The Atlantic Apologizes For Scientology Advertorial

Screenshot via Eric Wemple.

Screenshot via Eric Wemple.

The Atlantic has issued an apology for the pro-Scientology sponsored content that ran on their site yesterday. The advertorial, which has since been pulled from the Atlantic site, drew Internet criticism.

“David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year,” the headline read. The promotional piece appeared to be an article on the site but for the unabashed pro-Scientology tone and the yellow slug alerting the reader that the post was, indeed, sponsored content.  

“2012 was a milestone year for Scientology, with the religion expanding to more than 10,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, spanning 167 nations — figures that represent a growth rate 20 times that of a decade ago,” the post read. The comments were no less biased.

“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,” The Atlantic posted today. “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.”

The post has sparked a debate–not just at The Atlantic but also over Twitter and the blogosphere–about the nature of sponsored posts.

The Atlantic‘s full apology:

Regarding an advertisement from the Church of Scientology that appeared on TheAtlantic.com on January 14:

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.