SEPARATION OF ‘CHURCH AND STATE’—
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM ASME
For more than two decades, the American
Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) has
issued guidelines to make sure that the
difference between advertising and editorial content is transparent to readers and
that there is no advertiser influence or
pressure on editorial independence. In a
newly released edition, ASME has tried to
make the guidelines easier to understand
and to distill them into 10 basic statements of principle and practice.
Design. Advertisements should
look different enough from editorial
pages that readers can tell the difference.
To avoid confusion, any ad that looks
enough like an editorial story or feature
that it could be mistaken for one should
be slugged Advertisement or Promotion
at the top of each page in type as prominent as the magazine’s normal body type.
Covers. The front cover and spine
are editorial space. Companies and
products should appear on covers only in
an editorial context and not in a way that
suggests advertisement. (This includes use
of cover stickers.)
Adjacencies. Advertisements should
not be placed or sold for placement
immediately before or after editorial pages
that discuss, show or promote the advertised products.
Logos. Advertiser logos should not
appear on editorial pages except in a
journalistic context. A magazine’s logo
should appear on advertising pages only
in connection with advertisements for the
magazine and its promotions or when an
advertised product is touting editorial
awards that it has won.
Sponsorship. Sponsorship lan-
guage (e.g. sponsored by, presented
by, etc.) should not appear in connection
with regularly occurring editorial features.
Such language may be used in connection
with editorial extras (special issues, inserts,
and contests) as long as the editorial content does not endorse the sponsor’s products and any page announcing the
sponsorship is clearly an ad or is labeled
Advertisement or Promotion in a type size
as prominent as the magazine’s normal
body type. Advertisers may sponsor out of
book events such as awards shows and
conferences, and that sponsorship may be
acknowledged without labeling on either
advertising or editorial pages.
Advertising sections. Editorial-
looking sections or pages that are not
produced by a magazine’s editors are not
editorial content. They should be labeled
Advertisement, Special Advertising Section
or Promotion at the top of every page in
type as prominent as the magazine’s normal body type.
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.
Editorial staffing and titles. A mag-
azine’s editorial staff should not be
involved in producing advertising in that
magazine. Advertising and marketing staff
should not use titles that imply editorial
involvement (e.g., merchandising editor).
Editorial review. For a publica-
tion’s chief editor to monitor compliance with these guidelines, every effort
must be made to show all advertising
pages, sections, and their placement to the
editor far enough in advance to allow for
Advertising review. While editors
or publishers may share the general
topic matter of upcoming editorial content with advertisers, specific stories, layouts or tables of contents should not be
submitted for advertiser review.
ASME is a non-profit professional
organization for editors of print and
online magazines which are edited, published and distributed in the U.S. The
organization is known for its work to preserve editorial independence.
MONEY-SAVING TIP: FIRE YOUR
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