Lehmann-Haupt, Rachel, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management
Byline: Rachel Lehmann-Haupt
Hilary Macht, a freelance writer and former health editor at McCall's, was working at a women's health magazine in the late 1990s when direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising took off. Magazines everywhere were carrying seductive ads for a better life through antidepressants, arthritis drugs, cholesterol busters - and cures for erectile dysfunction. And, because these ads required a lengthy detailed disclosure statement (usually on a second page) along with the uplifting pitch, publishers loved the new category.
Macht's now-defunct magazine landed a schedule of ads from Eli Lilly for its hot new antidepressant, Prozac just when it was planning a big article about depression. The story covered Prozac and included statistics from a study showing that a significant number of patients suffered sexual side effects from the drug. Macht says that word came down from the top of the magazine to cut the sexual side effects from the article for fear that the magazine would lose the ad campaign. "It was a total breach of journalistic integrity," says Macht. "It crossed a boundary that shouldn't be crossed."
That's a gross example of the tricky interaction between health coverage - an increasingly popular subject for all consumer mags, but especially for women's service titles - and pharmaceutical advertising. Editors and writers are wined and dined by pharmaceutical companies and provided with helpful tips on what to cover. Some editors even admit to joining reps on sales calls to show that the product message is being heard by editorial. "It's not that common," says one former health editor. "But once or twice I had an ad rep ask me to come along on a sales call for a little show and tell. There was no direct pressure to do a story, but the client liked that I was …
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Publication information: Article title: Health Hazard. Contributors: Lehmann-Haupt, Rachel - Author. Magazine title: Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management. Volume: 33. Issue: 5 Publication date: May 1, 2004. Page number: Not available. © 2009 by Media Central Inc., A PRIMEDIA Company. All rights reserved. COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group.
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