: views from the Hill

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Lewis Lazare on "the Target issue" of the New Yorker

Anyone see the August 22, 2005, issue of the New Yorker?

Lazare of the Chicago Sun Times sez,

New Yorker dodges a bullet

It surely will go down as a black mark in the annals of the American Society of Magazine Editors. On Tuesday, ASME's 14-member board of directors agreed not to issue any letter of reprimand or otherwise censure the New Yorker magazine for what, by the ASME board's own admission, was a breach of the organization's editorial guidelines for an issue of a magazine supported by a sole advertiser.

The subject of Tuesday's ASME board discussion, the New Yorker Aug. 22 issue, included a number of illustrations in the style of New Yorker cartoons and illustrations that were, in fact, copyless Target ads inserted throughout the magazine without any tag identifying them as advertisements. The ASME guidelines state a single advertiser issue should include a letter of explication from either the magazine's editor or publisher, but the New Yorker's Aug. 22 issue had none.


How anyone reading that issue could not have been fully aware that the whole issue was wrapped around and with Target is beyond me. A letter from the editor explaining that this was so would've been a waste of the ink.

(I even stashed the issue away because I thought all the Target tie-ins and unlabeled "ads" were an entertaining advertising exercise.)

My first thought (knowing what one of the puny New Yorker half-inchers cost) was, gee, that must've cost an arm and a leg.

My second thought was, why? Hereabouts, we're getting the ad campaign (sponsored by California Consumers United which is ticked at the $$$ that Target has given to organizations supporting Schwarzenneger's agenda) telling seniors and tweenies not to shop at Target.

Target defends their contributions, saying they work with both major parties.

The New Yorker issue appeared about the same time a batch of senior-oriented "Don't buy your drugs at Target" ads started up on Bay Area radio. Connection? Well, no. Probably not. Coinkydink? Probably.

While the ASME board might have discerned no improper advertiser influence, numerous others beyond the realm of ASME's self-serving board of directors could see problems. "What troubled me about the Aug. 22 issue was the lack of transparency about what was going on with the Target ads," said Bob Giles, curator of Harvard University's prestigious Nieman Foundation for Journalism.

'Lack of transparency'? Man, anyone who couldn't see that the entire issue was sponsored by Target would have to be =very =unaware. Should the New Yorker have made mention of something so obvious?


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