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Advertisements pretending to be news

Written By: - Date published: 9:45 am, January 13th, 2015 - 25 comments
Categories: journalism, Media, newspapers - Tags: , ,

Advertorials” are content that is written by some external organisation and inserted into a media publication in such a way that it looks like content, not an obvious ad. The practice is on the rise in news papers, magazines, and TV. A perfectly natural and profitable practice says big business! No – I’m with those that are worried. This is a corruption of the media’s role – to educate and inform. (If the claims here are true then everyone should be worried!)

No surprises to find that The Herald is sliding in to these muddy waters. A friend yesterday pointed out the “Brand Insight” section on the front page of the (online) Herald (how long has this been going on?):

brand-insight

Brand Insight is advertorial content. The top feature at time of writing is “Sky City: Convention Centre vital for NZ” which is, of course, hard sell for the convention centre rort. There is a banner at the top of the page that includes “Paid content in conjunction with SkyCity” – but who is going to see it and realise the implications?

To add insult to injury, the “What is this” popup text explaining “Brand Insight” in the banner, and on the front page, is simply risable:

brand-insight-text

That’s right punters, Brand Insight isn’t paid content written to push someone’s agenda, rather it “connects readers directly to the leadership thinking of many prominent companies and organisations”. Well please – could this be any more dishonest and misleading?

The Herald is trying to make a profit, and times are hard, no surprises if they are getting a bit desperate. But cash for content (Cameron Slater tactics) is not the way to. We need our media to be better than that.

25 comments on “Advertisements pretending to be news”

  1. adam 1

    But our media have never been better than that. The Herald who lead the charge for the Waikato war. The Herald who was knee deep in the muck, with dirty politics. It’s not our media – stop thinking it ever was – it is, and has always been the media of business, for business, and by business.

    It’s why the left had their own media. It does no good to try and reform what can’t be redeemed. Or moan about how unfair it is. Sorry, but the deck is stacked, and they own all the game pieces.

    It’s why all the good lefty’s create their own media – and engage with the public. Please lets not let this be another year we moan about the media. Instead lets do something about it.

    That said, Anthony, great piece on how content is now brought and paid for by corporations with an agenda. And the use of grammar to confuse and misled the public.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      +1

      It’s why all the good lefty’s create their own media – and engage with the public.

      If we were good lefties we’d be chipping in a dollar or so a week into a single fund which would then be used to support a couple of good journalists and support staff to write and publish said media.

  2. Te Reo Putake 2

    It’s not new, Anthony. I recall a press release about a new commercial building in Queen St going into the NZH news pages in about 1985/6. They got called on it and had to print a correction or acknowlegment a day or two later. Laissez faire isn’t just an economic mindset, it affects the thinking of the media too.

    However, the line between professional reporting standards and what passes for news information these days is increasingly blurred. With only the bare minimum of trained professionals on the staff, the media have become reliant on freelancers, PR merchants, bloggers and citizen media to fill the pages and bulletins.

    Another aspect of this problem is the failure to distinguish between opinion and fact. And I don’t just mean it’s a problem in the news room. Consumers of media are equally guilty of not being able to tell the difference or even of understanding why the difference is important.

  3. RedLogix 3

    Maybe cash for content is the only way the media will survive. Certainly they have looked at Slater’s model with some interest and a little envy.

    • Wonderpup 3.1

      The news is there to carry the advertising – that’s the first lesson any journalist learns. The front page of the first edition of the Times was classified ads. There is nothing sinister about this – ads are information in their own right, and its good to know when you can shop at Briscoes. The sinister part is when the advertising and the news gets elided – as in the article above.

  4. “Native advertising” is another word for it. It just seems basically dishonest, much like Cameron Slater publishing other people’s writing under his own name.

    • r0b 4.1

      Ahh that’s it – I knew there was another term but couldn’t remember – ta!

      • ghostwhowalksnz 4.1.1

        Brand Insight has been running for some time, previously its been non controversial, eg Auckland University Business school, NZ navy , GE Finance.

        THis Sky City series , no doubt will be the beginning of an onslaught, is in the current affairs space.

        Indeed its running while the Herald is doing its own investigative report ( which started with a hiss and roar but then turned into a damp squib the next day- I wonder if it was spiked as the lawyers were bought in?)

  5. Bill 5

    From Charlie Brooker’s column on The Guardian – “The Most Dangerous Drug…”

    In its purest form, a newspaper consists of a collection of facts which, in controlled circumstances, can actively improve knowledge. Unfortunately, facts are expensive, so to save costs and drive up sales, unscrupulous dealers often “cut” the basic contents with cheaper material, such as wild opinion, bullshit, empty hysteria, reheated press releases, advertorial padding and photographs of Lady Gaga with her bum hanging out. The hapless user has little or no concept of the toxicity of the end product: they digest the contents in good faith, only to pay the price later when they find themselves raging incoherently in pubs, or – increasingly – on internet messageboards.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/mar/22/charlie-brooker-newspapers-dangerous-drug

    • Clemgeopin 5.1

      Thanks for the link. I enjoyed reading that article. Learnt some new words and phrases too : eating Minstrels, benign lysergic experience, incredibly verdant, sun-drenched meadow, sickeningly lily-livered….

  6. Weepus beard 6

    This brings to mind point 20 in MS’s thread about the RNZ interview on politics in 2014. Particularly that Facebook is unhelpful because of corporate influence.

  7. saveNZ 7

    I feel the cosy relationship with National and MSM will (like the cosy relationship with the Maori party and Act with National) benefit National but haemorrhages readers (or votes in the case of the National coalition with it’s partners).

    Yep even Slater looks like a fool but National still fine.
    Maori look like they sold out, but National is fine.
    Act used to be a political party but now less than 1% of votes, National fine.
    Herald and SST look like a right wing propaganda mag, but National and (Skycity) fine.

    National seem to have an uncanny ability to cannibalise it’s supporters.

    Even inside National, loyal members played by dirty politics such as how Mercenary Mitchells got his safe seat into parliament via a few ‘donations’ to Slater. Now he’s the chair on NZ security policy for the 24 hour surveillance bill. Personally this known level of corruption which has gone virtually unchallenged in plain sight is pretty disturbing especially by all of the above….

    You just have to look at Rupert Murdock comments via twitter to realise what sort of people are running world news… and also read ‘dirty politics’ to understand what sort of people are running and influencing our country.

    Scary stuff.

  8. ghostwhowalksnz 8

    Interesting that they have let the cat out the bag over ratepayers/taxpayers funding other convention centres.

    “Wellington’s new 2500-delegate convention centre (completed by 2017) is being ratepayer-funded, Christchurch’s 2000-person centre (also to be completed by 2017) is wholly taxpayer-funded and Queenstown’s (1000 delegates) has local and national government footing most of the $50m bill.”

  9. Tracey 9

    if it werent duplicitous herald would end the article with

    this was a paid advertisement for skycity.

    when i read it i thought it was an anonymous editorial… which in effect, it is.

  10. Tom Jackson 10

    People still read the Herald?

    3news had a puff piece on some subdivision the other night.

  11. SHG 11

    Add

    SECTION class=”bkt10 c_id1503637″

    to your browser ad blocker and never see it again.

  12. tracey 12

    SKYCITY

    Shareholders in Allocation:
    Allocation 1:47990641 shares (8.17%)

    HSBC NOMINEES (NEW ZEALAND) LIMITED A/C STATE STREET

    Level 9, 1 Queen Street, Auckland, 1010 , New Zealand
    Allocation 2:40794473 shares (6.94%)

    JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A.

    Level 13, Asb Tower, 2 Hunter Street, Wellington, Null, 6011 , New Zealand
    Allocation 3:39567297 shares (6.74%)

    J P MORGAN NOMINEES AUSTRALIA LIMITED

    Level 37 Aap Centre, 259 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 , Australia
    Allocation 4:38689837 shares (6.59%)

    NATIONAL NOMINEES LIMITED

    80 Queen Street, Level 4, Auckland Central, Auckland, 1010 , New Zealand
    Allocation 5:35779705 shares (6.09%)

    HSBC NOMINEES (NEW ZEALAND) LIMITED

    Level 9, One Queen Street, Auckland 1 ,
    Allocation 6:28939040 shares (4.93%)

    HSBC CUSTODY NOMINEES (AUSTRALIA) LIMITED

    Level 16, 580 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 , Australia
    Allocation 7:26675935 shares (4.54%)

    CITIBANK NOMINEES (NEW ZEALAND) LIMITED

    11th Floor, Citibank Centre, 23 Customs Street East, Auckland ,
    Allocation 8:22280288 shares (3.79%)

    NATIONAL NOMINEES NEW ZEALAND LIMITED

    Level 11, 500 Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria , Australia
    Allocation 9:18013407 shares (3.07%)

    RBC INVESTOR SERVICES AUSTRALIA NOMINEES PTY LIMITED

    Level 17, 2 Park Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 , Australia
    Allocation 10:15055638 shares (2.56%)

    ACCIDENT COMPENSATION CORPORATION

    Level 2, Bnz Tower, 125 Queen Street, Auckland, 1010 , New Zealand

  13. Wellington15 13

    On the morning of 12 January the Herald published two articles on the planned Sky City Convention Centre. The first was a special investigation by David Fisher (“A Most Unconventional Agreement”), the second an advertorial piece promoting the new Centre (“Convention Centre vital for NZ”).

    David Fisher’s article was highly critical on the way Sky City and the National Government had worked together and on how the Government had been outmanoeuvred. But his article was odd in several ways:

    1. It said it was the first of two articles, but the second has not appeared and no date is indicated for its publication.

    2. At the top of the piece is a video clip. I assumed this was David Fisher talking to camera, but it is actually the latest three minute promotional video produced by Sky City. In order to watch it, you have to sit through two other ads.

    3. There is no option for comments or other feedback.

    4. The article is not displayed on today’s Opinion page, but many older opinion pieces are. You have to search under “David Fisher” to find it.

    The advertorial piece is still prominently displayed today. It is the fourth in a series promoting the benefits of Sky City in the Herald under the “Brand Insights” banner.

    The General Manager of Communications at Sky City is Colin Espiner, who was formerly a political journalist with Fairfax Media.

    The integrity of the Herald’s journalism is severely compromised by such behaviour.

  14. Hone 14

    It seems to be a big business scam that’s been done all over the U.S.
    The white elephants have been build there and they are failing.

    “In Convention Center Follies: Politics, Power, and Public Investment in American Cities (University of Pennsylvania Press), Sanders documents how this industry is often falsely presented as a pot of gold, justifying massive public investments in new buildings.

    However, these convention centres never attract as many delegates as promised in consultants’ reports.

    straight com/news/714856/vancouver-convention-centre-use-falls-short-projections-just-other-centres-across-north-america

  15. JimMorrisonandtheDonuts 15

    As an advertising feature I don’t find them a concern. I have managed comfortably to stick to the facts, whatever the subject, and don’t think my thousands of stories have been lying to readers. When businesses run an advertorial they are making a public statement about themselves so there is a genuine pressure on them to be honest. The worse thing is probably the overuse of super positive descriptive language which I personally think, along with waffling on, makes advertorials less engaging. The advertorial can’t guarantee that a business is as good as it says it is but the vast majority of businesses I have written about have been very professional.
    As someone who does understand the importance of good journalism, it irks me no end seeing journalist not doing the job they are supposed to be doing. I see appalling examples of boosterism on tv and print media news.

  16. Sable 16

    If the Herald is facing economic decline then I’m not sure why that’s a bad thing.

  17. Weepus beard 17

    http://www.donotlink.com/framed?5326

    Today: “A new low with Herald’s native advertising”

    Slater arrives days late to the party where the Herald advertises on behalf of corporates while dressing it up as news.

    Freed won’t last long if it picks up stale news like this and dresses it up as cutting edge.

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