First we had "fake" helicopter tours. Then there were 'fake' asian buyers for Chinese New Year. Next we had a "fake" mansion. Now do we have "fake" news created so that our cities' major daily newspapers can sell real estate advertising?
Last decade news entertainment, or “infotainment,” dominated the news landscape. Sharply scorned by many traditional journalists and academics for focusing on “entertainment” rather than “news,” the practice has taken hold notwithstanding.
The trend has been for news programs to make their broadcasts more entertaining to gain ratings. By incorporating more lighthearted presentations or human interest stories into newscasts, they could hold their audience. While there is still a line between a traditionally hard news approach and infotainment, the current media climate has blurred the distinction.
This decade, with the rise of the internet and the explosion in social media, that line is being blurred even more as print media fights for their very survival.
To stem corporate losses, newspapers have taken to raising the price of their subscriptions and news-stand copies. They have also taken to instituting 'paywalls', methods of charging readers for online content. But it's not enough. An in desperation another disturbing trend is starting to emerge.
The news media has always been targets for product pitches of one form or another. Businesses and politicians have always bombarded mass media with press releases designed to promote self interests. From time to time media has picked up on these 'press releases' in the name of informing about 'public interest' stories. And no sector of society has seized on this tendency like real estate marketers.
Stories with a real estate theme have reached legendary status on the Wet Coast, particularly when it is revealed these stories are nothing more that shills or manipulations of the media. (On that note, The TYEE has an excellent article out by Shannon Rupp worth reading titled: Why Blog when you can Flog which outlines the Industry's attempt to manipulate the blogosphere)
But what is disturbing here is that the print media now views the rapacious demands as something to exploit. And exploit it they are. It's a trend we call "Newsvertising."
Real estate marketers crave media spots in the news. And nothing garners attention like a news story profiling your development in a positive way. Until now that sort of attention has been free!
But not anymore.
Rather than be the lackey who provides 'free advertising", print outlets like the Vancouver Sun/Province appear to be seizing on an untapped opportunity to sell their journalistic souls.
It used to be, if you wanted to advertise you product under the veil of a news story, you had to suffer the ignominy of having a banner placed above your 'fake' news story that read "ADVERTISING FEATURE"
However the moment people see the term "ADVERTISING FEATURE", they tune it out. Makes selling that sort of advertising virtually impossible.
Enter the Vancouver Sun/Province's latest gambit: incorporating advertising so that it appears as "news" without outwardly announcing it's not.
"Newsvertising": the next step for print media.
You can see the tactic here:
This March 21st Vancouver Province story has all the hallmarks of a human interest real estate news story, but it's not a news story.It's an "advertisement feature" cleverly disguised as a news article.
Scroll to the bottom of the 'story' and you will see this:
When you go to the link: theprovince.com/focus you are instantly taken to the Vancouver Sun/Province advertising rates page. This little blip at the bottom is all there is to discern this as an 'ad' from other regular news articles.
And it doesn't stop at fake human interest news stories, The Province appears to be faking hard core news too.
On March 15, 2013 the Province ran this "ADVERTISING FEATURE" dressed up like regular news:
For all intents and purposes it looks just like a real news article:
What are you going to do? Go find a computer to find out your reading an ad in your hard copy newspaper?
The major daily newspapers in our City appear to be so desperate for ad revenue that they have taken to prostituting their journalistic ethics for a quick buck. All while the public is being served up highly misleading advertisements presented as news.
The Canadian Association of Journalists principles for ethical journalism state:
Journalists have the duty and privilege to seek and report the truth, encourage civic debate to build our communities, and serve the public interest. We vigorously defend freedom of expression and freedom of the press as guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We return society’s trust by practising our craft responsibly and respecting our fellow-citizens’ rights.
You deserve more from your print media.
If they won't give that respect to you, maybe it's time to start demanding it?
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