Folio magazine has written an article about my dispute with Ziff Davis over that company's insertion of ads into the bodies of stories.
Take a look.
I think it's fair to say that while folks such as Rex Hammock and Jeffrey Seglin (both quoted in the Folio article) agree with me that the ads are violations of our industry's ethical standards, the folks at Ziff Davis disagree. Rather, Michael Vizard, editorial director and senior vice president of Ziff Davis Enterprise Group, says the ads are "in compliance with existing ASME and ASBPE guidelines as we understand them."
But consider, if you will, the wording of ASME's ethical guidelines: "Advertisers should not pay to place their products in editorial pages nor should they demand placement in return for advertising. Editorial pages may display and credit products and tell readers where to buy them, as long as those pages are solely under editorial control."
The key here, it seems to me, is that last section. Editorial pages must be "solely under editorial control."
I think it's clear that ASBPE is even more clear in its ethics guidelines: "Contextual links within editorial content should not be sold.”
But I think the award for clarity on this issue has to go to American Business Media. Here's what ABM has to say: "Hypertext links that appear within the editorial content of a site, including those within graphics, must be solely at the discretion of the editors. Links within editorial should never be paid for by advertisers."
But as clear as these rules are to me, they are apparently not clear enough for the senior management at Ziff Davis. Vizard wants ASBPE and ASME to be even more direct. He tells Folio magazine that "Should these officially recognized bodies adopt specific policies related to IntelliTXT ads, we would welcome that clarification and would also be inclined to comply with those guidelines."
Now putting aside that Jeffrey Seglin is a member of the ASBPE ethics committee, and that in the Folio article he seems to offer exactly the sort of clarification that Vizard says he wants, let's try to put an end to this depends-upon-what-the-meaning-of-the word-'is'-is foolishness.
Let's just ask the "officially recognized bodies."
So here goes: I'm formally asking that ASBPE, ASME and ABM issue statements on the use of advertising links in stories. Please publish your opinions on your Web sites and/or the comment section of this blog.
For other takes on this issue, see what Matt McAlister, Eric Shanfelt and Rex Hammock have to say.
tags: journalism, b2b, media, trade press, magazines, newsletters, business media, journalism ethics, advertising