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Posted on October 11, 2016
Today the Tallahassee Democrat took another step away from journalism and moved closer to becoming a public relations firm.
The Tallahassee Democrat published a story entitled “Sponsor story: Amendment 1 would preserve rights, protect consumers.”
The story appears to be the Tallahassee Democrat’s first effort at making money off of articles that look like news but are really paid commercials. The subject matter of this effort is the controversial battle between two solar amendments. The article published in the Democrat is advocating for Amendment 1 and is being financed by private utilities.
It did not take long for readers to let their opinions be known about the “looks like news” approach in the comments section.
A disgustingly misleading con job, a paid advertisement no less, made to look like an article published by the newspaper. It is indicative of the rank dishonesty of the Koch-backed Amendment 1 gaggle, a bunch of paid for hacks and liars. Shameful.
Sad to see the Democrat attempting to present propaganda as news in this jarring sponsor story format.
The Tallahassee Democrat will take money to throw itself under the bus. This is truly pitiful. Sure hope the TV news people get wind of this story. TD editors should be ashamed!!!
William Hatfield and Skip Foster, what in the hell are you thinking here?
Tallahassee Democrat had been a paid shill for politicians for many years now. I can personally attest that this dates back to 2001, but I doubt it started then. Fortunately, there are other options for local news.
Fish wrapper be damned.
Why don’t you just call it an ad?
Sponsored content has been around for a few years and is most notably published in magazines.
Jack Shafer, a Reuters columnist covering the press and politics, wrote about a sponsored content controversy with The Atlantic in 2013.
You can smell the desperation when nosing about in sponsored content. Publishers know that banner advertising doesn’t work for their clients — as the Journal notes, banner-ads’ share of Web advertising is shrinking — and they must devise new advertising forms to attract ad revenue.
But as The Atlantic[r3] learned in January after running a Scientology ad that looked too much like regular Atlantic fare, sponsored pages carry a potential downside that’s greater than traditional “proximity advertising.” Proximity ads place commercial messages next to editorial copy, but they’re boxed and printed in such a fashion (non-editorial typefaces, for example) to reduce the chance that readers will confuse ads with news. It’s equally important to advertising-supported journalism that the news not be confused with the ads that run nearby, a point Benjamin Franklin made in his advertising manifesto in his 1731 “Apology for Printers.” Franklin held — and most publishers continue to hold — that the controversy raised in news stories is 1) desirable, 2) should not be held against advertisers and 3) that the content of advertisement should not automatically be held against the newspaper publishing them.
When Web publishers deliberately blur the visual and textual divide that separates editorial from advertising, as The Atlantic did, they force readers to judge whether a page is news/opinion or a commercial advertisement. But they’re not confused; it’s the publisher and the advertiser who are confused. The publishers and advertisers have polluted their own tradition by erasing the traditional line. Suddenly, it’s completely reasonable for readers to blame controversial news stories directly on advertisers and blame controversial advertisements directly on reporters and editors, because publishers and advertisers have essentially merged operations. Such calamities injure both publisher and advertiser, even already controversial advertisers like Scientology. (In The Atlantic‘s defense, it should be noted that it ultimately conceded that it “screwed up” the presentation of its advertisers message and promised to do better in the future.)
Will the Tallahassee Democrat continue this approach to news or will reader criticism result in a change?