In a comment to previous post titled “Content Is King“, Nancy Johnson, editor-in-chief of Cadalyst, took strong exception to my suggestion that print magazines “sell their editorials and articles to the highest bidder“. She wrote:
I also continue to see references to print publications that allow vendors to pay for content. No one ever names names, which makes me wonder how confident they are about those statements. For the record, Cadalyst (at least as long as I’ve been with it) has never been paid by a vendor to publish content or traded advertising for editorial coverage. Bloggers who make references to this practice would do the CAD community a big favor if they provided some examples to support those claims.
The following is part of an email I received from a UK magazine:
We are now putting together our September/October edition, and have a Full Colour A4 Editorial Feature Page available within a prime position within the editorial matter, which will ensure your article receives maximum coverage from our exclusive circulation
I am hoping that you may have some of the following information that you can supply to me by 5 o’clock Friday 18th September, as I am able to offer this for just £350 which just covers our cost for printing and mailing. (Normal Rate £1,445)
Latest Product Innovation, or Case Study
(All we would require is a couple of colour images along with up to six hundred words of text approx)
I had never advertised on this magazine before and neither did I know anyone from the magazine personally. This email was a complete cold call. So I found it odd that they were so openly and blatantly offering the magazine’s editorial for sale like this to a complete stranger. I sent this particular section of the email to a few of my editor friends and asked them whether, in their opinion, this was “pay for play”. They all thought it was. The phrase “prime position within editorial matter” didn’t leave much to imagination. But before jumping to conclusions, however logically strong they may have seemed to be, I decided to get it straight from the horse’s mouth. So I replied back and asked for clarification. This is what I wrote:
Can you explain “Full Colour A4 Editorial Feature Page available within a prime position within the editorial matter”. Do you mean that the article that we submit to you will be featured as an editorial, or will it be separated from the editorial and appear as an article written by us?
Here is the shocking reply:
Yes the article that you submit, will be featured within relevant editorial matter, all we would require is a couple of colour images along with up to six hundred words of text approx, please let me know as soon as possible if you would like me to reserve this page for you.
Then there are certain publications that happily take pay-for-play editorial – you know who you are – and that is a budget issue for the CAD vendors, but if it leads to sales, we will do it.
It is one thing when bloggers make claims of “pay for play” in the print media. But quite another when a CAD vendor comes out and publicly asserts that “pay for play” happens in the print media.
And by the way, this blogger is not making claims anymore. I have proof. If anyone wants to see it, contact me.