American Magazine Conference News

ASME REVISED MAGAZINE GUIDELINES RELEASED

Five Pages Trimmed to One; Tweaks Made but Church-State Editorial Wall Remains

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FAJARDO, Puerto Rico (AdAge.com) -- The much-anticipated, and some say long-overdue, revised guidelines from the American Society of Magazine Editors finally emerged today at the American Magazine Conference in Puerto Rico.



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audio bug Text of New ASME Guidelines

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The biggest difference between the old and the new, however, is their length; the new rules are summed up in a one-page pamphlet, where the old guidelines filled a five-page booklet. Mark Whitaker, editor of Newsweek and president of the magazine society always called ASME, has compared the revision to taking the Torah and trimming it down to the Ten Commandments.

Just tweaks
The substance of the changes, however, are largely just tweaks to the existing framework. Like the old guidelines, the new rules call for advertising that resembles editorial copy to be labeled in some way to prevent reader confusion. The new rules, however, add the option of labeling such pages “promotion” in addition to the old standby, “advertisement.”

ASME also gave a little to advertisers and publishers by grudgingly accepting sponsorship of non-recurring editorial features like special issues and inserts as long as they are clearly marked as advertising. The guidelines continue to forbid sponsorship language attached to regular features in magazines’ standard issues.

Magazines test guidelines
Now that the new guidelines are in place, ASME faces a fresh test of its influence. Sporting News, for example, regularly flouts the sponsorship prohibition by touting advertisers’ support of specific articles and items. Inside TV has ignored ASME’s prohibition of sponsored content since the magazine debuted this year. Whether there is any practical penalty, other than exclusion from consideration for the Magazine Publishers of America’s annual magazine awards, remains in doubt.

In a panel on paid brand integration, Mr. Whitaker said magazines should nurture and enforce transparency as a core value. "Consumers demand it and they punish you if you don't deliver," he said.

Mr. Whitaker was characteristically cool in his delivery on the new guidelines. "ASME is hoping to continue to be the conscience of the industry," he said, "without giving everyone a headache."

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