What I approve

“What I approve is a reflection of me.”  

My boss had those words written on flip chart paper and tacked to his wall the entire 10 years I worked for him. Every time I was in his office, I read that sentence. Those words were a reminder to himself and to all of us that there was no distinction between what he put his name on and who he was as a professional.

I was reminded of my boss’s saying when I read a recent article in Forbes magazine. The article included this sentence:

“Contrary to the assumptions of East Coast magazines such as The Atlantic which paint a picture of a devastated and dumb rural America, places like Iowa are doing very well indeed and are likely to continue doing so.”

The Forbes writer referenced the article written by Stephen Bloom. But Bloom is forgotten here. The writer invokes the well known magazine name – The Atlantic.

Readers have expectations when they pick up a magazine or newspaper. They expect the editors will ensure a level of writing quality and content accuracy consistent with the editorial mission – whether the stories are produced by employees of the publication or provided by a free lancer, whether the articles are in the print or online editions of the magazine. In the public relations world, we called this editorial oversight ‘third-party endorsement.’ That endorsement was why clients valued public relations placements so highly.

Readers of The Atlantic have an expectation that the magazine’s editors reviewed and approved of the Bloom article, a piece of writing riddled with errors, laden with out dated stereotypes, and illogically, purposely vindictive. Did regular readers of The Atlantic feel short changed by Bloom’s article? Did readers question why a nationally respected magazine they read and admire would publish such a piece?

Do the editors of The Atlantic now question using Bloom’s article? They might want to consider that. After all, what they approve is a reflection of them.

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