Sep 15, 2005

Tarzhay Gets the Smackdown

Okay, it was more like a slap on the wrist.

I recently wrote about how Target busted out $1M and basically took over all of the ad space in the August 2005 issue of The New Yorker.

Well, now the American Society of Magazine Editors has scolded the magazine for violating one of its society's rules which states that the sole advertiser not in any way influence the editorial content of that issue.

Fair enough. I'm all about full disclosure and what not.

Some - including Columnist Larry Lazare at The Chicago Sun-Times - have criticized The New Yorker/Target Corporation "synergy issue" (you have me to thank for that term), calling it “the most jaw-dropping collapse of the so-called sacred wall between editorial and advertising in modern magazine history.”

Yeah. And how does he expect print media to make any money? Oh yeah, that's right. From selling advertising space.

C'mon, no sacred walls have been broken here. No editorial boundaries have been breached. If Lazare complains about this, I'm sure he's also gotta complain about people buying one- and two-page spreads in the New York Times. Or even in his own paper.

Others in the industry have either found this to be a wonderful display of ingenuity in advertising, or a non-issue.

Others have more or less shrugged, suggesting that the publishing industry faces bigger issues, like rising advertiser demands for a print version of product placement. ASME is still in the process of revising its guidelines to address such activities; its new guidelines are expected to be released at the American Magazine Conference next month.
In any case, I'm sure it was a pretty kickass issue, seeing as how a lot of the Target ad artwork turned out. Plus, I'm not complaining - you know how I love me some Target.


seamus said...

What editorial did Target impact? Has anybody identified any? Or are people mad about advertising impacting advertising?

Comandante AgĂ­ said...

Target is a "red" company who gives almost 100% of its campaign donations to Republicans. Sounds like a red state coup on the liberal New Yorker to me...

e. said...

Erm, okay, as the j-school dork I'm gonna' play devil's advocate (which I do normally, but hear me out).

Fact of the matter is, the separation of editorial content and ad content is, in journalistic terms, akin to the separation of church and state.

And, like the latter, lately stepped all over by bullshit like government funding for faith based groups, publishing's increasingly fixed focus on the bottom line has resulted in continued blurring of the editorial/ad line.

So, the beef here is the fact that the New Yorker not only bent over for Target's cool mil (oh, and believe me, I love Target as much as the next girl!), but did not bother to identify the reasons, or reasoning, behind the placement.

And granted, so much editorial content these days is nothing more than a thinly-veiled two-dimensional font-based blow job due, primarily, to the free shit mag staffers are sent ad nauseum in an effort to garner mention. But the fact that the New Yorker, which one would expect to be above that sort of thing, completely blew off any mention of the single-subject advertising orgy—not even labelling it as such—makes it shocking, and sad.

So, I know in the scheme of things this is merely another sign of the impending capitalistic apocalypse and that's why I am no longer slaving away in journalism, but it's a sign none-the-less, and I think ASME was right to slap the New Yorker on the wrist.

The media is supposed to be the watchdog of those in power, but if your watchdog is too busy snacking on the steak the powerbrokers brought to distract him to notice the house is being robbed blind, what good is the dog? Lame analogy, but it's a slippery slope, my friends...

revi said...

Who are we kidding? All media is influenced by the people who pay the bills, the advertisers.

If the client doesn't like some content, it gets pulled.
If the client wants their product reviewed, they give one to the content provider who "reviews" it. Often in the most glowing terms.

As my dad says, "TV shows are just the bait to get you to sit through the commercials." Same for the articles and cartoons.

Given that, maybe we should start sending our complaints to the advertisers. You know, "Hey Target, we'd like to see something more edgier in The New Yorker. How about some nearly-nude-brad! I promise I'll buy my next breadmaker at your store!" And such.

(I only say the brad thing because I stumbled across some nekkid brad last night. It's on my mind, you could say.)

But seriously, I bet if we formed some kind of group (Citizens for Declension Revitalization) we could exert our "Special Interest" will on them all. Hee.

(What movie had the "special purpose" in it? Ugh. That will bug me all day.)

Ok, off to study. :)

Mags said...

Wow, you guys are like, real smart like.

Steve M. said...

Yeah, where was Lazare back in Clinton's first term, when the big insurance and drug companies were buying huge ads, and sometimes multi-page ad supplements, in The New York Times and the Times was -- coincidentally! -- running an endless series of stories about how managed care (rather than the Clinton health plan) was going to solve all of our health care woes?

Pepper said...

I thought all of 'Vanity Fair' was ads, plus one James Wolcott piece, one Dominick Dunne piece, and one Christopher Hitchens piece.

Heck, mixing things up in the 'New Yorker' makes it easier for us to find what's in the Table of Contents.