Monday, February 27, 2006

Question of the week (#2)

What role should editors play with regards to advertorials?

At our recent meeting on editorial ethics, there seemed to be an agreement that editors should know of the advertorials to run in their magazines but should not be involved with their production. But the real world of b2b publishing isn't so cut and dry, many attendees at the meeting admitted that the editors on their publications were frequently involved with the production of advertorials.

With this knowledge in hand, here are a few additional questions to ponder:
Should editors, freelancers, the sales team or advertisers write them?
How should these pages be designed?
Should they be labeled as advertorials?

Please feel free to share your thoughts. This forum is not limited to members; all are welcome to participate. And, if you missed the last question of the week, read it here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A change on the board

Our long-time board member and first chapter secretary, Jessica Harper, has decided to resign from the board. The other board members and I would like to thank her for her dedicated efforts in making this chapter a success. We will miss her regular input, but we support her decision to focus her attention on keeping her magazine healthy and thriving.

That leaves an open spot on our board. We'd love for those interested in offering their b2b knowledge and resources (as well as a little bit of time) to their fellow b2b editors to consider joining our team. We meet several times a year to plan meetings and brainstorm topics. If you'd like to apply for the position, send your resume to Amy. She'll also be able to answer any questions that you may have.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Meeting recap: Editorial ethics

Panel discusses towing the editorial ethics line
By Jody Shee

Editors earn their gray hair as they are challenged not only to ensure that the publication comes out in one piece and on time, but also to maintain editorial integrity as some unknowingly (or knowingly) chip away at it.

For Lance Jungmeyer, editor of Vance Publishing's The Packer, a weekly newspaper with a circulation of 13,000 produce industry members, the decision to fire a reporter who plagiarized a story was clear-cut.

What he finds more difficult is handling sources who expect good coverage of their company because they advertise in the publication, Jungmeyer said at the Kansas City ASBPE chapter meeting in mid-February. He was one of two panelists who addressed ethics issues at the meeting.

Keeping the balance especially is challenging since The Packer’s readers also are its sources and advertisers, and the newspaper’s main competitor writes positive stories for its advertisers, Jungmeyer said.

Keeping the separation between editorial and advertising is easier for a publication that doesn’t run news stories, said panelist Angie Gates. She is an advertising sales representative for Grounds Maintenance magazine published by Prism Business Media (formerly Primedia Business Magazines and Media).

However, it still is necessary to educate sources that they cannot dictate the coverage that will appear in the publication, Gates said as she recalled a meeting with a client who requested that they write an article explaining that his product was the best on the market. Gates listened to the editor tactfully suggest alternative articles to the client. “The researcher didn’t know journalism ethics. We have to open up and communicate and let them know,” she said.

Source reviews
When asked if any of the publications allow the sources/advertisers to review the articles before they print, the panelists and everyone in the meeting agreed that it’s a dangerous practice.

If advertisers were allowed to review the copy ahead of time, they would call their ad rep to complain if they didn’t like what was in the article, and that’s something Gates said she would rather not get in the middle of. “Not knowing makes my job easier,” she said.

Jungmeyer explains to sources who request to see the article ahead of time, “If we did that for you, we would have to do it for others. Then what would be the value of the article?” he said.

While most attending the meeting agreed that it is okay to read back a source’s quotes if they ask for it, one editor said she rarely allows that to happen. Reading quotes back opens the publication up to more problems, she said.

Editors vs. advertorials
Editors should be aware of the intent and strategy of the advertorials the advertising side comes up with, but Jungmeyer said he strongly believes that the editorial staff should not be involved in writing the advertorials. “They don’t even need to know about them,” he said.
Advertorials for Grounds Maintenance magazine are written by public relations agencies, Gates said.

Yet when asked for a show of hands, nearly half of those attending the meeting said that the editorial staff for their publications is involved in writing advertorials.

Note: This meeting sparked so much conversation that we'll continue to post more b2b ethics questions online. Read the current question here.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Looking for b2b bloggers

Martha Spizziri, the web editor for the ASBPE website is looking for members who write or contribute to a blog for their publications of for the publications' industries.

If you fit the profile, visit ASBPE Boston Blog: Looking for Industry Blogs from Members for the details.

Question of the week

Thanks to everyone who attended our February meeting on creating an editorial and sales balance. Jody Shee, our chapter secretary, will post the meeting recap soon for those of you who weren't able to attend.

But there is more to be said on this topic than could be addressed during the luncheon. So, to continue the discussion, I will post a new question every week to tackle a different aspect of this topic.

This week's pondering: At surface level, it may seem easy for an editorial team to say, "We don't allow that," and draw a firm line between editorial and ads. But some of us on b2b publications currently don't have a firm line to work from. How do you decide where this line is? How do you change the culture of acceptance within your own editorial and sales teams? And how do you tell advertisers that "We don't do that" when "we" did it last week?

Share your thoughts by clicking on "Add a comment" below. And if you have additional questions on this topic or another topic, please email me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

News: China vs. the press

In China, a group of former senior party officials attacked the government's restrains on the press in an open letter that was publicly released on Feb. 13, 2006.

In the group:
  • Li Rui, secretary to Chairman Mao Zedong
  • Hu Jiwei, former editor of the People's Daily, the Communist party's newspaper
  • Zhu Houze, former party propaganda chief and a former newspaper editor.
According to the report I heard on NPR this morning, these men have a bit more freedom to — on occassion — express divergent views from the party line because they hold or have held high postions within the government.

Quotes from the open letter:
  • "“History demonstrates that only a totalitarian system needs news censorship, out of the delusion that it can keep the public locked in ignorance."
  • "Depriving the public of freedom of expression so nobody dares speak out will sow the seeds of disaster for political and social transition."
BBC News, "Party elders attack China censors"
Reuters via The Washington Post, "Mao aide joins battle against China censors"

News: Blog on magazine blogs debuts

B2B publishing blogger Paul Conley and former Ziff-Davis president Hershel Sarbin have launched a new product: MagazineEnterprise360, a blog devoted to the topic of magazine blogs.

The new blog covers both B2B and B2C magazines. Eventually, the Sarbin and Conley plan to add more interactive features to the ME360 site, including e-mail briefings, roundtables, more blogs, and special reports.

Paul's guide to magazine blogging (mentioned in this week's post on what makes a blog good) is worth a read for anyone getting started with — or struggling to find a voice for —— a magazine blog.

This post originally appeared on the Boston chapter's blog.
ASBPE Boston Blog: Blog on Magazine Blogs Debuts

Monday, February 13, 2006

The word is out

News of our new blog is spreading. Paul Conley mentioned its creation on his blog. You can read the short post here. Within his post, you'll notice a link to another of his posts about how Kansas City is the best spot of B2B publishing.

Also, I'm going to begin a B2B blogs of note resource, so if you have a journalism blog that we should know about, leave a comment or send me an email.

Sign up for Wednesday's meeting

Just a reminder to about our next meeting with yummy Chinese food at BoLings—isn't that tempting?

Wednesday's topic: Creating an editorial and sales balance. We'll take a look at how to hold the line between editorial and sales and discuss such topics as advertorials, special reports and other ethical issues. If you're interested, let Amy Fischbach know ASAP.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Call for nominees: 2006 ASBPE Young Leaders Scholarship

Deadline for entries is April 28.

The ASBPE Young Leaders Scholarship has been created to foster interest in the American Society of Business Publication Editors with younger editors who are advancing in their editorial careers. The scholarship is sponsored annually by the organization, and allows younger editors — who might otherwise be unable — to attend the ASBPE National Editorial Conference. This year’s conference is scheduled for July 20-21, 2006 in Chicago. The conference contains two days of intensive editorial sessions.

Winners will also attend the ASBPE National Awards Banquet at the Embassy Suites Hotel on July 20. This dinner banquet honors the best in the business press, including the announcement of the annual ASBPE Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

These scholarships are open to all business editors, including print and Web. Scholarships pay the conference and hotel room costs for five worthy applicants per year. Transportation to and from the conference, any nonconference meals, and other incurred costs are the responsibility of the winners or their individual publishing companies. Winners of the award will also receive a free one-year membership to ASBPE if they are not already members.

Applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  • be 30 years of age or younger (as of July 19, 2006).
  • have worked at least two years as an editor at a business magazine or the magazine’s associated Internet publication.
  • be sponsored by their publication’s chief editor.
  • plan to continue in the business press as a career.
  • not be a past ASBPE Young Leaders Scholarship winner.

Download an entry form (164K Word doc).

The deadline for entry is April 28, 2006. Scholarship winners will be notified on or before May 19, 2006. A listing of all winners will also be posted on the ASBPE website. If you have questions about your submission or general questions about the scholarship, please email them to or call ASBPE headquarters at (630) 510-4588.