A Word on Our Bad Reputation

Yesterday The Atlantic ran an advertorial on Scientology. It caused a small scrum (as it should have) on Twitter. Last night the advertorial was taken down. Here is the company's statement on the matter:


We screwed up. It shouldn't have taken a wave of constructive criticism -- but it has -- to alert us that we've made a mistake, possibly several mistakes. We now realize that as we explored new forms of digital advertising, we failed to update the policies that must govern the decisions we make along the way. It's safe to say that we are thinking a lot more about these policies after running this ad than we did beforehand. In the meantime, we have decided to withdraw the ad until we figure all of this out. We remain committed to and enthusiastic about innovation in digital advertising, but acknowledge--sheepishly--that we got ahead of ourselves. We are sorry, and we're working very hard to put things right.

I think what made this episode particularly ill-considered was the fact that Lawrence Wright's reporting (some of it done for the New Yorker) on Scientology was about to be released in book form. With that said, I fully agree with this statement. I think the fact this troubled so many people is actually evidence of The Atlantic's brand strength. And I think the swift and candid response is evidence of how much we treasure the name.

People screw up. I think that's fairly natural. But I also think it's important to respond honestly and directly when you are confronted with your screw-up.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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