The Buck Comes First

The Buck Comes First

The media business operates with a pair of avowed purposes—to provide a public service and to make money. As a result, mixed messages are typical.

America’s three major newsweeklies, for instance, have published occasional articles critical of the tobacco habit. Yet most of their back covers in 1989 were advertisements for cigarettes. Despite the reassuring myth that ads don’t affect news content, neither Time nor Newsweek nor U.S. News & World Report has gone on any crusades against cigarette smoking. The massive ad budgets of R.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris, and other tobacco sellers indicate why a cigarette industry with an annual death toll of 390,000 Americans doesn’t get more bad press.

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