Sid Holt, chief executive of the American Society of Magazine Editors, shot us an e-mail this morning in response to TV Guide president Scott Crystal’s comments yesterday. Crystal said ASME’s editorial guidelines should be "blown up" and magazines should start running ads on the cover if they want to.
Here is Holt’s response:
"Oh, criminy—this is what I get for dragging Scott off a golf course in a driving rainstorm. Look, ASME’s not telling anybody how to run his or her business. If Scott wants to put an ad on the cover of TV Guide, that’s his decision. This isn’t about ASME; this is about readers and advertisers. In the case of ads on covers, the ASME guidelines only reflect longstanding industry practices.
I’ve run magazines on the trade side that put ads on their covers, so I know what some of the issues are. Consumer magazines don’t run ads on their covers because ASME tells them not to. They don’t do it because they’re afraid it’ll cheapen the brand in the eyes of consumers and marketers. They don’t do it because they don’t want readers and advertisers wondering if editorial coverage is for sale. They don’t do it because they don’t want clients wondering what deals their competitors are getting—the ASME guidelines protect publishers too, you know.
Editors know the business is changing—editors make hard-nosed business decisions every day, decisions that can make or break a magazine—which is one reason ASME is working on revising the guidelines. This isn’t an Us vs. Them thing, Publishers vs. Editors—this is about driving innovation that works. ASME will work with anyone on anything that will ensure our medium stays competitive and beats the challenges our industry—that’s our, as in editors’ and publishers’—is facing."