The Atlantic took down a paid Scientology advertorial after the stunned reaction the article generated on Twitter and several media websites.
The Atlantic is a venerated magazine (founded in 1857!) which has been celebrated for the way it has made use of the Internet probably better than any highbrow publication, its Atlantic Wire getting high marks for originality and innovation.
But taking paid puff pieces from Scientology? This innovation is resulting in a big backlash.
If you're unfamiliar with how magazines and newspapers work, we can tell you that Atlantic Wire editors may not have known that this piece -- which at first glance appeared to be a normal article on the website -- was coming. As "sponsored content," the publication of this Scientology-written article would have been worked out with The Atlantic's sales side, without editorial input.
In these economic times, print publications and their websites are pretty desperate for any form of revenue. But even if this sponsored ad was held at arm's length from the Atlantic's editorial purview, the magazine still risks harming its hard-won reputation by getting into bed with such a controversial group as Scientology.
It was also clear that comments at the story were being strictly controlled. Only a few comments which express only the vaguest criticism were allowed through, and the rest are glowing shills that are obviously coming from the church.
For the rest of this story, including an analysis of the claims made by Scientology in the advertorial, please go to tonyortega.org