Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Advertising taking over print?


Anyone that watches television at any hour of the day will be bombarded by commercials or infomercials about a plethora of products. We all have become aware that it takes advertisements to earn the hundreds of networks money. Although it is routine and our society has created a numbness to the twenty minutes worth of commercials, it will be hard to get adjusted to the idea that advertising may own the print world too.

Even in 2005, the Christian Science Monitor published an article after recognizing the push of product placement into print media. They aren't simply speaking of ads on random pages or the classifieds. Companies are making a campaign to "exchange" placement of their product into print pieces for money and sometimes other deals, according to the CSM. The ethical nature of this swap would be an awesome discussion for our class any day, but the legal side of it could become pretty scary for papers too. The CSM says that if product placement is traded for money, the deal "would violate the operating guidelines of most publications, which usually insist on a clear division between stories or "editorial copy" and advertising as a mark of responsible journalism."

Watching shows like "American Idol", the contestants actually perform commercials within the show for companies like Coke, Ford, and AT&T. Could this be what print is headed for? We could be reading an article in The Washington Post and suddenly find ourselves being pitched to by Lexus to buy a car. That thought alone should shake journalists to their core. TV producers complain constantly about having to cater to their advertising sponsors and write shows that are appealing to the executives instead of their viewers.

The producers of "Grey's Anatomy" faced a similar debacle when their advertisers and their network threatened the show for a homosexual relationship within their plot line. One of the characters was simply written off the show and never heard from again. If this type of behavior begins to seep into newspapers and magazines, will there be any true journalism left? As a PR major, I respect advertisers and the very difficult population they have to pitch to. But if their role in the industry becomes intertwined with the journalist side, what kind of industry could we be looking at in the future?

By Cleo Stoll

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