Commentary

Pink

The December/January issue of Pink, the relatively new (it launched last summer) women's business/lifestyle magazine, does not begin or end promisingly. The first section leads off with a statement bound to elicit major duhs: "Showing up at a business meeting or job interview with bad breath can give the wrong impression." The last page is a pointless, unfunny cartoon--something to do with an M.B.A. and makeovers.

The magazine does get better inside, but overall it's not quite as sharp as it should be, considering that it's the only magazine in its category since--when did Working Woman finally die, anyway? (I found Web references to it up till 2001).

A bimonthly published by an independent company in Atlanta, Pink's tagline is "A beautiful career. A beautiful life." That means a mix of business and service pieces--and the substantive stuff is the best part of the book. A perfectly fine cover profile of Disney and ABC head honcho Anne Sweeney balances professional and personal anecdotes nicely (love the one meant to show how high-level Sweeney really is: Maria Shriver comes up to her at The Special Olympics in Dublin and says, "Get your purse. We're going to meet Nelson Mandela.")

"Sweating the Small Stuff" actually breaks some fresh ground, discussing how to handle the "subtle discrimination" against women in business. The story "Out At Work" also pioneers with its look at how gay women have come out to their co-workers--and thrived. Then there are profiles of three Thai women who triumphed in three very different fields, quick bios of the "Next 20 Female CEOS," a story about a woman who started an $80 million scrap metal recycling company--notice a pattern here? Like eating too many bran muffins, reading a surfeit of success stories can bring on indigestion. I'd also like to see more sophisticated, well-thought out story ideas, and a more focused approach--what about a group of articles with a common theme?

The look of the book is stylish and well-done, fulfilling a higher standard more consistently than the words do, actually.

Now we come to the fluff, which definitely drags the book down. One problem: some of the service pieces are written by "experts" rather than real journalists, which makes for some clueless writing. For example, two women identified as "beauty marketers" are responsible for this mundane anecdote in a Q&A about a top cosmetic exec: "Big break: A headhunter called about a job at L'Oreal." Ah, there's nothing like a tough climb up the ladder! Then there are the pieces that read like the worst of generic business-lit, covering perennial topics like public speaking and telephone sales without uncovering a fresh angle.

I was also concerned about careless errors and omissions throughout the book--a left-out explanation here (what exactly are those "programs for professional women" in the Thai sidebar?); an unexplained dated reference there (mention of Mademoiselle might confuse women who have never heard of the mag that's been dead since late 2001); a left-out date (an anecdote about the historical importance of Carly Fiorina's tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard failed to mention exactly when she served.). OK, I'm an editor, and it's my job to notice things like this. Many, perhaps most readers, might not. Still, I'd say that sticking to the highest standards is what makes you credible. This is a magazine targeted to professional women that is not as professional as it could be. Considering its lofty aim of reclaiming the word "pink" the way African-Americans rescued the word "black" (as founding editor Cynthia Good notes on the pub's Web site), that's a shame.

Next story loading loading..