A new low: journalism guru, Jim Romenesko – the kind of guy who once would have trashed this kind of thing – runs a sponsored post from the Koch brothers. Update: A reader points out that Romenesko has been posting sponsored content for nearly a year now.
Archives For: Sponsored Content
And then some. On its new app, NYT NOW, there will be nothing but sponsored content supporting it. No actual ads, just corporate propaganda designed to look like the rest of the app:
Paid posts in the news stream will be the only form of ads on The New York Times’ NYT Now app, due to roll out on the App Store on Apr. 2, the company said today… Cartier has signed on as the initial sponsor of NYT Now. Paid Post units and branded content will also begin appearing on the Times’ other mobile apps in the coming months, the Times said… The Times introduced native ad units in January, with Dell, Intel and Goldman Sachs as the initial sponsors. The company hopes native ads will help turn around its declining digital ad revenue, which Times CEO Mark Thompson has pledged to begin growing again in 2014.
In-stream ads in mobile apps are the latest step in this process.
That’s the end, isn’t it? I’m sure the NYT will be better than most in labeling its paid posts, but when the NYT has put its full weight behind blurring the line between editorial and advertizing, what chance that the rest of the industry can resist jumping into the fray? I can’t help but notice that the 100 percent native advertizing on NYT NOW somehow didn’t make it into the NYT’s own story on the changes. I guess I’m not surprised why. The goal of these journalistic enterprises is to keep that kind of thing on the downlow.
A reader elaborates on a recent “Sponsored Content Watch” (a depressingly ongoing feature on the Dish):
What your reader is describing is called a video news release, or VNR. It’s a publicity tactic – basically an advertisement made to look like a news report. In a way, they serve a purpose, as news agencies (especially smaller local stations with limited budgets) can use pieces of them to supplement ongoing reports, the same way newspapers will use information from a press release. The problem with them comes when they’re just aired whole without attribution, as if they’re regular news. Your reader’s note that the segments discussed ended with a “sponsored by” notice is actually an improvement; until about a decade ago, many VNRs aired without any notice at all, such as being produced by a pharmaceutical company or government agency. In 2005, the FCC started cracking down on the practice and said stations could be fined for airing VNRs without attribution, so news programs are a little more cautious about it nowadays (not to say the practice has gone away entirely).
Another points to a more disappointing offender:
Regarding the growth of sponsored content on TV, last month PandoDaily broke the huge story that PBS received $3.5 million from anti-pensions billionaire John Arnold to fund a scare series called “Pension Peril”.
by Chris Bodenner
A reader sees it moving to TV:
With all the discussion about The Atlantic, Buzzfeed and others blurring the line between journalism and sponsored content, I thought this might add to the discussion. Robert Feder is a longtime Chicago media journalist who has moved from his spot at the major papers in town to the blogosphere. This afternoon, he posted this blog post about the disturbing trend of the local Fox affiliate (and to a lesser extent, WGN TV) is airing segments during their news programming that are paid for by companies looking to promote their products. At the end of segments, a brief “this segment was sponsored by [company name]” is all that tips viewers that what they have already watched is not news and should be viewed with a degree of suspicion.
This, to me, is every bit if not more disgusting than the proliferation of sponsored print content, as it is much less obvious than even the best camouflaged sponsored piece on Buzzfeed. Viewers should not have to watch every segment with suspicion that it is a paid piece in case such a revelation is made at the end of a four minute interview. I assume that if it’s happening here, it’s happening elsewhere, and that both chills and repulses me.
by Chris Bodenner
“The honest system of advertising should be but a simple announcement of the offer of goods for the information of those who desire to purchase, in such a manner that they may by seeking find. But in advertising as it now exists, exaggeration is piled on exaggeration, and falsehood is added to falsehood. The world is filled with monstrous lies, and they are thrust upon attention by every possible means. When a man opens his mail in the morning the letter of his friend is buried among these advertising monstrosities. They are thrust under street-doors, and they are offered as you walk the streets. When you read the morning and evening papers, they are spread before you with typographic display; they are placed among the items you desire to read, and they are given false headings, and they begin with decoy paragraphs. … [T]he whole civilized world is placarded with lies, and the moral atmosphere of the world reeks with the foul breath of this monster of antagonistic competition,” – John Wesley Powell, “Competition as a Factor in Human Evolution,” American Anthropologist 1, no. 4 (October 1, 1888): 297–323. Italics mine. Thanks to a reader for flagging. Previous Dish on the early history of sponsored content here.
Jack Shafer reviews Cynthia B. Meyers’ new book, A Word From Our Sponsor: Admen, Advertising, and the Golden Age of Radio, which examines the longstanding entanglement of the media and advertising industries:
In Meyers’ view, advertising is not something appended to radio and TV broadcasts or shimmied into the pages of newspapers and magazines. Advertising has been both the dog wagging the tail and the tail wagging the dog, sometimes occupying points in between, its symbiotic relationship with popular media forever ebbing and cresting. And while the past never predicts the future, this book gives readers a peak around the media future’s corner. …
I’m no media purist. Like Meyers, I appreciate that advertising has never stood outside news creation. Without advertising, the daily newspaper, the news broadcast, the news magazine and news on the Web would scarcely exist. One of the things that has prevented advertisers and their clients from controlling the whole ball of wax in the past has been the sheer capital costs of building out a newspaper — its presses, circulation, ad sales, news collection, etc. But the affordability of Web, which has benefited such new entrants as Gawker, Business Insider, BuzzFeed, Vox and the rest, will also benefit advertisers and their clients. If the advertising industrial complex masters editorial creation in a future media season — becoming such a big dog that it needs no tail to wag — old news hands might come to regard the era in which gobs of sponsored content propped up ailing news properties as “the good old days.”
When even the lefty Guardian is now merged with Unilever, I think it’s already here. Check out this breathless piece of enthusiasm about the merging of journalism and advertizing. And, yes, it was a sponsored post.
“Basic publishing ethics dictate that fake articles be printed in clearly different type fonts and column widths, be enclosed by borderlines and be identified prominently as advertising. By contrast, as native advertising is most often practiced – and as the Federal Trade Commission has very much noticed – publishers allow their advertisers to run content strikingly similar in look and style to the real editorial. The label “advertising” is almost never applied. Instead they use confusing wiggle words like “sponsored content” or, even more obscurely, “from around the web”. The result is not merely deceiving to readers, it bespeaks a conspiracy of deception among publishers, advertisers and their agencies,” – Bob Garfield, at the Guardian, the latest publication to embrace the unethical deception of “native advertizing.”
Garfield also has a good round-up of those outlets who have now embraced whoredom: The Economist. Forbes. The Atlantic. The Huffington Post. The Washington Post. Time Inc. The New York Times, and, most recently, Yahoo.
Rosie Gray has a must-read on how the Ukraine government tried to get pro-Yanukovych op-eds into the US journalist mainstream. The usual suspects pop up. Money quote:
Huston didn’t directly deny being paid by Scoville. “I would not be open to say who pays me and who doesn’t,” he said.
Other writers who were producing incongruous pro-Party of Regions stories at the time include Ben Shapiro of Breitbart and Seton Motley, a conservative blogger. One of Shapiro’s Ukraine posts, “Hillary Sides With Anti-Semitic Ukrainian Opposition,” is nearly identical to a post that appeared four days later in a different publication under Huston’s byline: “Clinton Dept. of State Backing the Anti-Semitism Party in Ukraine?”
Shapiro said he hadn’t been paid by anyone other than his employers to do the posts.
— The Associated Press (@AP) February 18, 2014
From the reader who flagged the tweet:
I can’t tell whether it’s serious, but I can tell that people are seriously pissed:
But the beat will go on … and the press won’t write about it.