ADS DISGUISED AS NEWS?

For reasons that elude me, NYT is reporting the existence of reheatable pot roast–a product I’ve seen in stores for quite some time–as news. Could it be that they are being paid to “advertise” these products?

FILED UNDER: Media
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Sherry Katz says:

    There are few things in life I am certain about, but one of them is that the NYTimes would not publish an ad in the guise of an article. I am an executive for a B2B publishing company where it is very easy for articles to look like ads, and even in our business, the editors would stage a major revolt and many would quit on the spot were we to even suggest the idea of pay for copy without clearly designating it. About 3 1/2 years ago the LA Times went through a major upheaval over a supplement about the new Staples Center in LA where a relationship between Staples Center and the paper was not fully disclosed. (A few years before that I worked at Times Mirror, and a few of my current co-workers were with the LA Times at the time of the Staples Center incident). It was a major embarassment to the Times.

    Sometimes, when watch TV “journalists” it’s easy to start thinking the “journalistic ethics” is an oxymoron. Those people you see on TV are not journalists for the most part but radio and TV majors picked for their pretty camera friendly looks. The magazine and newspaper journalists that I know are incredibly passionate about the importance of the separation of the business from the content, as we refer to it as “the separation of church and state.”

  2. James Joyner says:

    I suppose. Although I know, for example, that the WaPo “Auto” section is essentially an advertisement, even the front page which is disguised as a new car review. And I honestly can’t figure out any other reason NYT would be writing a story about a product that has been in the stores for at least a year, probably longer. Wow! Pre-packaged food! All you have to do is reheat it!

  3. Sherry Katz says:

    If the article is a paid ad it will have a border around it and say “paid advertisement.” I’m not saying everything the NYTimes does is good reporting, but when it comes to the food section or the auto section there isn’t a lot deep investigation going on. I don’t see anything remarkable about this incident, I see things discussed all the time in the news (papers and on TV) that aren’t news to me at all.

  4. James Joyner says:

    I see things discussed all the time in the news (papers and on TV) that aren’t news to me at all.

    Certainly true. And, upon looking at the “story” again, it doesn’t look as much like a review of a particular product as it did initially–the competitors are mentioned. The piece just struck me as bizarre initially because I couldn’t figure why you’d give front page treatment to a piece on products that I’ve been seeing forever. (Which aren’t bad, for that matter.)