Saturday, August 7, 2010

Horoscope Review: Jacqueline Bigar, Daily Newspaper Horoscope

Labeled the chintziest form of horoscope, daily-newspaper horoscopes nonetheless appear in nearly every paper, because readers demand them. These scopes are vastly important, reaching millions and generating public interest in astrology. They are the only contact with astrology some people ever have--including cynics who say, "Oh, this horoscope stuff; it's so general it could apply to anyone. Who could believe humanity is made up of 12 groups that all have certain traits." Yet these same people can't resist reading their daily forecasts, if only to find fault. Authors of these scopes have enormous power and the responsibility that comes with it.

Jacqueline Bigar's column, Bigar's Stars, begun in 1991, is syndicated to 200 U.S. newspapers and internationally, so her column is probably familiar to you if you ever pick up a paper. And you likely rate her column "Feh" without even reading it, because it's printed in the same paper that you use to line the birdcage. But Bigar wouldn't have her position if she didn't skillfully tread a very fine line, without fail. Imagine her job. She must write:
  • 12 forecasts and a birthday forecast for every day of the year, with no holidays.
  • These must be in simple language, and 50 words max, and
  • the tone must always be mild, preferably encouraging.
Each Sun-Sign forecast concludes with the word "Tonight" and a word or phrase characterizing the upcoming evening. Bigar furthermore assesses each Sun Sign forecast and assigns them one to five stars depending on the astrological currents of the day. Here is where the cynics might point out that one-star days (Bigar labels them "Yuck") almost never appear. But if Bigar gives, say, Gemini's day just one star, some Geminis will not leave the house. Honest to Pete. That's not good for the workplace and the economy! Their bosses will phone the newspaper to complain about the horoscope. The call will be transferred to the features editor. The features editor will complain to the syndicate, and the syndicate will complain to Bigar. And like everyone she wants to hold on to her job.

Now, given her workload and the severe restrictions on content, how sharp and accurate would you expect the forecasts to be? About two stars out of five? That's what I give them.

Bigar otherwise keeps a low profile. She is not a Web-celeb, and seems uninterested in keeping up with initial blog and Twitter postings. Her modest-looking website offers consultations ($179), indicating that she has time to do them and could probably use the money. Newspaper astrology serves readers better than a comic strip, yet newspaper editors consider horoscope columns "filler" or "junk entertainment" and pay accordingly.

No comments:

Post a Comment