Quite Clear No Doubt Somehow

By | September 20, 2004

During a recent confab at Wells Publishing Inc.’s lovely San Diego headquarters, the Insurance Journal editorial team had a lively discussion regarding the future of this very page. We met in part to discuss the future look of the magazine, including whether or not there ought to be an Editor’s Note.

As you may have noticed, many periodicals have something at the front of the book that is equivalent to our Editor’s Note. The idea behind it is usually that it helps the reader form a personal connection with the editor’s vision, personality and—sometimes, unfortunately—sense of humor. That said, the real estate in any magazine is valuable, and there are at least a dozen other things we could use this page for.

Ultimately, we decided in spite of some misgivings to keep it, barring an unexpected outcry from our readers (send me an e-mail if you’ve got an opinion!). We’ve also decided to adopt what is to our knowledge an insurance trade media-leading code of ethics. We haven’t got all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed quite yet, but a taste of what it will look like can be found online at www.americanbusinessmedia.com/

We want you as readers to know that the editorial content in IJ is here because, in our judgment, it is newsworthy and consequential for our audience of independent property/casualty agents and brokers—not because we got a free trip or a big ad buy. Sometimes the line is blurred because IJ’s advertisers are newsworthy in their own right. You may not find a lot of coverage of women’s underwear in your local newspaper’s front section, but you’ll definitely see plenty of stories about, say, habitational risks in IJ.

That we (probably) have advertisers who specialize in habitational risks is just a fact of life, not an ethical compromise. The important point is that we shouldn’t give them favorable coverage because they advertise with us, and we shouldn’t exclude other firms because they don’t. That’s a commitment we’re willing to make. Ultimately, it’s the collective judgment of the editorial staff that you must rely on as a reader. As we are not perfect, our judgment has failed before and it will fail again. But you should know at least that our judgments are made as independently as possible, subject only to our very human limitations.

That in the end is why we chose to keep this crucial space in the magazine. It’s a place for we editors to not only boast a little and rant a little, but to take responsibility for what we publish. As always, you can hold me responsible by giving me a call at my Chicago office, (773) 381-1572. Or write me an e-mail with your private comments, or for publication as a letter to the editor.

Most importantly, thanks for reading.

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