One last post before I hit the road: The WSJ (free feature) reports ASME will release new editorial guidelines for magazines today, which sound much like the old ones, just different. (The article does not make the distinction that this is for consumer magazines.)
I think the magazine industry is too broad to issue guidelines that attempt to define what is ethical or not ethical in all instances and in all categories of magazines. Too often, such guidelines do not provide practical answers in specific gray areas, but rather provide “cover” for those who can figure ways to finesse the rules.
More importantly, such guidelines suggest magazine readers, perhaps the most savvy group of media “consumers” are too dumb to process the types of business-relationships they see dozens of times a day in other media.
I’m sure these guidelines will provide plenty of feel-good fuzzies for those who issue them. However, I’d rather such groups call for transparency and accountability in revealing all relationships between marketers and media, rather than playing Church Lady and issuing “commandments” to define specific sins.