Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ms. Magazine

I don’t think magazines are ethically required to be open forums for advertisers. Magazines have a symbiotic relationship with advertising because they sell space and make a profit, and in return the ads are seen by the magazine’s readership, but this symbiotic relationship doesn’t require a magazine to accept every or any ad. Magazines have images to maintain. I’m sure Vogue doesn’t want ads for teen retail chains like Factory 4 U. Boy’s Life would shy away from alcohol advertising. Outside magazine probably doesn’t want to advertise Roberto Cavalli stilettos with four inch heels. Ms. Magazine has a feminist, socially just image; if Ms. doesn’t want to accept advertising because they think it detracts from that image, then it is their prerogative to refuse it.
Also, advertising wasn’t paying the bills. At the time of it’s suspension, Ms. Magazine was losing money. If accepting advertising isn’t financially sound, then a business like Ms. Magazine can’t ethically be required to do it.
Magazines are different from Newspapers. They aren’t and shouldn’t be required to be objective; they target specific audiences and promote their own agendas. Magazines are essentially businesses and therefore shouldn’t be required to accept advertising they feel is bad for their business.


smokey said...

I'd have to agree with you. In addition, I would think that if a consumer did not agree with the content of the magazine, they would not support it by purchasing it. It would be like buying a book; no advertising and you don't buy it if you don't care for the content. A magazine that is not supported by advertising should only show loyalties to their readers.

I subscribe to a small magazine that is all about automotive restoration. It used to be full color with advertising - like most car magazines (without the scantily clad women and snooty editorialism). About 12 years ago, they made the big decision to go sponsorless and rely totally on subscriptions for financial support. At first it looked like a photocopied newsletter, but has since improved. It is still black and white print and not too many pages, but probably enjoys as more readership than ever.

The whole reason to drop advertising was so that they could be completely objective in their content without having to show any loyalty to advertisers. This magazine is all about information - info that their readers want. Their loyalty is mostly to their readers (I say mostly because they still have owners and must show at least some profit). As a subscriber, I hope they never change their format back to the glossy style with advertising.

jenopus said...

I'm with both of you on this one. I remember in Media Smarts analyzing the ads in differents magazines, and it was shocking to find what images were portrayed about race and gender. I think a magazine that does not rely on its advertising for profit deserves an award more than any other. That means that they are making it clearly on the merit of their magazine quality. How great. Can you imagine if People or Time went that way? Weird...