Martha Stewart Halloween Issue Disappoints Fans in the Worst Way

martha stewart halloween issueAny Martha Stewart fan looks forward to October with all the excitement and anticipation of a kid on Christmas morning. That's because the special annual Halloween issue of Martha Stewart's magazine is the best and most popular of all the issues. Each and every year she dresses up in an awesomely fantastic, over-the-top Halloween costume for the cover, and this year her costume -- which channels Lady Gaga -- is no exception.

Clearly, Martha's October 2011 cover will be a huge success. However, something inside the magazine is really pissing off some fans ...

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As one die-hard Martha fan discovered when she was flipping through the pages, 30 percent of the content of this year's Halloween magazine is old. Specifically, the reader recognized a photo of a chocolate cake titled the "Macabre Manse" from an October 2008 issue, and when she inquired about it to Martha Stewart's people, they confirmed her suspicions. It -- along with much of the other Halloween content -- had been re-purposed and republished from previous magazine issues.

Of course, re-purposing content is a practice that many major publications engage in (including The New York Times), particularly for special issues or sections. But, typically, the publication alerts the reader in a printed statement that some of the material is republished; in this case, there was no such statement. Victor S. Navasky, a journalism professor at Columbia University, explains the obvious problem with this:

At some point, it becomes unfair to the reader because the consumer is buying for a second time what he thought was original material ... The problem isn’t the repurposing, the problem is the lack of notice for the reader.

Martha Stewart herself and the magazine have since apologized for the oversight. If ever there were a reminder that someone as seemingly perfect as Martha Stewart can come up short sometimes, this is it. Publications should be transparent, yes. And yet, I'm willing to forgive Martha for recycling some of her ideas just because they're so wonderful and creative, you can enjoy them over and over again.

 

Image via Martha Stewart

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