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Asimov's Science Fiction Analog Science Fiction & Fact
February 18th 2004
Our response to the sensationalized and highly inaccurate news report broadcast by WOOD TV's 24 Hour News 8 on February 12, 2004, stating that Asimov's is full of "stories about sex, drugs, and molestation."

The editorial offices of Asimov’s Science Fiction were contacted two weeks ago by a parent whose child had ordered the magazine through QSP, an agent that sells subscriptions through school fundraising drives. This parent then contacted her local 24-hour news station in Michigan, WOOD TV 24 Hour News 8, which proceeded to run a story last Thursday that was full of distortions, misrepresentations, and omissions. We would like to set the record straight.

When reporter Kristi Andersen called our business offices, our Associate Publisher, Chris Begley, provided her with verifiable documentation that directly contradicts the information provided in her broadcast and print reports. While Ms. Andersen said that she would let us know when the story was going to run and provide us with a way to see it, she never did provide this information.

Reporter Kristi Andersen and the News 8 anchors portrayed the QSP magazine drive as children buying and selling magazines. As a matter of fact, in this fundraising drive, students sell magazines to their family, their neighbors, and their parents’ coworkers. We reviewed the QSP catalog with the reporter and showed her that many of the magazines are for adults, including Esquire, Vogue, GQ, and Elle. As we showed the reporter, the QSP catalog has a section specifically geared to children, and indicates age-appropriate titles. Asimov’s was correctly listed in the catalog, not under "Children," but under "Science/Technology/Environmental." The reporter chose not to include this information in her report, and, in fact, said that we "did not know it was on the school magazine list."

In Ms. Andersen’s report, she stated that QSP dropped Asimov’s as a result of the parent’s complaint and News 8’s subsequent investigation, saying the "magazine has now been pulled from the list," and that "since 24 News 8 started this investigation, QSP has permanently severed its relationship" with Asimov's. In fact, we provided Ms. Andersen with documentation showing that our relationship with QSP ended several months earlier over remit rates (the amount of money the publisher receives from the agent for each subscription the agent sells), not as a result of this incident.

Reporter Kristi Andersen and the News 8 anchors portrayed Asimov’s as a pornographic magazine. They characterized it as "full of sexual content," "an adults-only magazine," and said that it "contained stories about sex, drugs, and molestation." Probably because it doesn’t fit with their one-sided characterization, they did not mention that Asimov’s is a highly respected literary magazine. Its stories have won numerous awards, including at least 40 Hugo awards and 24 Nebula awards. The magazine’s editors have received 17 Hugo awards for Best Editor. Since it was first published in 1977, Asimov's has carried stories by the leading authors in science fiction, including Joan Aiken, Brian W. Aldiss, Isaac Asimov, Gregory Benford, Pat Cadigan, Orson Scott Card, Greg Egan, Harlan Ellison, Karen Joy Fowler, William Gibson, Joe Haldeman, Janet Kagan, James Patrick Kelly, Nancy Kress, Ursula K. Le Guin, Jack McDevitt, Frederik Pohl, Mary Rosenblum, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Lucius Shepard, Robert Silverberg, Brian Stableford, Bruce Sterling, Michael Swanwick, Harry Turtledove, Kate Wilhelm, Jack Williamson, Connie Willis, and Gene Wolfe. Asimov's consistently provides its readers with quality, thought-provoking fiction.

News 8 should have allowed Asimov’s Science Fiction the opportunity to respond to their characterization of our magazine, and our disappointment in their distortion of the facts is profound. In our opinion, Ms. Andersen and the News 8 channel are not practicing journalism, but sensationalism. They know, better than most, that "sex sells."

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