Desktop Engineering charges CAD vendors $3,995 (see update below) to be featured as their "DE Pick of the Week." Well, that's the list price; in these economic times, deals abound.
Whatever the amount, the CAD vendor get a press release issued by Desktop Engineering, whose staff copies'n pastes the vendor's name into a template, "...Selected Editor's Pick of the Week by Desktop Engineering," and then blasts it out by email.
Neither the press releases nor articles state that the editorial endorsements are paid for by vendors, and so do not constitute the independent opinions of the magazine's editorial staff.
In the publishing business, this is known as "advertorial," where seemingly-independent editorial writing is paid for by vendors. User-oriented magazines don't run advertorials; semi-honest ones include a header stating that the editorial is paid-for advertising.
(Another industry term is "pay for play," where a vendor will not even get a hearing from the "journalist" or analyst, unless that cheque is passed across the table first. I've heard of amounts as high as $10,000. Makes my offer to vendors to purchase reprint rights for $250 seem like children's toy money.)
In addition to Desktop Engineering, another magazine that makes extensive use of vendor-written articles is the German-language AutoCAD Magazin. During my last year with CADalyst magazine (1990), the publisher ensured that advertorials made up the bulk of the December issue -- much to the disgust of us in editorial.
The problem with these magazines keeping their vendor-driven editorial secret is that it besmirches all publications, including user-oriented ones like upFront.eZine and WorldCAD Access.
At www.deskeng.com/pick-of-the-week you can view the list of vendors who ponied up the $4,900. Is this what Mr Lockwood means when he ends his articles with "Thanks, pal"?
In the end, my rant won't matter, because most readers don't care, and neither do vendor-oriented magazine publishers.
An editor from England reports:
Apparently, in the UK at least, what DE do is illegal. Very illegal indeed. I knew it was ethically wrong, I didn't know the law courts agreed.
CAD vendors are telling me that the price charged by DE varies, such as $3500 or $3995 or even free.