Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Media and commercial interest

The separation between newsrooms and advertising departments of news media is getting blurred these days. A few factors may be driving the trend: the migration of advertising revenue from traditional media to online media; the increased number of publicly traded news media; and the recession. The combination of the factors demands media companies to employ new ways of generating revenue to keep their business afloat.

In the mid-2000s, a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press report found that a majority of journalists believed increased attention for the business side of journalism was damaging the news quality and another survey found that a good majority of media workers believed journalistic standards had worsened (Stoll and McManus, 2005). Journalism in small communities may be more in danger. A study found that advertising sales persons at chain-owned newspapers and small papers were more apt to choose the options that hurt editorial independence to please advertisers (Soontae and Bergen, 2007).

Some industry observers propose people around news media, whether journalists or advertisers, should work together, creatively. Martha Steffens, journalism professor at University of Missouri, writes because in-text advertisements do bring in the revenue to sustain quality journalism, people in the media should "control" the practice rather than ban it at all (2007). Robert Niles, editor of Online Journalism Review, says advertisers are not necessarily attempting to control the day-to-day coverage. Rather, they want their advertising to appear close to an article on a certain subject (Pompilio, 2009).

Others are more cautious about the blurred distinction. William F. Woo, journalism professor at Stanford, thinks news media have a social contract. They enjoy First Amendment protections, free public airwaves and postage and tax benefits. In return, they ought to offer the best journalism (Stoll and McManus, 2005). Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at Poynter Institute, says she is concerned journalism may lose credibility from the audience as the business side tries new ways of making money. It will get more and more difficult for the audience to distinguish what is the work of independent journalism and what is the product of advertiser's influence (Pompilio, 2009).

Works Cited

Pompilio, Natalie. "A Porous Wall." American Journalism Review 31.3 (2009): 32-7. http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=41877979&site=ehost-live.

Soontae, An; Bergen, Lori. "Advertiser Pressure on Daily Newspapers." Journal of Advertising 36.2 (2007): 111-21. http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=25299478&site=ehost-live.

Steffens, Martha M. "Why Ads Stayed at the Bottom of the Page." Journal of Mass Media Ethics 22.4 (2007): 353-5. http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=27441557&site=ehost-live.

Stoll, Michael; McManus, John. "Downward Spiral." Quill 93.3 (2005): 10-1. http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.txstate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=16648839&site=ehost-live.

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