Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advertising and Journalism

I discussed in class the relationship between advertising and journalism. Journalism needs advertising in order to stay afloat, but where is the line between the two? Editorial content and advertisements need to be clearly defined as such.

Newspapers and magazines have started using their front page (or cover) as a place for advertisements. Those pages turn the most profit for advertising, and in a world where studios are paying $700,000 (what it cost Disney to put the Alice in Wonderland ad on the front page of the L.A. Times) it's hard to blame "dying" newspapers for selling out.

The Times first began printing misleading front page advertisements in 2009, when they put an ad for NBC's 'Southland' on the front page (picture to the right), directly next to the editorial content. While there was a large NBC logo above the ad, and the font was also different, it is easy to see how readers could have been mislead.

Time and time again The L.A. Times appears to be more interested in helping their advertising partners than reporting the news.

"We worked very closely with Disney to come up with an exceptioonal and distinctive way to help them open 'Alice in Wonderland,' said the Times' spokesman John Conroy. It was designed to create buzz, and to extend the film's already brilliant marketing campiagn." (Kenney)

They had a similar unapologetic response to their Law and Order cover, which was arguably much less obviously an advertisement than the Alice in Wonderland one.

(On the left is the advertisement, on the right is the real front page.)

"Nancy Sullivan, The Times' vice president for communcation, said: The Times collaborated with NBC to launch 'Law & Order Los Angeles' in a big, creative way for the hometown audience. This is an exciting, innovative ad that takes the show's beloved 20-year 'ripped from the headlines' concept and puts it front and center for Southern California." (Readers Representative Journal)

Another example I mentioned in class was editorial content and advertising in magazines. Open any women's magazine, and you can't tell a fashion spread shot by the magazine from an advertisment shot for Nordstrom.

SPJ Guidelines to keep in mind:
*Seek Truth and Report it
--Distinguishe between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
--Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.

*Act Independently
--Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
--Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist theri pressure to influence news coverage.
I think we're letting the L.A. Times off the hook for their advertisements since it's Hollywood. What do you think?
Here are some links that I found helpful:
An article about retouching pictures in magazines. Is it okay for a magazine that says they won't retouch any of their pictures to print retouched advertisements?

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