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Discussion Starter #1
To Kalmbach Publishing/Model RR/Garden Railways editors:


Are the following statements accurate?

1 - You make the final choice of product reviewers not manufacturers; and

2 - Your choice of reviewers is based on their ethics, expertise, and writing skills; and

3 - Your choice of reviewers is NOT based on any manufacturer's influence outside of reviewer ethics, expertise, and writing skills.


Considering the need for trust in product reviews, your response is worthwhile.

Wendell Hanks
 

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Discussion Starter #2
RE: Editors of Model RR & Garden Railways - A request for accuracy

Whether Marc or others in editor positions respond, clearly the questions have been asked.
Dave Goodson's posting was read by at least one editor.
I expect the above to also be read.
We await their responses.
 

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RE: Editors of Model RR & Garden Railways - A request for accuracy

I believe the policy since inception at Kalmbach has been those exact principles.
A call to Kalmbach indicated that no reviewer in their recollection has ever been "fired" because a manufacturer complained about a review.
Had that been the case, one would surmise, whoever wrote the review of a Bachmann H0 steam engine complaining about "casting sprues" that ended up being "lagging clamps" would have been fired.
But that did not occur.
Looking at the data posted on various forums, it appears some one (or many ones) are backpedaling furiously.
Interesting commentary on the 120blog.
I, for one, cannot wait to see what transpires there.
 

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RE: Editors of Model RR & Garden Railways - A request for accuracy

Wendell,

Your questions are a bit naive. Of course we'd all like to believe that the world is perfect, that reviewers never make mistakes, and that the income-producing part of the media (advertising) has no influence on the editorial standards.

But history is littered with examples that prove it isn't true. Just read the concerns about Murdoch taking over the WSJ and "tarnishing their reputation".

Magazine publishing is a constant battle between the editorial standards and the advertisers. When I was in marketing, it was considered a major event if we got an article published that touted our products and our advantages. The same is true of reviewers: you have to wine-and-dine them (in theory, at least,) so they never say a bad word about your product. Obviously, some companies are better than others at this.

Just inspect the relationship between our friend at LSOL and his 'partner' at Aristocraft. You think his website is impartial?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
RE: Editors of Model RR & Garden Railways - A request for accuracy

Pete-
Naive? A "bit" naive? You are correct If I, or anyone else, thinks Kalmbach will say that they DO payoff advertisers with favorable reviews -- or remove reviewers who don't show favor. Of course they won't say no. The question is are they willing, in context of the declaration to Dave Goodson, to affirm a "yes" to those questions? In the context of Dave Goodson's K-27 review, their stated committment is the only basis in which to declare their committment has been broken. If Kalmbach, Marc, or any editor of Model Railroader wants to that affirm readers should hold them to the standards inherent in those questions, they will (may) answer.

Meanwhile....

Will they will be silent under the addage: "Of course everyone knows that those are the standards we adhere to, therefore it is obvious what has happened to Dave Goodson is clearly a case of Dave NOT being objective, of being biased, and of being ill-founded in his appraisal of the K-27."

I trust we all wonder what if Kalmbach (Garden RR and Model RR) will join Bachmann in the judgment against Dave and "banish" him from further reviews. Now, what about those questions?

Wendell
 

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RE: Editors of Model RR & Garden Railways - A request for accuracy

This is NOT written from my position as a GR contributor/Kalmbach contractor, etc., and should not in any way be construed as a response from Kalmbach or anyone on its editorial staff, nor should it be construed as their corporate policy. It IS written based on my 15 years experience covering large and small corporations for various news organizations.

1) Corporations don't care about public forums, nor the opinions expressed on them. In many cases, they don't even read them.

2) Corporations don't respond to comments made on such public forums. As others have stated in another thread here, it would be a futile exercise for them.

3) Corporations are loathe to respond to direct questions about matters they consider "internal." They will not invite you over for coffee to sit down and listen to the VP of operations tell you every last detail about what's going on. That's why the news media relies on "sources inside XYZ Inc." because the front office doesn't say squat.

4) Most often, if you aren't just completely ignored out of hand, the best you get is a written statement that's typically quite vague and non-committal about the issue at hand.

Will they will be silent under the addage: "Of course everyone knows that those are the standards we adhere to, therefore it is obvious what has happened to Dave Goodson is clearly a case of Dave NOT being objective, of being biased, and of being ill-founded in his appraisal of the K-27."

Let's be careful here with the quotation marks. That implies that what's between them is an official statement made by someone within the corporation. Again, I'm not saying that as someone who works for Kalmbach, but as a journalist whose butt would be called into my news director's office if I did something like that.

The bottom line is that if Kalmbach is like most corporations I've dealt with in my professional career, they're not going to waste their time here answering these questions. Both companies have published phone numbers and e-mail addresses, should one want to ask these questions directly. In fact, both companies have public forums like this one with company reps who do read them and occasionally respond when they feel it necessary or advantageous. I can't say as to whether they'd respond on their individual forums or not, but they're far more likely to do that there than here.

Later,

K
 

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RE: Editors of Model RR & Garden Railways - A request for accuracy

Kevin.

I understand what you are saying.

However I must disagree with:

"2) Corporations don't respond to comments made on such public forums. As others have stated in another thread here, it would be a futile exercise for them."


I have personal experience of just such occurrences.
Believe me, if a Corporation does not like something being said about them in a forum, even if it is true, they will exert pressure on the publisher of those comments to have them deleted. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
 

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RE: Editors of Model RR & Garden Railways - A request for accuracy

I get your point, but trying to have comments made by a 3rd party removed from a web site is different from responding. I've seen that quite often myself. It's the difference between working to make a problem simply disappear, as opposed to acknowledging there's an issue and addressing it.

Later,

K
 

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Posted By East Broad Top on 04/06/2008 5:49 PM
I get your point, but trying to have comments made by a 3rd party removed from a web site is different from responding. I've seen that quite often myself. It's the difference between working to make a problem simply disappear, as opposed to acknowledging there's an issue and addressing it.
Later,
K




Sorry Kevin I still disagree.
"Respond" they most certainly do.
What these corporations usually do if they see something they don't like, is to have a "Shill", paid or otherwise, answer them. Either with obfuscation and denial that a problem even exists, or, in some instances, straight out untruths. Anything to try and avoid reality lest they look bad.
Then, if that doesn't work, they try and shoot the messenger.
 

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RE: Editors of Model RR & Garden Railways - A request for accuracy

In the context of my statements, I view the concept of response as a constructive, honest dialogue that addresses the issue at hand. Certainly the examples Tony sites are "responses." There are differences, though. Shills are rarely--if ever--openly connected to the corporation they're "working" for. Even if the connection is widely assumed, they tend to operate on forums under a cloak of anonymity. Their job is exactly as Tony states, to confuse the issue and/or change the subject (or shamelessly promote a product). But because they operate "in secrecy," they do not offer official corporate policy. Believe me, corporate PR guys are quite adept at confusing the issue and changing the subject without needing to hide behind screen names. They're paid big bucks to do so, and are quite proud of their work.

The corporate reaction--if there is one to a 3rd party public forum--does tend to more often be along the lines of what Tony described earlier, attempts to get the thread shut down or other legal maneuvering. Official constructive responses in such fora are simply a rarity. In most cases, the natives on the forum have already lit their torches, and aren't going to believe the "company line" anyway. One needs only attend a handful of city council meetings to realize truth is irrelevant in the face of perception.

Later,

K
 

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RE: Editors of Model RR & Garden Railways - A request for accuracy

Acording to the latest Ford truck advertisements, "Perception is reality."
 

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Kevin.

I certainly don't disagree with that analysis.

There surely are some past masters of "spin" in our hobby.
 

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RE: Editors of Model RR & Garden Railways - A request for accuracy

I remember a long time ago when Model Railroader ran an article about using stove polish as an alternate way of painting a loco.

A paint manufacturer, an MR advertiser whose name starts with an F, wrote that it would be a cold day in (we'll dispense with the geographical or metaphysical location) before they advertise in MR again.

MR did respond; very adroitly as I remember it.

Art
 

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RE: Editors of Model RR & Garden Railways - A request for accuracy

Thats odd, i went to this LSOL place and it said I had to give them 20 quid to look at their site. How obsure... Does anyone pay a 3rd party to pass on their expertise ?
 
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RE: Editors of Model RR & Garden Railways - A request for accuracy

well, i am not sure, if my english is not good enough, or if this thread is changing direction allready....
 

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We've moved a little off point here, arguing about whether or not companies read or care about comments posted on web sites and all. The original post had to do with Garden Railway's or Kalmbach's "accuracy." I think the word is "integrity." In other words, do they have high journalistic standards and are they willing to stick to them? I can't speak for GR, but I do know a few things about car magazines, specifically, Road & Track, where I toiled for 30 years. Then and now,the magazine writes what is true and doesn't curry favor with advertisers by giving a car a favorable review. Mostly the car companies live with unflattering comments (I think the feeling is, "I don't care what you say, as long as you spell our name right"). But on occasion they can get petty. Some time ago when our company had a pickup truck and 4wd magazine, a negative review of a pick-em-up caused a very large car maker to pull their ads for several months. That certainly hurt our bottom line. But no writer or editor got dressed down by the publisher. No one got fired either. That's what I mean by integrtiy: sticking to your principles. So the question for GR is, "Does TOC get to keep his job." Or does revenue rule the roost? As they say, "Film at 11."

OK, so it's videotape. Or a chip. It's an expression...
 

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From a "reader of many magazines" perspective, I find that reviewers tend to soften anything negative about a product.
That seems to apply across the board for all magazines and GR is no exception.
I always look at anything negative in a review as actually being one notch worse and anything really positive not qite as good as the reviewer makes it out to be.
Of course, different people have different perceptions about how serious an issue is, or is not, so that needs to taken into consideration.

In general I prefer to look at user reviews on the internet if they exist - preferably at least ten different ones to have a reasonable hope of getting a true picture.
 

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RE: Editors of Model RR & Garden Railways - A request for accuracy

Regarding the suspicion of overly positive reviews (in any magazine): an editor has a finite number of pages to use. If ten products come in for review and two are junk, and there is room for six reviews, the junk products are not going to get reviewed. (Unless, in rare circumstances, it would be irresponsible not to warn people away from them.) Not everything good gets reviewed, but very little that's awful gets reviewed. There's just not enough space.

If you only want to read griping about things people don't like, the internet seems to have a full range of choices.
 
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