So much for the wall of separation

Integrity in national journalism is officially dead:

Time Inc. has fallen on hard times. Would you believe that this once-proud magazine publishing empire is now explicitly rating its editorial employees based on how friendly their writing is to advertisers?

Last year—in the opposite of a vote of confidence—Time Warner announced that it would spin off Time Inc. into its own company, an act of jettisoning print publications once and for all. Earlier this year, the company laid off 500 employees (and more layoffs are coming soon). And, most dramatically of all, Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp now requires his magazine’s editors to report to the business side of the company, a move that signals the full-scale dismantling of the traditional wall between the advertising and editorial sides of the company’s magazines. … — “Time Inc. Rates Writers on How “Beneficial” They Are to Advertisers,”

And then there’s this, in which a Sports Illustrated article about Drew Brees was basically one long advertisement for a TRX training system. The article failed to mention that Brees is an investor in the company that makes the equipment, according to Forbes.

Here’s SI’s half-hearted reply:

This was a story about how an elite QB entering his 14th season stays at the top of his game, while affording readers access to those same training methods. It was not a story about TRX, though we should have disclosed the relationship. It was unintentional, but it should have been acknowledged.

How does a magazine on the level of Sports Illustrated, which is part of Time, fail to make such an acknowledgment unless, of course, that wouldn’t have been beneficial for advertisers.

About the Author

Jeremy Styron
Jeremy Styron
I am a newspaper editor, op-ed columnist and reporter working in the greater Knoxville area. This is a personal blog. Views expressed here are mine and mine alone.

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