For positioning only?

One of the nuances of magazine publishing took effect as we were putting this issue together, and the more I thought about it, the higher up on my soapbox I climbed.

From the March, 2014 Issue of Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine

By Patrick McLaughlin

One of the nuances of magazine publishing took effect as we were putting this issue together, and the more I thought about it, the higher up on my soapbox I climbed. Now I’m going to share my thoughts, from that soapbox, with you.

A couple of the photos that appear in this issue (they will remain anonymous) had an interesting journey before ultimately showing up in our pages Wrong size, wrong orientation, blah-blah-blah; that’s just anecdotal publishing geek-speek. The part that got me thinking was that for several days, versions of these photos appeared on our preliminary pages with the letters F-P-O digitally branded on top of them. "FPO" means "for positioning only" and means the images were placeholders. The actual photos that would occupy those spaces were in transit and would be put in place when they arrived. The FPOs were not the real deals.

That’s what got me dusting off my soapbox. I began wondering how much of what I hear on the radio and TV, on one of my favorite topics, politics, are spoken FPO: for positioning only. When I’m tuning in to a political talk show on TV (which I admit I do subject myself to every now and then), the general format is that a segment consists of the host interviewing at least two people who take opposing viewpoints on the issue at hand. About 15 seconds into the interview, the image of the host disappears. The audience then gets the pleasure of hearing the interviewees shout over each other and seeing them roll their eyes, smirk, guffaw or otherwise show disapproval of the opposing side’s argument. Sometimes the two combatants are even sitting next to each other in a studio, but still they are shown in split screen so we get (have) to see the expressions (not to mention blemishes, thanks to HD) on their giant faces.

Although I have tuned in to CSPAN on only a few occasions, I have been told that sometimes members of the United States Congress exhibit similar physical characteristics while debating on their respective chamber floors.

But then I’ve also heard that some of these very same people, who appear downright apoplectic on air, join each other for cordial dinners and cocktails after the shouting is over. Which makes me think, all those policy-based debates might really just be FPO. As strange as this sounds even to myself as I write it, I hope that’s not the case. I hope they really disagree with each other. At least then I would believe these policy-influencers and policymakers have some conviction behind the words they speak, and votes they cast, respectively.

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN
Chief Editor
patrick@pennwell.com

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