Thursday, May 13, 2010

Beer & Brewer - Winter 2010

I've been subscribing to Beer & Brewer since it's inaugural issue. Generally, I think it's vital for the healthy evolution of the microbrewing and homebrewing scene in Australia. Hats off to the founders, and to current editor & "Beer Diva" Kirrily Waldhorn for establishing and maintaining it, respectively.

The contributing writers are certainly experienced in their subject matter; (as a disclaimer I have met and share Beeradvocate membership with a few of them), and the new release beer reviews are often quite esoteric, which appeals very much to the collector-cum-drinker mentality such as mine.

I do hold some reservations, however, about its style and content.  I recently mentioned on the Beeradvocate site that I think its layout is a bit all-over-the-place..... reminds me of my 6 year-old son's comic books, where pop culture, article, and advertisement all blend together.

More seriously, for mine, is the apparent "sponsored" content..... for example Paul Mercurio is given the run of Dan Murphy's to select and talk about particular beers.  Plus space to flog his new book. The latter is bald-faced, and perhaps (it might be hypothesised) a contra deal for the article. But I have doubt about the former; there is no declared indication that the article is an advertorial sponsored by Dan Murphy.  Sure, Dan Murphy is clearly stated as Paul's venue for selection, but I might suggest that, given the choice of any store, Paul would not have chosen Dan Murphy. Was this article sponsored by Dan Murphy ? Maybe not, but I'm suspicious.

Similarly, on the bit-too-cute homebrewing flipside, there is a blurring of the lines. At least the first couple of recipes (for Imperial Stout and Bock) clearly state that the recipes are Coopers and Lion Nathan promotions respectively. But page 10 runs a lovely piece on Barrett Burston Malting, with an ad on the opposite page. But the page 10 piece looks like an article, with headings, introductions, nice paragraphing etc., and the ad on Page 11 looks to be a separate entitiy.  OK, the Page 10 font matches that of the ad, but the whole piece is situated smack bang in the middle of Ian Watson's "Which Malt?" article.  So it's not completely clear if Page 10 is a part of the article, or a separate item viz advertisement.

OK, I'm prattling on a bit like Media Watch, but the lines between content and sponsored content/advertorial need to be more clearly identified.  There are pages where sponsored content is clearly stated, but pages where it's not.  So, the team is conscious of its obligation, but not consistent in its application.

1 comment:

  1. Michael, I agree wholeheartedly with your observation. I find it frustrating that such a necessary publication is sacrificing its integrity with poor typesetting, editing and journalistic standards. Not being a journalist I would be happy to be corrected by Kirrily if we have missed something in our judgement.

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