I was putting the finishing touches on this month’s editorial when I received an email from a reader who owns a company that serves the power industry. He was very complimentary of an article I recently wrote. "Goes without saying," I was thinking to myself. However, actually saying it goes a long way in my book, and I enjoy hearing from readers — at least most of the time.

Wide-Ranging Reader Responses

I especially appreciate readers who take the time to send me an email about something they learned from reading POWER that helped solve a nagging problem, or about some new insight into the future of the power industry they gained. I also enjoy the sometimes spirited interactions with readers (although the periodic death threats less so). Even messages identifying an error (thankfully, few) or offering the reader’s unique opinions of the power industry are always read and enjoyed. I’ve even had readers ask me to retract an editorial I wrote, although it’s a mystery how I go about disavowing an opinion I still hold. I also freely admit that many of the most critical letters often plant the seeds for future POWER articles.

"First among such ideals is independence… to have no other guides for its opinions and policies but truth and the sound interests of the field it serves."

The second half of this particular reader’s email included a question that I’ve never been asked before: "How much did it cost company X to have that article published in POWER?"

My first reaction to the question isn’t fit to print. The implication is that the POWER editors run a monthly auction for editorial space in the magazine and that the high bidders will find their articles in the next issue. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yet, this inquiry, made in all seriousness, indicates to me that we haven’t done a very good job of explaining our editorial rules of the road.

Integrity and Independence

POWER, now in its 127th year of continuous publication, remains the longest-running industry magazine in the U.S., and perhaps the world. From its early issues, POWER’s stated editorial policy was one of integrity and independence. In 1924, James H. McGraw, then president of the McGraw-Hill Co., unambiguously stated his editorial expectations for this magazine: "Industrial and technical journals must be something more than publications run solely for profit. They must, if they are to fill their legitimate place, have their own ideals… and adhere unflinchingly to them. First among such ideals is independence… to have no other guides for its opinions and policies but truth and the sound interests of the field it serves."

We serve the power industry by publishing a mixture of industry-contributed and staff-researched and -written articles each month. Contributed articles undergo a rigorous review process followed by multiple rounds of editing to ensure that they meet our very high quality standards for content and readability. I filter out the majority of article proposals submitted because they’re either a weak case study, they don’t present validated results, or there isn’t a member of the power plant staff willing to go on the record verifying the results.

The good news is that you don’t have to be a professional writer to have your article selected for publication. If you have the bones of a good story, we’ll help you put the meat on those bones, even if it means a staff editor must visit your plant and write the entire article for you (though it has to be a really fresh and meaty story to merit the time and resources to go that far). My sole interest is publishing the best possible collection of articles each month. (For more information on submitting a story or a story idea, download our editorial guidelines from the About Us page. You’ll find the About Us link at the bottom of the powermag.com home page.)

The Great Divide

Finally, we believe that quality journalism requires a wide separation between those who sell and those who write. I have had the privilege of being POWER’s editor-in-chief for more than six years, and I’m only the ninth to hold that position since the magazine’s inception. I’m proud to say that I have never been asked to compromise my journalistic integrity by publishing an article in return for advertising or any other form of revenue. The entire sales and editorial staff remains committed to conducting our business in conformance with this bedrock principal. Unfortunately, "pay to play" is a common practice elsewhere in this industry.

I believe the secret to the success of POWER over the years is the magazine’s entire staff remaining true to these principals and practices. Without our editorial integrity and independent coverage of the industry, we would not enjoy the trust and respect of the industry, as we have for 127 years. The editorial content of POWER, and that of its sister publications, is not for sale at any price.

—Dr. Robert Peltier, PE, Editor-in-Chief