Last night The Atlantic posted a sponsored article on Scientology titled “David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year.” It was exactly what it sounds like — an celebratory ad for Scientology, complete with overwhelmingly positive comments from readers.
The article was also formatted exactly like any other Atlantic piece — save “sponsor content” written at the top — so people started questioning the ethics of it. And just as soon as people started criticizing the article, the Atlantic yanked the piece (here is a Google cache version of it).
As Poynter notes, Jay Lauf, publisher of The Atlantic, recently spoke in a positive way about sponsored content. “A lot of people worry about crossing editorial and advertising lines, but I think it respects readers more… It’s saying, ‘You know what you’re interested in.’ It’s more respectful of the reader that way.”