By: Lisa Granatstein
Parade, USA Weekend Reportedly Submitted Stories For Credit
(Mediaweek) The American Society of Magazine Editors this week will
issue new guidelines that will discourage publications from receiving
advertising credits in exchange for editorial content. The move follows
recent reports that have expanded the controversy over the White House
Office of National Drug Control Policy’s anti-drug effort to include
In 1997, White House drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey was authorized to
spend $1 billion over five years on an anti-drug media blitz. Since
then, the ONDCP has offered to buy ad time on broadcast TV networks on
the basis that for each commercial purchased, the network would provide
a free public-service spot or receive credits for anti-drug messages
appearing in shows. In a small number of cases, the ONDCP said it
reviewed TV scripts prior to airing.
Reports surfaced last week that publishing-side executives at magazines
including The Sporting News and Seventeen had submitted anti-drug
articles to the ONDCP in exchange for ad credits after the stories had
been published. Like the arrangement with the TV networks, for each
ONDCP paid ad that runs in a magazine, the ONDCP also receives a free
ad. Publishers can receive credit against those ads by submitting drug-
prevention articles to the ONDCP.
ASME president Jacqueline Leo initially supported editors whose
magazines were involved. In early news reports last week, Leo was
quoted as saying that editors were unaware of their publishers’
actions, and she expressed concern over the perceived conflict. But
some ASME members believed Leo’s initial response was not strong
Following a regularly scheduled board meeting last Thursday, ASME
determined that even the appearance of a potential conflict of interest
warranted new guidelines. ‘ASME is now recommending that no
[advertising] waivers be accepted in exchange for past or future
editorial coverage,’ said Leo, who is also editor in chief of Meredith
Publishing Group’s interactive media.
Editor John Rawlings of The Sporting News said he did not have a
problem with swapping anti-drug editorial for ad credits. Instead of
having TSN publisher Fran Farrell run an anti-drug house ad, Rawlings
ran columns by contributor Richard Lapchick, believing they would be
more effective in the fight against drugs. ‘I did the right thing,’
Rawlings said. ‘My conscience is absolutely clear and I’ll put my
ethical standards up for review any time.’ Rawlings said he would wait
until the ASME guidelines come out before commenting on them.
The Sunday newspaper magazines Parade and USA Weekend were also
reported to have submitted stories to the ONDCP. ‘It’s a terrible
idea,’ said Chris Anderson, publisher and CEO of The Orange County
Register, which carries Parade. ‘I regret that anyone in journalism did
it.’ Anderson said he plans to ‘express my concern’ this week to Parade
Publications CEO Walter Anderson.
Lisa Granatstein is a senior editor for Mediaweek magazine.
(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher