2009.02.15 23:34:40
Susan Jackman

Has commercialism (advertiser's control) corrupted or enhanced quality and integrity?

Advertisers do try to influence the content of publications. A beer producer may pressure a magazine in which it buys ad space not to print articles on the dangers of drinking, or an airline may demand that their advertisements be withdrawn from publications that report airplane crashes.  It is true that the Chrysler Corporation has asked magazines to inform it about material that involves sexual, political, or social issues that might be considered provocative or offensive; and Proctor and Gamble does not want its advertisements placed near articles or advertisements about gun control, abortion, the occult, cults, or the disparagement of religion.  But does this affect the quality and integrity of the publication?  Which will remain in the publication, the advertisement or the object of the advertisers concern.

Stephen Lacy is a media economist and director of the Michigan State University School of Journalism.  She did several studies to determine whether or not there was a between high profit margins and credibility.

“If you give in [to editorial pressure by advertisers], someone (your competitor or journalists) will tell your readers. In the long run, a magazine is nothing without credibility. If you want to become a catalog for advertisers, that’s your decision, but be honest with the readers,” Lacy stated in an interview.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism also surveyed current and former news executives and discovered a relationship between quality journalism and business success. They agreed that quality led to higher revenue.

Philip Meyer, who holds the Knight Chair in Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, suggests that credibility can be defined as the readers perception of whether the news is accurate, fair, unbiased, can be trusted, and tells the whole story. He also stated that credibility enticed more advertising.

An advertiser and prospect survey of each publication was conducted in 2002. This blind survey hoped to determine the most important characteristics of the publication to the advertiser and how each magazine performed on those characteristics. In the ophthalmic field (72%) of those surveyed cited a publication’s level of respect among its readers as a very important factor for advertising.

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