You know your local newspaper does things like cover for its elected friends, trash legitimate critics, ignore reality and kill journalistic integrity.
So this latest stunt of pushing advertising as journalism won’t surprise you:
How Amex found the news coverage it wanted
Gannett newspapers in 15 U.S. markets this month will publish short profiles of up to 150 small retailers, in a holiday shopping series sponsored exclusively by American Express.
But the stories published online so far are vague about the credit card company’s involvement — showing the nation’s biggest newspaper publisher is once more testing the limits of Journalism 101 Ethics.
At papers in Asbury Park, N.J.; Brevard, Fla.; Louisville, Ky., and Phoenix, readers are told only that the stories are “presented” by American Express.
Yet, they aren’t told the retailers are all supposed to be those accepting American Express cards, according to an internal GCI document provided to me by a reader.
But the document, a guide for photographers working on the series, is much more explicit.
“In a deal with American Express,” it says, “Gannett Co. Inc., is producing a sales campaign around Small Business Saturday called Shopping Main Street. The two-week campaign starts Nov. 23, a couple of days before Black Friday and will feature local small businesses that are American Express merchants in 15 Gannett markets.”
Among journalism ethics transgressions, this isn’t the end of the world. Still, it violates a long-standing rule designed to protect a media outlet’s credibility: Reporters don’t favor businesses in order to please advertisers.
Click here to read the entire thing.
It’s the same thing that’s been appearing in American Express advertisements in business and trade magazines for months. And now your paper will be passing that advertising off as news.