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Comments by YACCS
Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Freedom of speech and income

Elvis the penguin

"Where's my peanut butter and banana
sandwich, Red."

Advertising guidelines

Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 09:14:48 AM PST

There was some pre-election controversy over my running a Chevron ad. (It may still be running, for all I know.)

I avoided talking about it then to prevent an ill-timed pie war. But given the increased interest in advertising on the site by interests that may sometimes not be aligned with the goals of the site, I had to figure out an official ad policy. And I found it over at The Nation:

Although the relationship of the First Amendment to commercial advertising is complex, we start with strong presumption against banning advertisers because we disapprove of, or even abhor, their political or social views. But we reserve (and exercise) the right to attack them in our editorial columns.

The Nation does not consider itself bound by standards that must be applied to just any public forum. Our pages are primarily given over to articles that are consistent with the views of the editors. While we also publish articles and letters from readers that diverge from, or even diametrically contradict, the views of the editors, this is not out of a sense that our pages should be open to all or because we believe we are obliged to achieve balance. Whatever we publish appears in the magazine because in our judgment the views expressed deserve to be called to the attention of our readers by us. We are a magazine of limited circulation that enjoys no monopoly on the attention of our readers. They obtain other views in other places, and, through that process, determine for themselves what views to accept or reject.

Advertising is different. We accept it not to further the views of The Nation but to help pay the costs of publishing. We start, therefore, with the presumption that we will accept advertising even if the views expressed are repugnant to those of the editors. The only limits are those that grow out of our interest in assuring that the advertising does not impede our use of the editorial columns of The Nation to say what we want [...]

In imposing such limits, we will refrain from making judgments based on our opinions of the particular views expressed in an advertisement. If the purpose of the advertisement is to sell a product or service rather than to express a view, we will allow ourselves greater rein in making judgments about suitability. This reflects our view that commerce is less sacrosanct than political speech [...]

Clearly, the whole question is a matter of drawing fine lines and making nice distinctions. Ethics and practicality are interwoven throughout the substance of the issue of how to enable journals of opinion to survive and expand their reach. We do not pretend that troublesome problems are absent from this question.

Running an ad doesn't imply endorsement. But, if I start rejecting ads, THEN every ad that DOES run has an implied endorsement.

And you guys aren't idiots. The advertising purity trolls seem to think that site readers are moron automatons easily manipulated by advertising. I have a higher opinion of you guys. I actually think you're quite intelligent and capable of independent evaluation of the advertising you consume here and elsewhere.

Finally, I'm not afraid of money, and I'm putting it to good use -- the abandonment of Scoop and a massive ground-up redevelopment of Daily Kos to be the ultimate blogging platform in the world, and the establishment of a corps of "fellows" to do great activism.

More details on those projects will emerge in December, but bottom line is that I won't cry if Chevron or anyone else wants to help fund the rise of a professional netroots activist class.

The Nation's guidelines are fair all around and so I'm stealing them for myself.

First, let's be blunt, if we got the funding the right did, this wouldn't be an issue. But left wing donors are an especially cheap group of people. They have money and therefore are unaware of the need for others to have money.

No, we all don't go to our vacation homes for Christmas. No, we don't all have fond memories of a Princeton supper club. Most of us work for a living and need the help.

They like the work the blogs do, but supporting it is not in their picture.

Second, I don't think we should do what TV does and bounce ads. Someone has to pay for this work and if they want to kick in, well, let them.

But I think people should have the right to run ads which challenge the reader's beliefs. Here, I won't run any racist or pro-life ads, but as far as anything else, I think people should have a right to air their views without being forced to conform. I hate when TV stations do that, and I trust
my readers.

I think it would be great if both sides in a dispute would buy ads and let the readers make up their minds.

posted by Steve @ 6:53:00 PM

6:53:00 PM

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