For more than eight years, Pathfinder.com has been the oxymoron of online publishing. Pathfinder and its parent company, AOL Time Warner (soon to be renamed Time Warner) are the poster children for Mass Media cluelessness about New Media.
So, no one should be surprised about the bad e-mail experiences that Seattle Times Columnist Charles Burmont had when:
- “I recently sent a letter to People magazine, expressing my displeasure about its omission of Jerry Lewis from an article about ‘Stars that Really Help Kids’.
“I received a 500-word automated reply within five minutes, covering a variety of topics from back-issue orders, photo requests to editorial submissions.
“But unlike many AOL Time Warner publications, this particular missive buried the lead at the end: ‘We may, from time to time, contact you with offers of Time Inc. products and services which we think may be of interest to you. If you would prefer us not to contact you in this manner, please let us know by sending us an e-mail at email@example.com.’
“So now we know how spam gets started. And we also have a clear demonstration between ‘opt in’ and ‘opt out.’
“Once you get on an AOL Time Warner list, it’s hard to believe that you won’t end up on another one.
“And it’s equally likely that — no matter what privacy protection they claim at this point — it won’t be too long before your address is passed on to quite a few places.
“Since I didn’t ‘opt out’ here, I can expect an increasing quantity of spam from all branches of this media conglomerate. (However, if you do choose to opt out at this point, it’s probable that they will scratch you off the list.)
“So there is no way to butter this up: AOL Time Warner is a spammer. “
For another example of a Mass Media company that doesn’t understand how e-mail should be used, check out this brief story about Tribune Interactive.