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4Word Editorial - The Reality Of It All

Posted in Features on December 1, 2007
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I'd like to say that I'm a fair and honest guy whose personal opinions and professional integrity are not swayed by money or politics. I have set my life's flight plan and am heading where I feel most comfortable: right under the radar. I try to live life as stress-free as possible, because in this profession there are hundreds of things that can cause problems. The issues I try to avoid at all cost are the repercussions brought on by the unethical review of products, a practice my staff and I refuse to take part in. We try and give you our fair and honest opinions not based on anything other than our experiences with the products.

You might be asking yourself why I'm bringing this up. Well, lately I have encountered people who are disenchanted with the magazine industry and magazines themselves. Much of their disenchantment seems to arise from a perception that an editor writing a product review is motivated solely by advertising revenue, and consequently the readers aren't being told the truth. I can honestly say the comments I've heard weren't directed at the editorial content of 4 WHEEL DRIVE & SPORT UTILITY MAGAZINE; however, I can see the unspoken questions in people's eyes.

Some may say that as editors we are all bought and paid for by advertising dollars. I can understand why some may say this, because I've witnessed forced editorial. This problem is nothing new: It's been around since publishing and advertising came together. So far, I've been able to avoid such undesirable arrangements, and hopefully I can do so for the rest of my journalistic career.

Here is my stance on the matter: There's nothing wrong with writing a review of a quality product, even if said product comes from an advertiser. I consider some of 4WD&SU's advertisers close, personal friends, and I have a good relationship with the majority of them. But as editors I feel we must maintain a tradition of journalistic integrity and not be swayed by these relationships. Will I write a rave review about a product just because the manufacturer is my friend or because they spend a boatload of money on advertising? Simply put: NO.

In all honesty I can tell you that not one advertiser has ever approached me and offered to advertise with us in exchange for favorable reviews - we just don't play that way. Now, I have had companies advertise after the fact as a result of having written a review. It's not because they have paid me or the company off - it's because they received a good response from a great magazine.

So in a nutshell, the staff and I will only write reviews of products that we feel are worth telling you about. There are no motivations behind our reviews other than that we like the products, think you would be interested in them, or that you could use them. Myself, Christian Lee, and Jordan May will always be up-front and honest with you. We might test the world's greatest product but if it has one small flaw - don't worry - we'll point it out. Just the same, if we find a problem down the road, we'll follow up and tell you about it.

Obviously, this magazine is a business, and we aren't here to go bankrupt: We all have to make a living. But we still take pride in truthful journalism and in making that living an honest one.

Thank you for reading.Happy Trails,


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