Don’t believe everything you read

Lisa Napoli Jun 15, 2006


LISA NAPOLI: What’s scarier? The idea that journalists can be bought? Or the idea that marketing professionals don’t know the difference between news and advertising?

Mark Hass runs the PR firm Manning Selvage and Lee. He commissioned the survey along with the trade magazine PR Week. He says he’s not surprised by the results:

MARK HASS:“What they showed me was that, how should I put it, there is a lack of clear understanding of the separation of the editorial content of a publication or broadcast outlet and the advertising content.”

That lack of understanding isn’t a shock in a world where product placement has become an enormous business, where advertorials are rampant, and where blogs pass for news.

Elly Trickett of PR Week says not all pay for play is created equal and the industry’s got to acknowledge that.

ELLY TRICKET: There’s a very broad spectrum of paid placement. What kind of environment is okay and not okay to have a paid placement in, and at what point should that be disclosed.

But media ethicist Deni Elliot says don’t blame the marketers: Blame the media:

DENI ELLIOT:“The problem is the creation of the hybrid we call infotainment. Where it’s just not clear what’s supposed to be information, and what’s supposed to be entertainment, and with product placement, the question is what’s supposed to be advertising.”

Darkening the blurred lines so people see the difference sounds like it could be easy.But not when so many people are competing for your attention and when there’s so much money at stake.

In Los Angeles, I’m Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.

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