There. Someone finally went and said it - in a job posting no less. Frontier Airlines' in-flight magazine publishers, Mphasis Integrated, is looking for a Managing Editor via Craigslist. Even with my current career track I gave it a read through to see what was what. It is not a bad job, except for what will probably become, for me, a classic line:
"You should be very much ‘new school’ and supportive of the blurring lines between editorial and advertising (we are not a news magazine, we are an entertainment magazine)"
(Oh and for the purposes of posterity I have copied the entire job ad at the end of this post.)
New school? Blurring lines between editorial and advertising? Is this for real? Okay, let's pick it apart:
This is a manifestation of many things that editors and i have discussed over the years: whether to write the whole truth and nothing but the truth (something for which Steve Wolfe is well-known) or whether to hold back in the fear of distressing a valuable advertiser. And this is an issue that often comes up on this blog.
The established separation of 'church' (editorial) and 'state' (advertising) is a part of journalistic ethics, and although editors do sometimes get forced to be a little nicer than they would like in editorial, they still strive towards the ideal of complete editorial independence. Why? Because any editor worth his salt knows that readers are a) brighter than he/she and b) can spot 'advertorial' work from a mile away.
Yet it looks like Frontier's Inflight magazine is willfully ignoring those little details and asking the Managing Editor to make sure that advertorial looks like editorial, and corresponds to the amount of money changing hands. In journalistic terms this is considered selling one's soul to the devil.
More: One of my colleagues immediately found the term 'new school' to be ageist. Okay, he has about a decade more than I and is more sensitive to things regarding age, but it is an interesting slant - his take is that the assumption being made by the publisher is that 'old editors' are too ethical to be able to handle the 'blurring lines' and therefore they only want young editors (i.e. New School). By that same assumption, he says they will favor a young editor who is less experienced, has had less time to think about the issues regarding editorial integrity and has less hang ups about publishing assumption in the guise of fact.
Now, with this all in mind, and do note that as a Denver-ite Frontier Airlines is My Airline of Choice, it is now clear to me why I never get past the first page of this airline's in-flight magazine, and why I am never tempted to take it home with me. That's because it is crap. It is a beautifully designed piece of crap, but nonetheless, crap. Taking away editorial integrity in the name of money is a short-term solution, whether it is a print or online publication. People see through it instantly. And quit reading and believing. Can they get away with it since it is a corporate/in flight publication? Sure, to a degree, just the way many in-flight magazines have done over the years. But I have always seen Frontier Airlines as being a little different from the rest (great branding on their part), and so I think they should simply quit publishing it at all, and focus instead on some great video on their 'wildblueyonder' video channel on their planes. Now that would make sense to me!
The Job posting itself:
Mphasis Integrated, publisher of Frontier Airlines’ in-flight magazine, W!ld Blue Yonder is looking for a managing editor to work in its Denver, Colorado office. Currently W!LD Blue Yonder is a bimonthly magazine reaching over 1,000,000 readers per month, and our plan is to go monthly effective January 2009.
Working with a small, committed staff, the managing editor is responsible for the editorial content, planning, design, and production of the magazine, and for collaborating on the editorial development of the website (GOwildblueyonder.com). The managing editor’s responsibilities will include some writing (esp. advertorial and branded entertainment pieces); building and overseeing a network of exciting, connected writers; managing fact-checking / proofing processes; and working closely with the entire publishing team (sales, promotions, design, client) to deliver a top-notch, national caliber magazine.
You should be very much ‘new school’ and supportive of the blurring lines between editorial and advertising (we are not a news magazine, we are an entertainment magazine). We are committed to delivering content that both connects with our affluent, well-read audience AND delivers impactful support for the categories of our branded entertainment sponsors, predominantly in travel, but also in living (real estate, shelter, health); business and technology; and entertainment (music, reading, puzzles, fun).
Five years of progressive editorial and management experience; demonstrated writing and editing skills (esp. AP style); a B.A. or the equivalent; an established network of writer resources; experience in the in-flight or travel category preferred.