ABMP Comments on AMTA Purchase of Massage Today, Survey

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) recently purchased Massage Today from MPA Media and began publication with the February issue. Massage Today had formerly been an independent voice in the profession since 2001, publishing news and information across the range of organizations involved in massage and bodywork.

The lead article in the February issue promoted a survey AMTA commissioned on its behalf from Zogby Analytics, purporting to compare perceptions of AMTA and ABMP.

What was glaringly absent from the February issue of Massage Today was any acknowledgement that AMTA is now the owner and publisher of that news magazine—no story about the purchase, masthead listing identifying AMTA as the owner, publisher’s note about the purchase, or caveat within the Zogby article describing that the central party to the story was also the owner of the publication. This disclosure failure is a violation of Journalism 101.

“The profession is better served with the presence of an independent voice,” said ABMP President Les Sweeney of the Massage Today purchase. “As of now, the field’s prominent publications­—Massage & Bodywork, Massage Magazine, Massage Therapy Journal, and now Massage Today—are all produced by membership-focused organizations.” Sweeney said ABMP feels it has a duty to inform its members and readers of Massage Today that it can no longer be assumed the publication is printing objective information. “We learned of this purchase when Massage Today refused to publish the news that ABMP had purchased the World Massage Conference continuing education library. AMTA has a right to purchase­—and publish—whatever it chooses; however, we feel that running a self-serving article as its lead without disclosing that it was the new publisher demonstrated a lack of integrity.”

Sweeney continued, “ABMP chooses to continue to serve the profession by continually increasing the value of membership. That’s why we’ve invested in free continuing education (more than 600 courses) for our members; partnerships with resource providers; free email accounts, website, marketing, and client education materials; and of course, Massage & Bodywork—the best trade magazine in the profession for the past 20 years.”

ABMP, an employee-owned company, was established in 1987 on the premise of inclusivity within the profession when others were turning bodyworkers away because they did not meet criteria. Today, ABMP continues to advocate for the profession as a whole and provide unparalleled service and support.



I read the news report in Massage Today, and clicked on the link provided "to read more results."  What jumped out at me was that there was no information in either about the methodology of the study.  Providing this information is part of a competent report on research, as Research Literacy CEUs will often point out.  This is important in many ways, for example:  How exactly did they recruit participants?  What was the response rate?  These are key questions to tell whether the results accurately reflect the average client and practitioner, or a self-selected or even biased sample.  For example, one result was that Being Board Certified was important to overwhelming majorities of adults (87%), but I wonder how many clients know what being Board Certified means.  

I feel that this information should have been disclosed...as Les said, Journalism 101. I also feel, as a teacher of research for massage therapists myself, that research methodology ought to be reported...you should never say "research shows" unless you are giving the details about how that research was collected. Otherwise, as the currently popular phrase goes, it's "fake news." 

I am very happy with ABMP and gratified that I chose this organization over AMTA. Although both organizations offer a wealth of resources to their members, this self aggrandizement by AMTA confirms that I made a good decision.