Being an advertising major, I feel like I have to defend the industry. However, I am also in journalism, and I have been taught to be honest and objective in reporting. What side do I chose? When do advertisers and news sources go too far to appease each other? When it comes down to it, I think journalists should do their best to follow this quote from the article “Taking Care of Business” from AJR: “The philosophy is simple: You keep the news and the ads separate because otherwise readers can't trust you.”
The advertising "lifeline"
I think it is necessary for newspapers to have advertising in print and online. It is even more important that print newspapers keep a steady flow of advertisements so that the paper can run. In this article from Ad Age by Anthony Young, he states that the newspaper industry has, “‘lost’ more than $17 billion in advertising to other media in the last 10 years. Ouch.” He believes that newspapers should not expect advertising to be the “lifeline” in the future. Young attributes the decline to the number of advertising sources available to marketers and advertisers. As a result, ad budgets are being allocated to more mediums.
Influencing news content
I don’t feel like the news that I see on TV has had any different influence on me because of advertising. I feel like both industries are helping each other. As long as the news is stating facts, throwing in a sales rep from one specific car dealer or cell phone store shouldn’t harm anyone.
My concern is: Are the advertisers influencing WHAT is on the news in the first place. If the channel has a clip on car dealers specifically for the advertisers, that is completely unethical. As Jim Pumarlo states in his column, “In the end, though, news value should be the major criteria in deciding when an event warrants coverage. That's in the best interests of everyone — advertisers and readers alike.”
If the newscast has a story reported specifically for the advertisers, I believe that would be considered breaking the Code of Ethics created by the Society of Professional Journalists. Under the section “Seek Truth and Report It,” the code says, “Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.” Ditto.