History of Marketing and Newsletters Part 2 Consumer Safety and Business

About the history of marketing and newsletters, some popular kinds of newsletters including consumer health and safety and financial newsletters.

A Newsletter on Newsletters

An axiom of newsletter survival is sharp focus on a subject that will appeal to the broadest possible audience. Small wonder so many newsletters draw a bead on consumer health and safety.

Consumer Newsweek was founded in 1971 to keep readers posted on actions by government regulatory agencies. It names hazardous products banned from the market or under investigation, and passes along health tips and warnings.

A recent shocker was an item on a study by the General Accounting Office and the Food and Drug Administration revealing that 31% of chicken in stores is contaminated with salmonella. Sometimes the cause of food poisoning, salmonella was also found in smaller amounts in pork and ham. "Yet," said GAO, "Federal efforts to control the germ have been piecemeal." The study found that closer inspection was made on interstate shipments of pet turtles than on meat and poultry. Although beef was found relatively free of salmonella in the GAO checks, Consumer Newsweek said other tests over a wide area of the country have found beef containing large amounts of bacteria. The weekly newsletter warns consumers to cook meat and poultry as much as taste will allow and to wash hands and utensils that come in contact with the raw products.

"The Government can't assure that pesticides are safe and effective," warns another item. In a watchdog survey of the Environmental Protection Agency, GAO described tests of pesticides by EPA as inadequate. The study concludes, ". . . the number of unsafe and ineffective pesticides used by consumers could be significant." (Subscription is $15 a year. Write to 813 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20004.)

In the race for subscribers, no entries run harder--or for bigger purses--than newsletters in the financial field. Each publisher implies that his newsletter will show investors how to make money. Investment letters are usually filled with stock market tips, but a maverick in the field since 1963 is The Contrary Investor.

Although publisher James Fraser does devote a portion of his biweekly newsletter to evaluation of a stock, most of it is given over to his "contrary" philosophy concerning the economic scene. In one issue, The Contrary Investor accused large institutions of laziness in selecting their stocks. "After a while, anything that is too easy doesn't work, which is, by the way, a simply stated philosophy of Contrary Opinion Theory."

The blood pressure of many investment newsletter publishers probably exploded when James Fraser told his readers, "Letting the computer on top of your head replace automatic buy lists is healthy." Nor would stockbrokers be apt to embrace a recent pronouncement in which Fraser commented: "Wall Street is not perfect, mind you. Most investors, especially individuals . . . believe that the stock exchange community is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves. . . ." (Newsletter available at $35 per year from Box 494, Burlington, Vt. 05401.)

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