You could write a book about what's wrong with the Woman's Day article on travel agents. In fact, you have. The 1,200-word piece generated more than 1,000 reader comments on the magazine's website, enough to fill a book.
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It also triggered a petition drive at Change.org, which as of this writing has attracted nearly 1,500 signatures from agents demanding a retraction.
The article was originally titled "10 Things Travel Agents Won't Tell You," but it was changed to "9 Things" after editors removed one of them. An editor's note on the site explained that "we've thoroughly reviewed this article" in light of agency reaction and found that one of the 10 didn't measure up.
As far as we're concerned, most of the 10 didn't measure up, and the magazine would have been well advised to remove the entire piece, which has been variously described by agents, in whole or in part, as bizarre, horrible, inaccurate, insulting, irresponsible, misleading, nonsense, offensive and "garbage."
While a handful of statements in the article could be described as "not wrong" or even "true," far too many fall on the slippery spectrum from "partly true but misleading" to "dead wrong" to "where in the world did they get that idea?"
If the editors "thoroughly" reviewed the article and changed only one thing, they're in denial. They should have taken the whole thing down.
For those with long memories, the Woman's Day piece is merely the latest lamentable entry in a long string of biased or ill-informed offerings from print and broadcast media that crop up from time to time, seeking to offer consumers "insider tips" about travel.
A common thread that runs through these pieces is that suppliers and/or agents are out to cheat you, but you can protect yourself with these tips and tricks from "the pros."
Of course, it's usually "10 things." And, of course, they're usually wrong.
Aside from trying to educate Woman's Day, which agents have been doing, there isn't much that can be done about this. As ARTA reminded its members, "Irresponsible journalism has been around since the invention of paper and ink."
Still, we hold out hope that the magazine will take the advice offered by ASTA and "get the facts" and consult with actual travel agents for upcoming articles about vacation planning. That could undo some of the damage.
Until then, travel agents can justifiably look upon Woman's Day as "one more reason why you can't believe everything you read."