Why The New Yorker Changed Its Advertisement Policy

Many years ago, Harold Ross, the founding editor of The New Yorker, was upset about the magazine including ads endorsed by writers. He found it beneath The New Yorker and its audience, so he sent a memo to an aide for Raoul Fleischmann, the magazine’s publisher:

Our readers, or the readers we hope to hold and get for the New Yorker are intelligent enough to know that this stuff is the bunk. We are being shortsighted in running it. We have an opportunity to live honestly. We also have the great privilege now of being in a position to lead the advertising industry for Christ’s sake. Let us no longer pussyfoot. Let us be really honest, and not just slick. I think that in our present prosperous condition we could afford to suffer even a temporary small loss in revenue to keep our conscience clear.

Fleischmann agreed with Ross’ take, so The New Yorker reformed its ad selection process. “It stopped allowing testimony from its own contributors and avoided ads for dubious products like patent-medicine cures, which were a fixture of magazine pages back then,” explains a post on Currency, The New Yorker’s new blog. “Instead, its pages were filled with ads for upscale car companies, expensive lingerie, beauty creams, and other aspirational items.”

Let this serve as a reminder that adding “pussyfoot” to a note indicates that you mean business.

[Image: The New Yorker]