The wall separating the business and editorial sides of magazines came down last week long enough for both sides to issue a joint statement on editorial integrity.
The policy established by the American Society of Magazine Editors and Magazine Publishers of America bars magazines from giving advertisers a sneak peek at stories, photos or tables of contents for upcoming issues.
The statement is a response to growing concern about advertisers' influence over magazines' editorial offerings. In some cases, magazines have yanked or altered articles to keep from offending advertisers.
DEMANDS FROM CHRYSLER
Chrysler Corp., in particular, set off a furor by demanding in writing that magazines notify the auto marketer in advance about potentially controversial articles.
ASME and MPA do agree magazines can "inform advertisers about a publication's editorial environment or direction" including warnings of particular articles that might be considered controversial, but say they should do so "without engaging in practices that may at the very least create the appearance of censorship and ultimately could undermine editorial independence."
ASME issued a similar policy in June, but the new statement has the added clout of publisher support.
NO PRIOR REVIEW
Frank Lalli, managing editor of Money and ASME president, said the joint statement is "a clear sign that we are united in our thinking that no magazine should make available to advertisers any material for prior review. The major magazine publishers and editors are completely behind this."
"It's the editorial product that has credibility with readers," added MPA VP-Marketing Christine Miller. "The endgame for magazines is to keep that credibility with the readers, and advertisers benefit from that relationship. Anything that erodes that is not healthy for advertisers."
An executive at Chrysler said his company intends to keep its guidelines.
C0NTENT GUIDELINES NEEDED
"We're always going to have content guidelines," said Arthur C. "Bud" Liebler, VP-communications, Chrysler Corp. "We think we have a right to determine how and where we want to place our advertising. We don't want to be aligned with editorial that contains things like sexual situations, violence, racism, hate language or the glorification of drinking and drug usage. It wouldn't be appropriate for an automobile manufacturer.
"We are not trying to get in the way of the editorial integrity of any magazine, but we do have the right to determine the editorial environment where our ads appear."
The policy was applauded by Abe Peck, acting dean of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and chair of its magazine program.
"It's great to see editors and publishers agreeing that editors should edit magazines," Mr. Peck said. "Advertisers have legitimate needs, but in my opinion, prior review of editorial content isn't one of them."
Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.