Free Internet Journalism from Corporate Advertising

Flo-350Attention class. Here’s today’s new word: “Native advertising.”

Okay, that’s two words. But it’s one concept, and it has nothing to do with native people. Rather, it’s a phrase sprung on us by the wonky wordsmiths of internet media, who also refer to it as “brand content,” meaning that these particular web pages are not articles, but paid advertizing. But they don’t want to be too explicit about distinguishing between genuine news items and ad hustles.

Why not? Money, of course.

In today’s fledgling web publications – from such newbies as BuzzFeed to the digital versions of old-line pubs like the New York Times – there’s been a blurring of the line between the publications’ legitimate journalistic content and the faux “stories” that are provided by marketers and designed to look like real articles from non-biased news sources. For readers and viewers, the questions are obvious: Whose stuff is this, and what can I trust?

The best ethical response by online publishers would be to draw a bright line around all “branded content,” perhaps with some flashing neon lights and honking horns to announce: “This is an ad.” But no. While internet publishers say they seek journalistic integrity, they’re hungrier still for advertisers’ dollars, so their game is to flash just enough integrity without losing the bucks.

That’s a losing game for integrity. Media analyst Bob Garfield notes that the very effectiveness of native advertising depends on it being confused with editorial content. Eliminate the confusion, and the ethical failure diminishes, he says, but “what will also diminish to near vanishing point is the readership of those adverts.”

jim hightower

Any media so dependent on corporate money that it resorts to deceiving its audience is – in a word – ”dependent.” Also, “untrustworthy.” We need public funding to free the independence of journalism on the web.

Jim Hightower
America’s #1 Populist

Published by the LA Progressive on January 10, 2014
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About Jim Hightower

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top.

Hightower is a modern-day Johnny Appleseed, spreading the message of progressive populism all across the American grassroots.

He broadcasts daily radio commentaries that are carried in more than 150 commercial and public stations, on the web, and on Radio for Peace International.

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