Should the Editor . . .

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Ian Grant, Apr 14, 2006.

  1. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Should the editor of a magazine use the mailing list / marketing of that magazine to sell his own personal work.

    This has greater implications when you realise the magazine might have an online prescence. . . . . .

    Shouldn't an editor be neutral. Or put another way doesn't that actually totaly devalue the magazine's credibility.

    Ian
     
  2. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    NO!!!!!!! to the mailing list!

    if the editor uses the magazines ad space to advertise their prints, it is just taking space away from where there could have been magazine revenue generating things. If it is meant as something to put money partially into the publication and also the editor for his time and trouble of making said prints, I don't see anything wrong with that. That is a decision made by that publication and they know the implication of lost revenues from that space not going to other paying advertisers.
     
  3. hortense

    hortense Member

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    Brooks Jenson does and I have not heard any complaints. I think its okay.
     
  4. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    This does not surprise me.
     
  5. donbga

    donbga Member

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    How many digital ads have you seen in Lens Work lately?
     
  6. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    I can't bring myself to read lenswork anymore, let alone buy it.

    Bill
     
  7. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Most print magazines sell their mailing list, just as they do ad space. While he might have actually paid for the mailing list (most editors of larger print publications don't actually have direct access to the list), I think most editors would consider the practice tacky, as it just looks bad.

    Owner/publisher/editor types of publications may fall into a different category, as it's all one pocket.
     
  8. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    No, not unless, they have the explicit okay and authorization from the client...if you want to talk about lists, I can tell you I have one of the largest email targeted photographic lists in the world and I would not sell or use it for marketing.

    Dave
     
  9. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    Somehow I don't think Brooks Jensen cares too much about that fact. At least you don't see Henry Rasmussen using B&W (America) to sel his work... or do you?

    Bill
     
  10. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    There's no such thing as a neutral editor.

    There's probably no better way to sell photographs than to create a following. Picker did it with Zone VI, Michael and Paula are doing it with Azo, and Brooks is doing it with LensWork. Creative marketing for sure!

    Murray
     
  11. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Me too...
     
  12. lenswork

    lenswork Member

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    May I respond?

    Well, let me first state our "mailing list policy" -- the same policy we've had since the inception of LensWork back in 1993: We will never, ever sell, rent, loan or in any way make our mailing list available to anyone for any purpose. Period. We never have, we never will. Period.

    Now as to offering my own work via LensWork emails, I did and do -- but only to people who have signed up for our email notifications and have requested emails from us. We don't SPAM. Never have, never will. In our email signup, there are various areas of information you can choose to receive (or not receive) as you'd like. You may sign up to receive information about my personal prints. You may sign up to receive emails about items available in the LensWork store. Yesterday we sent an email to those two lists (only) about two new prints of mine. You would have only received these emails if you have signed up for them.

    As to the larger issue of "editor neutrality," I have always been very up front with our readers about this. I have no neutrality and have never claimed to be neutral. I am an advocate for fine art photography. I believe passionately about photography and the creative path, about prints, about creative vision, about making photographs. I've been passionate about photography for over 35 years and LensWork is an outgrowth of that passion. I am not neutral because I was a photographer long before I was an editor and will be one long after LensWork is a publishing memory.

    I wonder if this thread is about me or about "commerce"? Some of you know how expensive it is to publish a magazine. None of you have any idea how expensive it is to publish a magazine printed on a book press to museum-book printing standards. I do. I do it every sixty days. And I do it without taking any outside advertising. Where do you think the money comes from? We don't take outside advertising because we don't want to waste the valuable space in LensWork with ads and because we don't think photography is about equipment. We want to preserve every square inch of the magazine we can for CONTENT. Compare LensWork to any other magazine, and you'll see the difference immediately. I suppose I don't need to mention this to most of you. We do, however, use a few pages, in the back (usually 7-9, rarely more) to inform our readers about other products we publish -- call it advertsing if you'd like -- and we do sell things to help pay for the cost of running our business. I am not apologetic about this. Nor am I apologetic about the fact that some of the items we sell are things I produce myself -- like my books of essays about photography, my discs of podcasts -- or my prints.

    You see, I am one of the luckiest guys I know. My "work" and my "play" are the same thing. I do not distinguish between what I do for a living and what I do for passion. My life in photography is not divided between my "business" and my "hobby." I think photography everyday. I do photography everyday. I talk photography everyday. I love it. If you think that I should somehow separate my personal work from my professional work then you miss the essence of LensWork entirely. Since LensWork #1 we've include this statement on the very first page of every issue of LensWork -- that "Photography is, or can be, a way of life." I am simply living that statement.

    I know some of you have begun to sour on LensWork, on me -- partly because of my use of digital stuff, partly other reasons. I feel badly about this; it is my nature to be bothered that I seem to have offended folks. But I must admit that I have been puzzled by this animosity toward the one publication that seems to be exclusively devoted to the highest quality reproduction of fine art photographs rather than the latest equipment.

    The bottom line: I am who I am. LensWork is my publicaiton (I should say "ours" because it belong entirely to Maureen and me -- by the way, we were married 9 months before the birth of LensWork and remain blissfully so) and will continue to be an advocate for fine art photography as long as we choose to continue publishing it. We will continue to offer other products to help us defray the costs. Some of these products will be our "personal" photographic artwork -- as it has been since our very first LensWork Special Editions offerings in 1998, one of Maureen's nudes titled Suspended. If this is offensive to you or you think this violates some concept of "editor neutrality" I guess there is little I can do to persuade you otherwise. To the rest of our readers who find inspiration and fellow travelers when they read our magazine, books, and CDs, sometimes listen to our podcasts, or buy our prints, thanks. If it weren't for those of you who appreciate what we publish, we'd be out of business in a flash. In fact, you guys are the reason we are in the publishing business. You mean more to use than you'll ever know.
    Brooks Jensen
    Editor, LensWork Publishing
     
  13. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    I appreciate the quality of the reproductions in LensWork Brooks.

    Murray

    (added later) How does that saying go again...you can't please all of the people all of the time.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 15, 2006
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  15. Robert Brummitt

    Robert Brummitt Member

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    Bully for you, Brooks! I read your magazine as well as other magazines. I see no conflict of interest with you or Lenswork. Digital or not. It's about the creative process. I have seen other magazines do some interesting things with their space but its just business and we the consumers need to be aware of this.
    If you don't want your personal information given? Just say so if you can. If you can't then buy your magazines at the local community retailor. This goes many things. It supports your local business, keeps you off the magazines radar and if enough copies are sold then more are purchase by the retailor.
     
  16. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    I have signed up to; and generally enjoy Brooks Podcasts, I don't alway agree with him, but that's another matter. I do not currently subscribe to his magazine, although it's high-time I did. I cannot recollect receiving any unsolicited emails from him.
     
  17. cdholden

    cdholden Member

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    IMO, this screams out "CONFLICT OF INTEREST", unless said editor actually paid for the advertising space. Even then, I find it to be questionable. It would be in much better taste to advertise elsewhere. I would expect an editor to be unbiased in providing/approving material for the publication. Providing their own personal work disappoints that expectation, unless of course that publication is by and about the editor.
    Chris
     
  18. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    One characteristic of Lenswork (and it's in abundant evidence in Brook's post above) is that there is simply no ambiguity whatsoever about where the editorial point of view comes from or who it serves. Try to accurately discover what agendas drive the editorial bias of any other magazine. The 'popular' photo mags seem to be slavishly beholden to whatever their advertisers are pushing, and that creates the almost amusing hypocrisy of digicam advocacy illustrated by traditionally taken photographs. Even B&W seems to 'respond' in kind to their advertisers with feature articles and the like (recall the extensive spread on Michael and Paula whose photographs are advertised at the very front of the magazine in almost every issue. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it can raise eyebrows nonetheless.).

    In the interest of avoiding hypocrisy it would be interesting to have those who are throwing stones here be upfront about their own agendas and motives if they have any that haven't been disclosed.
     
  19. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    A neutral, or unbiased editor is an absolute impossibility.

    Brooks is not just the editor...the whole enchilada is his and Maureens to do with as they see fit...they own it!

    Murray
     
  20. cdholden

    cdholden Member

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    Murray,
    I initially replied to the original post. I have since edited my comment since reading all the other replies. It seems that Brooks is the exception, not the rule. Most magazines are cheaply printed and have several advertisements.
    Chris
     
  21. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    Hi Chris, no worries mate :wink:

    Murray

    P.S. I'm a slave to the edit button...
     
  22. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    FWIW

    I must confess I did not know this thread was about you as I don't get your emails. It did turn quickly to you, so I should have guessed you might have stirred some more controversy. Sure gets people to read, Doesn't it? :smile:

    Any one of the several thousand folks subscribing to my newsletter knows I have no problem with self promotion or commerce. Where I would and do have a problem is if I subscribe to say, "Rolling Stone" and because of this having to receive solicitations for Jann Wenner's garage band CD's or have to be subjected to ads for my National Geographic Editor's home travel videos. This is not why I would subscribe.
    You'll certainly get no argument from me on that one. At least if I subscribe to "Martha Stewart Living" I can be pretty sure I'll get solicitations for other MARTHA products without having to read the fine print or check the correct boxes. Same with Oprah's "O". Why not just cut to the chase, end the controversy and call your magazine "Brooks"? Better yet, start a separate publication with that name. That way those interested in the photography and fine printing can buy that one and the person interested in Brooks Jensen, his work and philosophy of the fine photography business can buy the other.

    Bill
     
  23. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    Well Bill, I for one enjoy seeing the wide spectrum of photographic styles represented in LensWork. This is important, because I have no access (that I can hold in my hands) to the work of photographers who take their work seriously, unless I want to drive 1000 miles to the nearest photography gallery. I also think it's important to be able to trust the reproductions being as close to the photographers originals that's possible in a magazine format.

    I don't find Brooks' selling of his own photographs heavy handed at all, and I'm sure the other photographers selling their work via LensWork don't have a problem with the no advertising/selling of prints to create revenue philosophy either.

    Murray
     
  24. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think it's okay, if it's done in moderation. I'm curious to know, if the editor of a photo magazine happens to be a photographer (and there's no reason the editor has to be a photographer), what kind of work he or she does, so if the magazine offers a portfolio or special edition print by the editor occasionally, or if a gallery owner wants to do a solo show of his own work every five years or so, I'm fine with that.

    If the magazine becomes a vehicle for the editor/publisher's self-promotion and it starts getting in the way of the content, well, then it starts to look unbecoming of the editor. Now I know that in some cases, magazine editors have been known to write under a pseudonym (or various pseudonyms) because the staff writers just aren't good enough, and they have a shortage of content, but I don't think that's an issue with LensWork.

    If people are complaining, Brooks, maybe that's just a sign that it's time to back off a bit. The coherent editorial vision in the selection of the portfolios and high quality of the reproductions makes Lenswork a classy publication. Too much "Brooks and Maureen," though, will turn it into a tacky publication.
     
  25. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Personally, I have no issue with how you use your mailing list - you have been very up front with it. My problem with LensWork is the digital content.
     
  26. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    I am the editor of a peer-reviewed technical journal.

    The Society that publishes the journal has strict rules requiring that the editor be unbiased and impartial. While there is no prohibition against the editor submitting work to the journal, there is an absolure requirement that the editor recuse himself from any editorial decisions regarding his own work.

    My personal view is that I must take things a step further and make sure that there is never even a question about my integrity. That means that I have imposed on myself the constraint that I will not submit work to the journal during my tenure as editor.

    Applying that principle to Ian's more generic question, I believe that it is unethical for an editor to use the publication's mailing list to sell his own work. I know Brooks Jensen sells his work through Lenswork, and Steve Anchell advertises in Focus - to me, that seriously compromises their integrity as an editors. And while I know this observation may irritate some folks, I have to point out that Steve Simmons does NOT sell his work through View Camera.

    There is actually a broader question - is it proper for the editor of a magazine to engage in any commercial promotions. My view on that is that promoting the magazine, growing its circulation, and agressiving shilling commercial ventures that are part of the magazine publication business do benefit the editor. But these things are part of his job, and the benefits are not limited only to the editor. So the key consideration is whether the commercial activities that editor is promoting benefit only the editor (in which case there are ethical issues) or whether they benefit the general ownership and staff of the publication (business is business).