Editor's Column | Light Housekeeping
It seems as though we just wrapped up AKC/Eukanuba — for which we have extensive coverage in this issue — and those last shows of 2009, yet already we’re well into the new year. We’re looking forward to Westminster and beyond that to other favorites in the coming months, and as usual we’re busy planning articles and interviews for the coming year that cover an amazing range of subjects about the sport of showing dogs. We’re looking forward to 2010 and to seeing what it brings for our sport. I thought I’d take this opportunity, before everything gets all heated up again, to do a little “light housekeeping.”
We’re grateful that we seldom get many complaints in the DR offices, but the past few weeks we’ve heard from several readers and advertisers who have voiced objections about one particular subject: rankings that appeared in ads. A couple of examples: when two dogs of the same breed, in the same issue, say they are “Number 1,” or when an ad says that one is Number 1 dog or Number 1 bitch, but part of the reference is designed to be as little noticed as possible.
For those who’ve been in the sport for decades the particulars of the different ranking systems may be old hat, but for anyone who hasn’t spent a certain amount of time getting a grasp on them they may not seem so simple. What I want to convey here is that in every ad we run in Dogs in Review where the advertiser claims that the dog is ranked Number-whatever this-or-that, we require that a statistics reference be included in the ad, and it must be from a published source that is freely available to any member of the general public. In other words if Joe Schmo sends in an ad that says his dog is the “Number 1 Wonkeydoodle all systems,” someone in the DR office must be able to go to the websites of the three major magazines that publish such statistics — all based on figures that they acquire from AKC on about the 15th of each month for events through the previous month — and be able to verify that according to their Wonkydoodle rankings based on dogs defeated at the breed level (typically referred to as the “breed system”) and dogs defeated in Group and Best in Show competition (typically called the “all-breed system”) their Wonkydoodle is in fact Number 1. Sure, the references are usually printed in small text at the bottom of the page, but unless there is an inadvertent oversight you’ll find it there on ads that list a dog’s ranking.
Some of our advertisers complained that 1) rankings references were too small to be noticed or in an obscure place on the page and 2) the details of the ranking were not printed in large enough text as to be easily noticed. We apologize if sometimes you look at an ad and can’t see the stats reference right away, or if just what is really meant by a ranking claim isn’t obvious at first sight, but again, as long as it is a true, verifiable ranking and the stats reference/source is printed in each ad, we don’t feel that we can make demands of advertisers beyond that.
One last comment: occasionally an advertiser will want us to print, for instance, that their dog is Number so-and-so through the end of a particular month when in fact the rankings for that month have not yet been published in print or online. They may know that their dog is ranked Number so-and-so because they purchased a report from AKC that tells them it is, but as you can see, a purchased report is not a source that is freely available to any member of the general public. We are happy to use a purchased AKC report as a reference for a ranking, but if we do so, a copy of that report must be sent to us for our files so that later, should someone say that they aren’t able to verify that ranking from an available printed source, we have verification that shows that the ranking was accurate through the date listed in the ad.
All this business of listing rankings in ads and being able to verify them is rather tedious, I admit. But now that housekeeping is done we can move on to more fun things!
Christi McDonald, Editor
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