Saturday, June 26, 2010

Good-looking help wanted.

I'm upset with American Apparel.

So upset, that I may not use the $17 I have left on a gift card my mom gave me for Christmas two years ago.

That'd probably only buy me a sock anyways.

Here's my beef.

Hiring people based on looks isn't anything new or surprising, but when I saw an American Apparel employee taking photos of a girl who had just dropped off a resume, I was shocked.

The employee took close-up shots and she took full body shots, while I stood by trying to understand why dropping off a resume had turned into a model casting.

So I wasn't surprised when I read this article on Gawker.com, which talks about the company's "must look pale, be thin and have really really long hair" policy (I am only one of those things... pale).

American Apparel's high standards for a person's looks don't end once an employee is hired, though. The company's dress-code policy is just as ridiculous. Here are just a few of my favourite employee requirements taken from the company's dress-code manual:

No straightened hair allowed, it must look natural.
Hair colour must be complimentary to skin tone and regularly maintained (no regrowth).
No over-plucking of eyebrows.
No boots/Uggs/ballet flats/converse/vans/gladiators or flip flops.
Must shower daily.
Must have outstanding dental hygiene.
Consider wearing American Apparel scrunchies and bows.

Consider scrunchies... really?

Dress-code policies are in effect at just about every clothing store because employees must represent the image of the company, but American Apparel's 20-pages of "New Standards" seems silly and excessive to me.

NY Mag wrote an article comparing American Apparel's dress-code policies with other popular clothing companies. The authors, Ashlea Halpern and Amy Odell, don't think American Apparel's policies are a big deal:

"So American Apparel wants an au-naturel-looking staff, and it wants its managers to take pictures of potential AA reps. That's their prerogative, it's well-documented, and they're pretty forthright about it...End of story. Or non-story, as it were."

Are Halpern and Odell right? Am I overreacting to something that shouldn't even matter?

What do you guys think?

(Image from www.mediabistro.com)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wikipedia:

an urban legend's best friend.


An urban legend is a questionable, secondhand story told as fact but it can't be proven.

In class this week we're discussing how editors can stop urban legends from being published as legitimate stories. Also this week, as if he somehow knew we were discussing the topic, Bartley Kives wrote an article about Sam Katz's communications director, Brad Salyn and his rumoured romance with Nicole Richie back in 2002.

The story stuck and was published on various websites and even in a book. What makes this rumour so ridiculous is that Salyn has never even met the actress (Is she even an actress? Why is she famous? Oh well, that's a whole other debate).

So how did a guy from Winnipeg come to "date" Nicole Richie? Someone added his name to her Wikipedia page, that's how!

But it may not be that easy for me to add my name to Brad Pitt's page any longer. After a few highly publicized scandals, in which incorrect information was published and not corrected, Wikipedia started "flagging revisions." This means that biographical information must now be signed off by an experienced editor before it is published on the site.

In a recent article published in the New York Times, one of Wikipedia's founders, Jimmy Wales, explains that it's now necessary to divide contributors into two classes- experienced editors and everyone else- because the site has a serious responsibility to give people the correct information.

(Image from theage.com)

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Front Page

Tomorrow Wendy Sawatzky, who is the online content manager of the Winnipeg Free Press, will talk to our class about her job as an online editor. In preparation we were asked to compare today's "dead-tree" edition of the Free Press with the stories and presentation of the online version.

What I realized, while comparing the paper and online editions, is that print has something that online media doesn't: the front page.

Well, obviously! But it also means that online media is lacking the impact the front page has on readers. The front page is often exciting, provocative or dramatic (often times it's too dramatic if you're looking at the Winnipeg Sun).

It's the layout, fonts, photographs and framing that create the impact, which doesn't fully translate online.

Here are some of today's front pages from various papers:

Philadelphia Daily News

The Globe and Mail
Calgary Sun

(Images from newsmuseum.org)