US Office Encourages Anti-Drug Message in Magazine

US Office Encourages Anti-Drug Message in Magazine
Posted by FoM on April 01, 2000 at 10:18:59 PT
By Alex Kuczynski & Marc Lacey
Source: New York Times
Under a little-known financial agreement with the magazine industry, the Office of National Drug Control Policy has indirectly encouraged magazines to include anti-drug messages in their editorial content. 
An article in the online magazine Salon yesterday reported that six magazines -- U.S. News & World Report, The Sporting News, Family Circle, Seventeen, Parade and USA Weekend -- have benefited from a media campaign that the drug policy office put in place over the last year, giving financial incentives to magazines for content the office considers sympathetic to its anti-drug message. The arrangement partly mimics one that existed with the television industry. Until late January, White House drug policy officials were given advance viewings of more than 100 episodes on all the major networks. If the government signed off on a particular show that featured an anti-drug message, the networks received credit that reduced the number of expensive public service announcements they were required by law to broadcast. The White House was allowed to review some scripts and advance footage of such television shows as "E.R.," "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Cosby." After Salon reported the arrangement in January, the office said they would no longer collaborate with the networks in that manner. The drug policy office and executives of the six magazines mentioned in the Salon article said the office never read articles before publication in deciding whether to grant a credit and never influenced editorial content in any way. The current advertising campaign across all forms of media began in 1997, when the head of the office, Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, was authorized by Congress to spend up to $1 billion over five years in television and print advertising against drug use. For every advertisement bought by the office, the publication or network would run a public service announcement or advertisement. But media organizations were allowed to ask that an article that accentuates the anti-drug message be used as a substitute. Jacqueline Leo, president of the American Society of Magazine editors, said she saw nothing wrong with the arrangement. "There is an outright benefit to anyone who is in this program, whether it is in television or in print," Ms. Leo said. "This all sounds like it could lead down a slippery slope," she said, "but as far as I know that has not happened." Bob Weiner, a spokesman for the anti-drug office, said the arrangement did not interfere with editorial content. "We're doing everything legal and proper to get the word out to parents and kids in order to continue to get drug use down," Mr. Weiner said. Mr. Weiner said that no news articles were given credit, just feature articles that emphasize that children should not use drugs. He mentioned a Seventeen magazine article that was given credit because it featured the negative consequences that a young drug user faced. Parade magazine was not given credit for a cover article on General McCaffrey but did receive credit for a box that appeared with the profile that listed 10 tips for parents on how to talk to their children about drugs. The drug office does not deal with editors and does not interfere with the editorial process, he said. Instead, the office's advertising staff gives credit for some articles that the magazines submit after they have run. "We are not offering financial incentives for writing certain types of articles," Mr. Weiner said. "After the articles are written, decisions are made. There is a wall between the editorial process and the sale process. Although newspapers can also seek credit, the arrangement forbids news or editorials to be considered for the pro bono match. No newspapers have received advertising credit for editorial material that has appeared on their pages, said Shona Seifert, the executive who handles the drug office account for Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. But newspapers have struck a variety of other arrangements to satisfy the drug policy office. The New York Times has printed school guides. The Washington Post and other papers have run advertising on their Web sites plugging the drug policy office. Bill Holiber, the publisher of U.S. News & World Report, said he believed the magazine never actually submitted articles to the anti-drug office for official review; he said the office would buy the magazine on its own. But Mr. Holiber, who just recently assumed the publisher's post, said that although he did not see a conflict of interest, he would not run any advertisements this year from the anti-drug office. "I feel uncomfortable with the notion that a government agency would even think they could determine the value of editorial content," he said. Published: April 1, 2000Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company CannabisNews Related Articles & Salon Magazine News Items:The Drug War Gravy Train, Drugs & Civil Liberties - Ministers of Truth House Defends TV Drug-Ad Deal, 90210 Script Doctors Money, How the White House Secretly Hooked TV 
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Comment #4 posted by Kanabys on April 03, 2000 at 09:27:54 PT
Legalizeit and myself seem to be of one mind. I couldn't have written what I myself feel any better. I'm so sick of hearing stuff about the CHILDRUUUN, that I could puke. I really don't advocate that 'youngsters' use drugs, but when they become responsible adults, (keyword responsible) I see no problem with it. Why do adults have to give up all their rights on what they ingest because there are CHILDRUUUN out there? Because ya know what, these CHILDRUUN will one day become adults having to give up thier freedoms for the new batch of CHILDRUUN. When will this crap cease????
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Comment #3 posted by Wabo on April 02, 2000 at 09:51:41 PT
A rose by any other name...
>Bob Weiner, a spokesman for the anti-drug office, said the arrangement did not interfere with editorial content. What an unfortunate name this man has. I wonder if there are many water cooler comments about it being his name and also what he does best. }:)
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Comment #2 posted by legalizeit on April 01, 2000 at 21:53:17 PT
This is downright sinister! This mindless, misleading propaganda is weaseling its way into every aspect of our lives. As if DARE, "Just say no", McBizarro's drivel, etc. weren't enough, now we have TV and magazines parroting anti-drug crap in exchange for $$$!Who says the illegality of drugs isn't lucrative? Just ask the cops, the drug dealers, and now the media!Who are we to trust, when the government and mass media are bending and falsifying the truth for the sake of CHILDRUUUN?What a wonderful country to live in...
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Comment #1 posted by Doc-Hawk on April 01, 2000 at 10:53:40 PT:
Bob Weiner, a spokesman for the anti-drug office
Mr. Weiner indeed ;->....what a weiner!
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