For more than 25 years, I worked as an editor at a monthly magazine. My entire salary was paid, ultimately, by advertisers. It would be churlish of me to bite the hand that fed me. And yet, the destructive effects of advertising are hard to ignore.
The difficulty is, when advertisers are spending thousands of dollars every month (or, if the ads are in a newspaper, every day), they start trying to throw their weight around. The idealistic view of advertising is that the advertiser buys page space in which to display their ad. The reality is that sooner or later most advertisers will start trying to influence the editorial content of the publication.
They may object loudly to a feature that has already been published, and pull their ads (temporarily or forever). More subtly, they may suggest features that they would like to see published, features in which their products are favorably highlighted. It’s also very standard in the music industry for editors to be provided with free software and even hardware, a topic that would take us far enough astray that I may explore it in a separate blog entry. (Full disclosure: I have certainly benefited, and very significantly, from this practice.)
Various publications handle these pressures in various ways. Or rather, various publishers handle them in various ways. Ultimately, it’s up to the person sitting behind the publisher’s desk to Read the rest of this entry »