Monday, September 05, 2005

That fabled wall between church and state

Apparently Don Obe, retired head of the magazine program at Ryerson, is writing a piece for Masthead's back page on the crumbling wall between editorial and advertising, exemplified by the Maclean's deal with Cadillac last spring to "brand" an excerpt from Peter C. Newman's book. (I'm looking forward to Don's usually trenchant prose.)

Now, we have a suggestion that -- at least in part -- Kim Pittaway's departure from Chatelaine had to do with mandated association of an advertiser's brand with a feature. So, is this all about Rogers? Or is this a general trend out there?

Are magazine journalists and editors being too exquisite about this "church and state" separation, something that isn't sustainable in the hyper-competitive world? Or is the preservation of editorial integrity and reader trust a lesson that has to be constantly re-taught (or re-learned)?

Discuss, please.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If readers can't trust their magazine to be clear and honest about what is and what isn't for sale, then we'll all lose out in the end.

4:46 pm  
Blogger Jon Spencer said...

I know some consumers personally. They can see right through the ad-edit cosiness. So it's not just us hyper-sensitives worrying.

9:35 pm  
Blogger Patrick Walsh said...

Sponsorship is indeed creeping beyond Rogers. Here at Transcontinental, it's certainly a hot topic and we're in the midst of reviewing what we can and can't stomach (and why). Also, I was talking to the executive director of the American Society of Mag Editors a few weeks back; that group is currently revamping its ad-edit guidelines, in part to address this very issue. It looks like there's going to be some give (read loosening of the rules). The new guidelines are supposed to be out this month, but as of today there's nothing new on ASME's Web site. To be sure, CSME will be watching ASME closely on this score, as will Magazines Canada, which uses CSME's current guidelines (which prohibit ad sponsorship of editorial) as a yardstick to help determine the eligibility of new members. Actually, D.B., I'm chair of the membership committee and tomorrow at our meeting we'll be discussing a proposed motion to the board to strike an ad hoc committee to examine the issue (with members drawn from the NMAF, CSME, Mags Canada and the industry at large). Interested in taking part, if the committee comes to be? I'm sounding people out, in theory, about joining. Interestingly, Kim Pittaway said she was interested -- before walking from Chatelaine. She does now concede that the sponsored editorial conundrum (see the Home Depot stroke in Chatelaine's July issue) was one of the mitigating factors leading to her departure. At any rate, I'd like to see some kind of industry consensus on this, at least among the big players, but that may be dreaming. We'll see.
Patrick Walsh

12:35 pm  

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