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Where the Caribou Roam
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Defending the Forest, and Other Crimes
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Sierra Magazine
Inside Sierra: Accounting for Ads

by Joan Hamilton, Editor-in-Chief

At most magazines, about half the pages are devoted to editorial material and half to advertising. Visual clues separate the commercial from the editorial, allowing readers to flip pages freely to read whatever they like. Revenue from the ads keeps subscription and newsstand prices low and, in commercial ventures, provides the profit.

Advertising is also important to Sierra. Most of our editorial pages are financed by ad revenue, enabling the Sierra Club to keep members well informed at minimal cost and to spend more on other conservation work. Each page of advertising pays the manufacturing, paper, and printing costs for itself plus a page of editorial. Some pages are paid for by grants as well, enabling us to publish 60 percent editorial content.

We're more selective than most other magazines about which advertisements run in our pages. In addition to rejecting cigarette ads (as many publications do) Sierra nixes ads that directly conflict with Sierra Club policies. You won't see advertisements touting Shell Oil (a company the Sierra Club is boycotting) or cars driving off-road in the backcountry in our pages. We run most product ads submitted, but we hardly ever accept a corporate image ad, because most of the latter come to us from polluting companies trying to mislead the public about their environmental record. These ads run in other reputable magazines, even environmental ones, but we take a small stand against greenwashing (and a big hit to our budget) by refusing to accept them.

We hope that our ads have led you to useful products and services. When readers write to protest one they don't like, we explain that the ads that make it through our screens and onto our pages do not represent alliances or endorsements. They are business arrangements, with no editorial strings attached.

Word has gotten around that Sierra takes bold stands on environmental issues. Advertisers who don't like that aspect of our personality have long since left. Those who remain are aiding our efforts to speak out, search for solutions, celebrate nature, and encourage conservation in more than half a million households. We're grateful for their support.

In Memoriam

Sierra author T. H. Watkins died of cancer in February. Editor of the Wilderness Society's magazine for many years, Watkins also wrote more than 20 books about U.S. history and the environment. Only last fall, he was making plans to write an article for us on author Wallace Stegner. Crossing that item off our editorial calendar reminded us just how much we'll miss Watkins' quiet environmental leadership, his fine writing, and his friendship.

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