By Chuck Woodbury
I wrote in RV Travel newsletter issue 753 about how the voluntary subscriptions to the newsletter help my staff and me place the interests of our readers ahead of advertisers. Here’s an example of why this is important.
An acquaintance of mine was recently asked to write a coach review for a large national RV magazine. He drove to a dealer, picked up the RV, then spent a few hours driving it around. He didn’t stay in it overnight, nor did he even hook it up.
But he did experience enough to tell me, “I really didn’t like it.” He said he was familiar with the same model coach from eight years earlier. “It was built far better,” he said.
The magazine where his review will appear is funded primarily by advertisers, including the manufacturer of the RV he tested. My friend knows that if he is honest with his review, writing negatively about the coach, the magazine will not be happy because it will risk offending an advertiser. It’s entirely possible that an advertiser could pull its advertising over a bad review: it happens in all media, not just those in the RV industry. In a major RV magazine, this could easily amount to $150,000 a year (or much more) in lost income.
And so my friend said he will do his best with this review, noting it will be a challenge to come up with something positive, considering all the things he disliked. What readers of the published article will read is a wishy-washy account of the RV with most of what my friend did not like left out.
This is why Consumer Reports does not accept advertising, and why it’s a trusted source of product information. It tells it like it is without fear of offending commercial supporters. Its appreciative readers respond by subscribing to ensure the magazine’s continuing impartial coverage.
That is the same reason my staff and I hope to get to a point where our subscribers provide enough support that we can write without any worry of losing an advertiser and its money.