The American Society of Magazine Editors has criticised both Entertainment Weekly and ESPN the Magazine for running ads on the front cover of their magazines, arguing that both violate guidelines designed to maintain the industry’s editorial integrity.
ESPN‘s April 6 issue had a flap over half of its cover that read “You Wouldn’t Settle for an Incomplete Cover” with a less-prominent “Advertisement” notice. Inside the flap was the rest of the ad: “Then Don’t Settle for an Incomplete Drink.” Addressing ESPN, ASME said, “Not only does the flap constitute a misuse of the cover for advertising purposes, but the copy reading ‘You Wouldn’t Settle for an Incomplete Cover’ acknowledges that the flap impinges on the cover…The copy is also clearly and inappropriately intended to direct consumers away from editorial content toward the advertising on the reverse of the flap.”
The society is still discussing the cover of Entertainment Weekly‘s April 3 issue, which featured a tab instructing readers to “Pull This,” revealing an ad for ABC’s new series The Unusuals. But ASME noted that it was a violation of its editorial guidelines “because the cover notch and ad copy (‘Pull This!’), which directs consumers to an ad, serve no apparent or conceivable editorial purpose.” Both magazines, unsurprisingly, insisted they hadn’t done anything wrong.
ASME’s condemnations, however, don’t really have much power over either magazine. All they can do is ban “repeated and willful” violators from competing in the National Magazine Awards, of which Entertainment Weekly has won several. The society does, however, seem to be taking a tougher stance on cover ads, posting a new statement on its Web site that says “Advertising on the cover suggests editorial endorsement of advertised products, indicates that editorial coverage is for sale and threatens editorial independence.”
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