People would loose trust in its editorial independence.
It would loose its appeal to industry leaders.
Of much greater significance is that it would be vilified in social media and progressively its reputation would cost its shareholders their fortune just as those who once though banking shares were a smart lost theirs.
Indeed, those who colluded in such a scam would be suspect. Their ethical practice would be called into question and their reputation too will suffer.
Well, there are marketing practices that drag people along this gently inclining slope to the slippery bit and in an era of transparency cannot avoid the finger being pointed:
"Please let me know ASAP if you have a client that might be interested to participate in BusinessWeek's Cloud Computing ad section. This is a "pay-to-play" opportunity ($6,980 entry fee) to appear in a hot section.
"Appearance here will position your client as a leader in the the cloud computing space. BusinessWeek delivers a prime audience of 4.8 million decision-makers, consisting of over 1.8 million senior executives, and 2 million business technology influencers.
"BusinessWeek magazine will publish this section in its April 13, 2009 global print (and online) edition (hits newsstands/goes live April 3). Produced in partnership with the Cloud Slam 09 Virtual Conference Event, this timely section, titled "Cloud Computing: Next-Gen Internet to Power Business," will discuss the business imperatives of cloud computing, i.e. harnessing power, opportunity of on-demand computing, storage, applications, infrastructure, etc.
"If your client were to commit to advertise, we would develop complimentary coverage to appear in the section article (or develop a top quality "advertorial" piece); interview and content development by Internet veteran Vance McCarthy. Exposure includes visibility on www.cloudslam09.com during and after the event, and on www.businessweek.com/adsections providing links to their website (can include video), and high quality reprints. We are also offering Cloud Slam '09 Sponsorships. Further, we can create a very cool, interactive 3D “virtual booth” for your client at a relatively small fee. Uniquely, the booth 'container' is in PDF, so it can be distributed everywhere your client wishes, beyond the event! Lots of value and impact in this package! Another complimentary element here is BusinessWeek's social networking Business Exchange site now taking flight.
There is nothing new in this. It has gone on for years and yet, because it is common practice does not make it right.
So, are we shocked to see circulations of publications in free fall when the words they print are really just advertorials? Well not really. Will anyone regret the going of such publications. Well no, not really.
Feel for the poor pensioner who depends on investment in such shares for a living.