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The Atlantic's Scientology Advertorial 213

magic maverick writes "The Atlantic recently ran an 'advertorial' for the 'Church of Scientology'. During this time, they filtered comments and removed negative comments. While they have since apologized, has an interesting run down of what they did wrong, from both a moral and business perspective." It turns out these sponsored stories are commonplace, and a serious source of revenue: "Native ads are critical to The Atlantic’s livelihood. They are one element of digital advertising revenue, which in 2012 accounted for a striking 59 percent of the brand’s overall advertising revenue haul. Unclear just how much of the digital advertising revenue stems from sponsor content. We’re working on that."
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The Atlantic's Scientology Advertorial

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  • by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:04PM (#42605279)

    The only question here is "Which one is the dog?"

    Is it the Church of Scientology--whose batshit-crazy cult bullshit, strongarm tactics, litigious bullying, etc. are quite well-known by now? Is it these poor souls, who have fallen so far out of favor in recent years that they're losing members even in their traditional gullible himbo/bimbo bastion of Hollywood?

    Or is it the Atlantic, who gave up any pretense of integrity long ago, and whore themselves out like a $5 hooker to any advertiser still dumb enough to think that anyone under the age of ancient still reads The Atlantic? Is it these poor souls, who still bother to publish a magazine that hasn't been relevant since The Great War?

    I think a better analogy might be two dying dogs, lying down together in a last feeble attempt to fend off the cold.

  • Principals (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:09PM (#42605365)

    High Brow Magazine abandons principals in pursuit of the almighty dollar, news at 11.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:12PM (#42605387)

    Poor souls? At least a prostitute provides a valuable service, unlike that cult.

  • by John3 ( 85454 ) <`moc.sllenroc' `ta' `3nhoj'> on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:12PM (#42605395) Homepage Journal

    The Onion skewered the "sponsored content" [] concept nicely yesterday. Even sponsored content needs to meet editorial standards, maybe even more so since you are accepting compensation for allowing them to use your brand name to promote theirs.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:18PM (#42605495)

    Matters of degree are a big deal though.

    The question is where to draw that line, at any shilling or for bad enough product. Slashdot seems to have chosen the latter, the Atlantic seems to want to get rid of the line altogether.

  • by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:27PM (#42605633) Homepage

    Not a good analogy, because one may feel pity for two dying dogs.

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:35PM (#42605751) Homepage Journal
    You know what the most serious source of revenue for a publication is? Readership.

    Piss off your readers, they'll go somewhere else for news.

    If your readers go somewhere else, so will your advertisers.

    If The Atlantic takes a major fiscal hit over this (which I certainly hope they do), they've got no one to blame but themselves.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:40PM (#42605821) Homepage

    Well, they've managed to demonstrate that Tom Cruise is an insufferable idiot.

    That counts for something.

  • by cfulton ( 543949 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:43PM (#42605863)
    When was it that America tried to enforce justice?
    Starting with slavery and moving on to the railroad monopolies, tammany hall, the Chicago political machine, union busting in the 1930's, the company towns of the coal mines, separate but equal and on and on and on. We do try in fits and starts to fix these things, but always the rich and privileged find ways to give themselves privileges and immunity that the average Joe is not entitled to. It is not just American history but world history that teaches us this. So, maybe we should stop being sad about a time that didn't exist and do something about it. Whether we vote with our money or in the ballot box or through protest it is up to us to change things and looking back on a better time that did not really exist will not get it done.
  • by YodasEvilTwin ( 2014446 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:44PM (#42605873) Homepage
    He's a good actor. Watch his movies if you like them, stop giving a shit about his personal life. The world would be a much better place if no one was obsessed with random people the see on screen on hear singing.
  • I'm not going to support people who, as part of their personal lie, take action and make up lies that harm others. I don't care how fucking good his movie may, or may not, be.

  • by roccomaglio ( 520780 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:50PM (#42605963)
    Our media is constantly showing their biases. I would not be surprised if someone at the Atlantic was a devote Scientologist. Just this week CBS told CNET that they could not give a best in show to Dish's SlingBox. It is up to you the consumer of media to decide what is accurate or not. Fox News sometimes reports on things that other media chooses not to cover. They also choose to give a voice to some people that other media chooses to ignore. I read a large variety of sources and then use my own judgement as to what is believable or not.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:53PM (#42606003)

    Really? Aliens? That can only be detected with your voodoo device? Is that the best he could come up with?

    That it worked so well and suckered so many ... that may have been his point.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @01:55PM (#42606029)

    There's nothing dishonest or dishonorable about being a hooker. And prostitution should not be disreputable.

    I cannot say the same for Scientology.

  • by Admiral Valdemar ( 2553412 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @02:01PM (#42606123)
    The problem with that is, somewhere, you are supporting someone of equal or greater drain on society. It's hard to be fully ethical about things 100% of the time, so while not supporting a film actor is one thing, you could be supporting Big Oil or an eeevil tech firm doing far worse. That said, the sooner this cult dies, the better.
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @02:05PM (#42606199) Journal

    Plan 9 From Outer Space and This Island Earth are gloriously bad, campy and unintentionally funny films. Battlefield Earth was pretty much unwatchable. It was the film equivalent of a guy so bad you wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire. It's so awful it isn't even worthy of MST3K treatment.

    I remember my wife and I rented it, and while I knew perfectly well who Hubbard was, was willing to view the movie on its own merits. After about 20 minutes, we gladly turned it off. A few years later it was on cable so I decided to give it another go. After the first scene with Forest Whitaker and John Travolta I changed the channel.

    The Human Centipede 2 is a work of art compared to Battlefield Earth.

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @04:57PM (#42608497)

    It worked.

    It takes a selectively blind person to WANT religion, but that sort of person is incapable of critical thinking on that specific subject however brillian or stupid they might otherwise be. Hit the sweet spot and they'll be your bitch.

  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @05:20PM (#42608819) Homepage

    This is a really stupid rhetorical question, but it's a pretty good actual question. In case someone comes along who is interested in answers:

    * Coercing members to have abortions so they won't waste money raising kids; instead, the money can go to the organization.
    * Complete ban on mental health care.
    * Major and sustained efforts to undermine health care for other people too, as part of their general war on anything related to psychiatry.
    * Systematic destruction of family relationships and friendships which in any way endanger someone's loyalty to the organization.
    * Systematic attacks on critics, including anyone who says anything just a bit negative.
    * Various lawsuits, legal hassles, and so on; they use these to get things like preferential tax treatment (they get better tax breaks than any religion does).
    * According to their founder, they are in fact not a religion at all, and are in no way religious; they adopted the "religion" thing only for legal benefits, while not actually being a religious organization in any way.
    * Paulette Cooper and "operation Freakout", in which they forged bomb threats from someone who'd said things they didn't like.
    * Lisa McPherson, who was tied to a bed and denied any sort of care until she was nearly-dead, then dropped off at a hospital (where she died because she was already too far gone), on the grounds that she had been thinking about seeking medical care. Anything where your autopsy reveals "cockroach feeding sites" should not be considered a viable medical treatment.

    Christians can be really annoying (trust me on this; I am one, I should know), but the vast, vast, majority of them do not have a policy that says that they are obliged to take any and all possible measures to prevent me from disagreeing with them or telling other people I think they're wrong. Yes, some of the specific organizations have, over the last couple thousand years, gotten way out of line. But it's never been the official policy of the entire thing. The "Fair Game" policy is a whole new category compared to the policies that religions generally have.

    In short, they are on the lunatic fringe compared even to the lunatic fringes of the world's religions. (And I don't say "any other religion" because L. Ron Hubbard said Scientology was not a religion, and he's presumably authoritative.)

    When the Catholic Church tells its members to absolutely cut off all communciation with anyone who badmouths them, at all, ever, then we can talk about how Scientology is in any way similar to religions. Without that, you're just demonstrating severe ignorance of what it is that people dislike about Scientology.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (9) Dammit, little-endian systems *are* more consistent!