Have Cash? Get Media Coverage…

During my graduation years I read one of the world’s largest selling daily newspaper to get my dosage of news on latest business trends, current affairs and things happening around town. I felt enriched by my level of awareness and would often take part in discussions and debates. Years passed and I joined a PR agency where I learnt that most of the executives avoided the newspaper I read as they believed or it was a known fact that it carried paid news.

What exactly is Paid News?

Paid News is broadly:

  • Publishing or broadcasting advertisements masquerading as news
  • Paying the press money for publishing or broadcasting news in favour of a particular individual, organization or brand
  • Individuals, organization or brands  advertising in newspapers/ news channels in return for free articles/ airtime

Being in the profession I regularly hear rumours about political candidates, organizations, celebs etc paying money to a newspaper or news channel to elicit favourable news coverage. Browsing through newspapers I usually see a full-page advertisement of a brand, on turning the page I see an article of the same brand. Sometimes the article may appear in a day or two, or even after a week, but it does appear.

It feels like a waste of time reading an article that was actually an advertisement. It feels worse if you actually voted for a political candidate, bought shares of a company, applied to a university after reading and believing the positive article that was actually paid for.

Is the journalist to be blamed? Well, the journalist can say that he had succumbed to pressures from his seniors or from the people who play a major role in generating income for the media house, i.e., the marketing department and get out of the mucky situation.

On the other hand, many newspapers while publishing a favourable article that is paid for usually place a visible header that reads – Advertisement, Advertorial, or Media Marketing Initiative, which is the legitimate way of selling space.

There is no way one could distinguish which newspaper or news channel is carrying paid news and which isn’t. No one knows the extent to which this is happening; even the smartest in the industry cannot spot and claim that this channel or publication carries paid news.

It’s sad and critical for the dozens of media houses that don’t sell their editorial space as they get dragged along with the rest when such a topic arises. The best brains in the industry need to congregate to think this through carefully.

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

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2 Responses to Have Cash? Get Media Coverage…

  1. Debby says:

    SO, so relevant. Its getting harder by the minute to identify what is authentic and what isn’t. From simple stuff like movie reviews to issues of critical importance. This world is in big trouble.

  2. kennethpeter says:

    True! wanted to write on this for a long time. However don’t think theres a way to spot the authenticity so far

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