Monday, October 5, 2015

Bonjour! It’s on the internet, so it must be true!

Tracy Brewer

Or if it’s in print by a reputable publication…you name it, if it is being offered by someone we trust, we usually don’t question the validity of the story. The irony of our naivety is that it is fully taken advantage of by sarcastic sites like The Onion and reputable, TRUSTED sources (like Shape Magazine.) A few years ago, The Daily Beast highlighted the biggest fails where the Onion was quoted as an authentic news source. Just this week, another "article" was taken as the truth. Wouldn’t it be nice to have watchdogs alerting us to the validity of other news stories? Well, we have them: one another.

The Onion
We’ve all seen the “paid advertisement” articles in the magazines we read, albeit in small print across the top, it is stated it is an advertisement. But how clearly do you decipher a sponsored news report from real news? In print or in video? It is often very difficult to tell the difference.

An "advertorial" from Shape Magazine

PRWatch offers a nice sample list of actual video footage with background information about the sources. From that list, some of the big culprits that used VNR’s are popular and reputable news networks like Fox News and ABC News local stations.


Do productions such as these “reports” harm the credibility of not just the company that sponsors them but the media that broadcast them? I personally think they do. For example there is a “report” about a discount retailer in the Cleveland area that one of the morning news reporters “interviews” and this video is inserted during weekend reporting, on a consistent basis. It's placed in the middle of a broadcast! When I first saw it, I honestly thought it was a report by the news station that employs the reporter. But now that I have seen it numerous times, it is annoying and obnoxious. It ruins my perception of the reporter as well. I’m sure this isn’t the goal of the piece but I’d rather hear a commercial from them than the 20 minute spot of a local “celebrity” acting as if they are sincerely promoting the company. It all seems meaningless and insincere. To see an entire local celebrity list of endorsements, you can view their website.

Honda ad from Advertising Age article

The public researches the background of many things they question, online. We as consumers, end up being the biggest proponents of what's real and what isn't. We call them out with a viral vengeance. It is almost a challenge to dispute and prove a story wrong or not as it seems. Media would strengthen their trustworthiness with exhibiting transparency from the start. When media outlets insult the audience’s intelligence, it has to work twice as hard to regain their trust. Just as transparency is a buzzword today, it gained that reputation because it is under-fire and demanded by the public. It was a topic of discussion in the ad world of late as well,

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