ARTVOICE DEATH TOLL AT 7
We here at THE BEAST feel we should be honest. When we started scouting the competition here in Buffalo, we couldn't be totally dismissive of ArtVoice. Sure, it's duller than a Jet Blue in-flight magazine. Sure, it shamelessly blows all of its advertisers, and publishes poetry so awful you could use it to torture terrorist suspects at camp X-Ray. And sure, its publisher looks like a midget vampire, and sings agonizing covers of "No Woman, No Cry" in local bars.
But ArtVoice has one thing going for it: a nifty-looking full-color cover. No doubt about it: from a commercial standpoint, the full-color ArtVoice cover is definitely an advantage over the no less earnest, but certainly more modest 2-color Beast design. Advertisers like full-color papers, and we even hear that girls are impressed by the way they look.
But is full color really an advantage, from a moral standpoint? We called the Canadian press that prints ArtVoice, and asked for price estimates that would give us some idea of just how much extra money we'd have to spend in order to have a cover that looks like ArtVoice's. The sum we came up with, per issue, was $180.
It took just a few phone calls to find out that what ArtVoice wasn't only buying a competitive advantage with that extra money. It was also, it turns out, buying the premature deaths of 15 children a month.
Here's a partial transcript of our phone call to the Save The Children headquarters in Westport, Connecticut (203-221-4000), about the ArtVoice cover problem:
BEAST: So in order to sponsor a child, we'd have to spend how much?
Save the Children: It's $24 a month.
BEAST: Does that go directly to one child?
STC: No, it's pooled. It goes to the community the child lives in. But you get reports about the progress of the programs in the community, as well as information about the individual child. And you get a report once a year about the child's progress.
BEAST: Okay, so does that mean that the $24 figure corresponds to some real calculation as to how much it costs to actually feed a starving child? Or is it just a random figure?
STC: It... I'd have to say it's an actual figure. You know, we get audited. Yes, it's an actual figure.
BEAST: Okay, so the thing is, I work for a newspaper. We want to sponsor a child.
BEAST: Yeah, actually, we're going to try to pressure other newspapers into cutting back on non-essential expenditures, so that there would be more money to send to worthy charities like yours.
STC: That's a wonderful idea!
BEAST: Yeah. So for instance, you take a newspaper that has a full-color cover, it could easily go two-color, you know, and save some money. I mean, we're saving like 180 bucks every two weeks.
BEAST: The way we see it, that... Save the Children: That's seven children a month!
BEAST: No, it's 15 children a month. The $180 figure is every two weeks.
BEAST: But our competitors, you see, they're spending that money. I mean, who cares if a newspaper has two colors or four? In the grand scheme of things.
STC: Exactly. Exactly.
BEAST: That's like 15 children that will go starving. For a color cover.
STC: Uh... I guess.
BEAST: So how do we sponsor a child?
STC: Just go online at savethechildren.com and fill out the form... Or you can send us a check. We'll send you a photo right away.
BEAST: We'll be sure to do that.
STC: Well, thank you. I think you've got a great idea there.
BEAST: Thanks. What's your name again?
STC: My name is Greer.
BEAST: Like Greer Garson?
STC: Uh huh!
BEAST: Thanks, Greer. Goodbye.
We sponsored a child for this issue and will be receiving information in the mail about him before next issue. When we get updates on his progress, we'll share them with U, the BEAST reader. As time passes, we will ask you to bear in mind that he is only alive, and well-fed, because we decided to forego a wasteful full-color cover.
ArtVoice, meanwhile, can't make that claim. Until they follow our lead, we'll be publishing a weekly death toll. After two weeks, the body count is seven. Seven tiny little babies, starving to death. Imagine that the next time you catch yourself thinking, "Gosh, what a great 'Reinventing the Bus Stop' cover!"
READ THE BEAST.