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City mags alive and well

In "Giving the Web a local flavor" in the June 2 Advertising Age Special Report on Interactive Media & Marketing, you state, "That city magazine is old news." You sing the praises of the yet commercially unproven World Wide Web at the expense of established and proven city magazines.

Ad linage statistics printed in your own publication show that the city magazine category is one of the healthiest categories in the magazine industry.

San Diego Magazine is now in its third year of double-digit ad page and ad revenue growth. And we are now in the midst of a subscription acquisition campaign that has had a 3% gross response in the first week of returns. People still want city magazines.

A bit of research would show that the advancement of the Web is not at the expense of city magazines. Rather, in some cases, the Internet world and local magazines are working synergistically. In your 12 pages of "Interactive" editorial, there was not one mention of what city magazines are doing on the Web. All other media were covered.

San Diego Magazine has developed an extensive and award-winning Web site, We have become the premier local Web site to the extent that we provide content to Digital City San Diego and Roadrunner, the Time Warner Cable Web site. And most importantly, we are selling advertising on the Web.

The demise of city magazines has been grossly overstated. Not only are some of us thriving but, as entrepreneurial publishers, we have extended our very valuable brands in our markets, including electronic media.

Maybe someday someone at the ad trades will notice.

James L. Fitzpatrick


San Diego Magazine

Web site review is unfair

Your reference to Star Tribune Online in the article on Twin Cities Web sites ("TV, radio station sites head the pack around Minneapolis," AA, June 2) was grossly unfair. You visit once, describe it as "slow to download" and dismiss it as a site you're not likely to visit again.

That's a little like going to the corner store and complaining that The Wall Street Journal is inadequate because the clerk couldn't ring it up quickly enough. The factors that might cause any Web site to load poorly are myriad: slow modem, bad connection, bad routing, a glut of traffic.

You should have stuck around longer or tried again later. You might have discovered why Star Tribune Online was honored as one of the top five newspaper Web sites on the planet at last fall's E&P/Interactive contest. From our searchable guides to our award-winning AIDS project, we are connecting with our readers in creative and innovative ways.

Ben Welter

Star Tribune Online producer

Minneapolis-St. Paul

Keep data private

In "Privacy and ad revenue issues impede growth" (AA, June 16), you display simultaneous arrogance and naivete that I have not seen in a long time. Marketers are not the reason privacy needs protection, and it is arrogant to believe we are-no matter how much we all wish we'd get fewer pieces of junk mail.

It is naive not to understand that the real threats to privacy are those companies that, in the guise of marketing or just based on the bottom line, use private data to make decisions that can detrimentally affect our everyday lives.

Consider an insurance company. For business reasons, they want the least risk. They want to know all the data they can about their clients. Such a company may decide to decline coverage to someone with a high risk of heart disease, for example. When data is no longer private, they can use information gathered from remarkable places in lieu of a physical exam.

How long before the insurance company begins declining people with an above-average purchasing level of red meat, or high-fat foods? Do you trust your supermarket not to sell that information? I don't.

The reality is that simple or even targeted marketing is not the most pressing issue. The issue is making sure well-intentioned marketing strategies and databases do not open the door to more insidious and distasteful strategies. We all have to start caring about control over our ability ever to control that information.

Rebecca Spainhower

Arlington, Mass.

What about Snoopy?

A caller to a New Jersey talk show had a great perspective and a sharp tongue-in-cheek concerning the Joe Camel witch hunt. It went something like this:

He came home to discover that his kids had been influenced by the Met Life cartoon character Snoopy and had-oh, how horrible!-blown their allowances on term rather than whole life!

Terry Price

ProMoto Management/MotoPhoto

Pleasantville, N.J

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