Monday, September 9, 2013

Ugh. Sponsor Me This, Batman

Sigh.   Ad Age reports that certain publishers are enlisting staffers on the editorial side to "produce content" for their advertisers.

Is this the future of journalism?    Ugh.   This is what happens when we call it "content."

Mainly, the offenders are smaller, newer digital sites, such as Mashable and Mental Floss.  Still.  Is this what we can look forward to as journalism goes completely digital? So wrong, on so many levels.   What rankles most, at least in the Ad Age piece, is the justification for using reporters to pimp product.  From the story:

Will Pearson, the president and other co-founder of Mental Floss, said setting up in-house studios separate from the editorial talent fails to benefit sites' advertisers and readers, because editorial staffers most ably reflect the voice of the magazine.

"We noticed that other media properties' sponsored posts were not as strong as their regular content," Mr. Pearson said. "And we put our finger on why that was: So many publishing companies and media properties are spinning off studios and separate editorial teams."

Thus far, it seems that only smaller or relatively new media brands are using their editorial staff to write sponsored content. George Janson, managing partner and director of print for GroupM, sees this arrangement as something of an anomaly in the publishing business. But there could be some appeal to marketers, he said.

"If the reporter is a subject matter expert more so than a marketing person, which I assume they would be, then ideally that reporter has more credibility," Mr. Janson said.
Um, benefit the readers?  And: more credibility?   With whom?  Seems to me that reporters who are tasked with pimping widgets might have a little less credibility if and when they might be reporting actual news, especially as concerns those widgets and/or the folks who make them.

Who exactly are you gonna trust?  For that matter, when the same reporters/sites are reporting news as well writing "sponsored content", will readers be able to tell the difference?  Someone needs to call this sh*t out, yeah? bk

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