Life if tough all over. Especially for those in the biz formerly known as newspaper publishing. Under pressure to keep the doors open, even the Grey Lady herself is selling content like a hooker on a street corner.
The debate over sponsored content isn’t new. And so long as paid editorial content is clearly labeled, maybe I shouldn’t care. But I do. Because once the wall between advertising and journalism is breached, there’s no going back.
It was this sponsored story from the Northeast Ohio Media Group, aka, the Plain Dealer, that has me wondering how many readers accept these sponsored items as legitimate news. BTW, this story — first published on October 20, 2014 — appeared under yesterday’s “Latest Stories” heading. It was the only sponsored story on the list.
The story appears to be accurate and carries value for readers concerned with college tuition costs. But it isn’t breaking news, but rather a repackaging of an NPR story that aired months ago. Yes, the item does carry (in fairly small type) the “sponsored content” label. But it’s a label that’s easy to miss and one that does NOT identify the paid sponsor.
On the other hand, it’s a damn good marketing ploy by the local community college, as it trades on the urgency and the credibility of NEOMG’s news operation. But it also taints the credibility of that news operation. And it has me wondering why communicators have to be so sneaky.
Yeah. I’ve been away from the blog for a spell. I’ll tell you about it sometime.