Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Is It Just Me Or Is This Bullshit?

My colleague Elizabeth Parsons, editor of the Blue Ridge Business Journal, whom I like and respect, has just written an introduction for the little paper's annual Book of Lists that I find interesting. She calls the current edition "the best" in the 21-year-history of the BOL. It's certainly the smallest, but the best? As the former editor of the magazine, the guy who did the first half dozen of these publications virtually by myself and directed the rest, I take umbridge at her assertion.

The newest edition has color bars in the lists. I guess that's better. My colleague Dick Robers called several of the businesses in the BOL just out of curiosity and found that the information was incorrect in an unusually high percentage (that could just have been bad luck, I'll admit). Sharon Gnau, who compiled the BOL for us for about eight years, went five of those years without making a mistake. She almost never made an error in the others she worked, either. Emily Field's record last year was very close to that. The BOL used an intern to compile the info this year, according to Elizabeth.

A comparison to last year's BOL looks like this:

This year: 40 pages; 15 lists; probably $30,000 in revenue.
Last year: 84 pages; 33 lists; $80,000 in revenue.

Judge for yourself. Is Elizabeth involved in an exercise of hyperbole? Of rhetoric? Of bullshit? Or, indeed, is much, much smaller--but with plenty of color--better?

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