Ads: Site policy re commercial advertising
We don't screen our ads - they're targeted via Google ads -- with the notable exception of ads for overtly right-wing candidates and causes. The resource linked below explains how to help us get those ads off the site.
But relative to other possible advertisers, aren't you glad they're spending their money with us instead of someplace people might take them to heart? :-) We figure it's a two-fer.
Screening sounds simple, but with the volume of ads we handle, it's not really practical. We can agree that KeystoneXL is not on our good guys list. But what about the hotel down the road from you? Is it a union workplace? Is it clean and comfortable? Is the owner donating to SuperPACs? We don't know, and there's no way to validate every last advertiser as being 100% in line with a particular value set. The truth is usually complicated. If we started screening some, we'd have to screen them all.
Often you can trick Google into changing your ads by viewing a website for some expensive purchase, like a car, vacation, etc. And, of course, there is also the option to Subscribe, which gets you the ability to view the site ad-free. Users here for the past year will perhaps know that our online subscription portal has been under repair, but the restoration of online subscriptions will happen soon.
A post written by the site's founder back in 2006, "Advertising guidelines," lays out the rationale for our original policy, which has not shifted much in the years since. The entire post follows.
There was some pre-election controversy over my running a Chevron ad. (It may still be running, for all I know.) I avoided talking about it then to prevent an ill-timed pie war. But given the increased interest in advertising on the site by interests that may sometimes not be aligned with the goals of the site, I had to figure out an official ad policy. And I found it over at The Nation :
Although the relationship of the First Amendment to commercial advertising is complex, we start with strong presumption against banning advertisers because we disapprove of, or even abhor, their political or social views. But we reserve (and exercise) the right to attack them in our editorial columns. The Nation does not consider itself bound by standards that must be applied to just any public forum. Our pages are primarily given over to articles that are consistent with the views of the editors. While we also publish articles and letters from readers that diverge from, or even diametrically contradict, the views of the editors, this is not out of a sense that our pages should be open to all or because we believe we are obliged to achieve balance. Whatever we publish appears in the magazine because in our judgment the views expressed deserve to be called to the attention of our readers by us. We are a magazine of limited circulation that enjoys no monopoly on the attention of our readers. They obtain other views in other places, and, through that process, determine for themselves what views to accept or reject. Advertising is different. We accept it not to further the views of The Nation but to help pay the costs of publishing. We start, therefore, with the presumption that we will accept advertising even if the views expressed are repugnant to those of the editors. The only limits are those that grow out of our interest in assuring that the advertising does not impede our use of the editorial columns of The Nation to say what we want [...] In imposing such limits, we will refrain from making judgments based on our opinions of the particular views expressed in an advertisement. If the purpose of the advertisement is to sell a product or service rather than to express a view, we will allow ourselves greater rein in making judgments about suitability. This reflects our view that commerce is less sacrosanct than political speech [...] Clearly, the whole question is a matter of drawing fine lines and making nice distinctions. Ethics and practicality are interwoven throughout the substance of the issue of how to enable journals of opinion to survive and expand their reach. We do not pretend that troublesome problems are absent from this question.
Running an ad doesn't imply endorsement. But, if I start rejecting ads, THEN every ad that DOES run has an implied endorsement.
And you guys aren't idiots. The advertising purity trolls seem to think that site readers are moron automatons easily manipulated by advertising. I have a higher opinion of you guys. I actually think you're quite intelligent and capable of independent evaluation of the advertising you consume here and elsewhere.
Finally, I'm not afraid of money, and I'm putting it to good use -- the abandonment of Scoop and a massive ground-up redevelopment of Daily Kos to be the ultimate blogging platform in the world, and the establishment of a corps of "fellows" to do great activism.
More details on those projects will emerge in December, but bottom line is that I won't cry if Chevron or anyone else wants to help fund the rise of a professional netroots activist class.
The Nation's guidelines are fair all around and so I'm stealing them for myself.