Sunday, August 08, 2004

Rather Schick

From Wired, a story about Fark failing to tell its readers that some of its links are paid for. Fark publisher Drew Curtis dodging questions. What motivates your secrecy, Mr. Curtis? It's a brave new world, values, norms in flux, etc., you bet. Why keep it a secret, unless you do see it's a fraud?

Then the story expands, just not far enough:
Paid placement is a long-running issue with search engines. Google does not accept payment for ordering search results, while Yahoo does. But while newspapers and magazines have traditionally been loath to blend advertising and editorial, product placement is common on television and in movies.

But even on TV, said Jon Fine, a reporter at Advertising Age, product placement is generally seen in entertainment programming and less so on the news.

"You see Coca-Cola plastered all over American Idol," Fine said. "You don't see Dan Rather holding up a Schick razor on the evening news."
Actually, you do. And, you see the New York Times holding up Manhattan real estate, wine merchants, and antiques dealers. Not talking about those clearly demarcated ads now. Adding a notice that "this is an advertisement" -- reinforced ably by the dogma of journalistic "objectivity" -- merely blurs the fact that every bit of news copy is composed within a representation of a world that is constructed by industrialists of journalism to comport with the protocol and decorum of the Chamber of Commerce.
Still, while the journalistic establishment might get worked up about mixing editorial and advertising content, Fine isn't sure anyone else does.

"Journalistic watchdogs get really (excited) about it," he said. "But does the public give a shit? I don't think so."


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