Best of Philly Is Not for Sale

As our 38th annual issue hits the stands, let me clear up a big misconception

I saw it again a few weeks ago—another one of those snarky comments that pop up on our website. This one was about our July cover story on the top pizza places in Philadelphia, and the commenter had dismissively tossed out the kind of criticism we’ve seen before: Oh, don’t pay attention to this list. It’s just a bunch of Philly Mag advertisers.

To which I’d like to reply: Please shut up, sir. Because you are an ignorant imbecile.

I know. I should be more respectful of our readers, and 99 percent of the time–even with people who rudely and crudely disagree with us–I swear I am. But I lose my patience when commenters repeat a statement that has zero basis in fact. The truth: Buying an ad in our magazine gets you exactly that–an ad in our magazine. It doesn’t get you included in our best pizza package. It doesn’t get you named one of Philly’s 50 best restaurants. It doesn’t get you any editorial coverage at all.

I mention this because similar snarky comments will undoubtedly be thrown around again this week as we roll out the 38th annual Best of Philly—our yearly recognition of all that we think is excellent in our city and region (this year, perhaps because we’re feeling a little cranky, we’ve also brought back Worst of Philly, which recognizes excellence in crappiness). The notion that there is some sort of pay-to-play involved with Best of Philly has been out there for some time, and generally our attitude has been to ignore the murmuring. But one of the things Americans have learned in the last several years is that the Internet can fan the flames of even the most absurd rumors—yes, I’m talking to you, birthers—and so I’m here to officially stamp the rumor out. Best of Philly is not for sale. Nor is any part of our editorial coverage.

The truth about Best of Philly is this: It represents the extraordinary hard work of our editorial staff, who spend a good chunk of the year eating, shopping, testing and turning over rocks in search of what’s great in Philadelphia. Every single choice in our package is made by the editorial staff and by the editorial staff alone, and we are just arrogant enough to think there’s no one better for the job. The folks who sell advertising for this magazine? They’re lovely people and I enjoy working with them, but they and their clients have absolutely zero impact on our choices. A few years ago one of our sales reps mentioned to me that a client of hers had purchased advertising with us, hoping it might score them a Best of Philly honor. When the August issue came out we awarded the Best of Philly prize to … their direct competitor. The client canceled the ad contract. I felt bad for the sales rep—she works on commission—but to her credit she and everyone who works here understands how our process works.

And at the end of the day that process isn’t really about us, the editors; it’s about you, the readers. Without you trusting what we say and our reasons for saying it, we wouldn’t have a magazine or website worth reading (or, come to think of it, advertising in).

This year’s Best of Philly issue will hit newsstands at the end of the week. To get the fun started a little early we’ll give you some teases here on the web site all week long. First up: our selections for People and Power categories.

So read Best of Philly 2011. If you disagree with us, call all us crazy. Call us uninformed. Call us ignorant imbeciles, if you’d like. Just don’t call us whores.