If you pick up or see this week's issue in print you will probably notice what appears to be a cover featuring Zack Reed and an endorsement of his mayoral campaign. While it is, technically, the cover of the magazine in a physical sense, it’s actually a paid advertisement. The “advertisement” label up top and the name of the organization that purchased it at the bottom of the page make that (sort of) clear. It’s a “cover wrap,” in industry parlance. The actual cover is a photo from this week’s dynamite feature on Cleveland’s hip-hop ecosystem.
is a business and we depend on advertising to survive. Cover wraps are one of the advertising options offered by the sales department. They have long been strenuously opposed by the editorial staff. The cover, we feel, is a sacrosanct space. It’s the first thing a reader sees; it tells you what we think is the most important or interesting thing you’ll find inside, and it sometimes stands alone as a singular editorial statement.
While we’re against all cover wraps, the politically oriented ones are the most editorially dangerous. In the past, these have included ads for Ken Lanci, in 2013
, and Jack Schron, in 2014. Though the ads indicate that they are paid for, the indications are small and easy to miss. That’s by design. The whole point is giving readers like you the impression that Scene
has endorsed the pictured candidate. We have been criticized for these decisions in the local and national press.
This week’s cover wrap featuring Zack Reed was accepted and printed in the face of vocal opposition from the editorial staff. Management listened to our concerns and, as they’re entitled to do, opted to run it anyway.
The mayoral election on Nov. 7 is a crucial one for the city of Cleveland. Through 2017, we’ve tried to cover the race in ways that other outlets in town have not, focusing considerable attention on challengers (even longshots) with the aim of increased civic participation. We did not endorse a candidate in the primary, and we are not endorsing either candidate in the general election. Scene
, in fact, does not publish political endorsements of any kind. Our reporting has, however, led us to conclusions that we haven’t been shy about voicing, particularly with articles critical of Frank Jackson. We trust that you understand that those conclusions were not and would never be influenced or purchased by an outside entity. This week’s cover wrap creates that appearance, though, and in the interest of transparency, we wanted to address the issue directly.
’s editorial staff