Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 4, Discussion #10, Jack Miller

For this weeks second discussion we will be talking about an article titled "The Squeeze", written by Russ Baker, and published in the Columbia Journalism Review in 1997:

Chrysler's letter to more than 50 magazines it advertises in:
"In an effort to avoid potential conflicts, it is
required that Chrysler Corporation be alerted in
advance of any and all editorial content that
encompasses sexual, political, social issues or
any editorial that might be construed as
provocative or offensive. Each and every issue
that carries Chrysler advertising requires a
written summary outlining major theme/articles
appearing in upcoming issues. These
summaries are to be forwarded to PentaCom
prior to closing in order to give Chrysler ample
time to review and reschedule if desired . . . As
acknowledgement of this letter we ask that you
or a representative from the publication sign
below and return to us no later than February

The article, focusing on pressures applied to magazines by Chrysler, centers on the influence that corporations and advertisers can have on the content that a news media outlet decides to include or exclude from its publications. It gives several examples, some of which we will discuss in section, where advertisers pressured typically magazines to censor sensitive or controversial content, or place their ads next to lighter and more positive pieces. Many advocates for free press and free inquiry are concerned that these changes are being made at the expense of the public, for they are getting only a partial or watered down version of the original editorials. There have also been cases where magazines have written favorable articles in order to try to lure advertisers to buy space in their publications. I will leave a few questions and requests on this page that you all should consider and develop answers for before coming to discussion tomorrow.

  1. Is it realistic to believe that magazines can stay profitable without allowing any advertising influence to bleed over into it's editorial divisions? At what point does an advertiser claim too much influence, in your opinion?
  2. Is there importance in paying attention to ad placement in magazines and newspapers to determine whether articles are credible or contain the whole truth?
  3. This article was written in 1997, 16 years ago. Have the concerns expressed by Baker remained relevant? Have they subsided or intensified? Find evidence to back up your claims.
  4. What can magazines and other media outlets do to reduce the influence that advertisers can potentially have on the content they choose to include?
  5. If you have time, try to look through a magazine you have at home for any examples that could constitute favorable ad placement, or even instances where content may have been altered to make for more favorable advertising conditions.

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