Final Paper Snapshot

For my final paper, I am planning to look at the ethical impact of blurring the line between advertising and journalism. The traditional business model of journalism no longer works, but has not really been successfully replaced, especially in terms of digital. Is there a way for advertising and journalism to co-exist in a way that doesn’t compromise the publication’s integrity?

My focus will be on digital publishing and advertising, but I will also look at what the print-side of newspapers is doing. I want to see what new models are being developed and experimented with, and what the ethical considerations should be for journalists, especially when some media companies are providing their own marketing and advertising services. These business strategies may increase revenue, but do they leave the integrity of the publication in tact? Is it possible to have a reputation for top-notch journalism as well as innovative advertising strategies?

To explore this, I will look at research done by the Pew Research Center on individual newspaper’s strategies and digital advertising revenue, as well as “The Search for a New Business Model”.

Within my personal ethics guidelines, questions about advertising are mainly a question of transparency, but also journalistic integrity and the commitment to truth.Because I feel that objectivity and a lack of bias is unrealistic in journalism, I am interested in what can happen without a complete separation between advertising and journalism. Using additional research on Aristotle’s Golden Mean, I want to examine the possibility of a compromise. Native advertising poses an interesting question for me personally, because I am not opposed to sharing a personal point of view with reporting or advocacy journalism. Is there a place for native advertising and are there ethics codes in place? The Newspaper Association of America explored the issue here.

The most important part of a story is letting the audience know what they are getting, either an independent article or a sponsored post, and then letting them decide for themselves. Through my paper I hope to better establish my own beliefs as a journalist and also examine the possibility of quality storytelling that may blend the lines or “break down the wall.”


One thought on “Final Paper Snapshot

  1. Bill Mitchell says:

    This is a very timely topic, Jess. Kirk Cheyfitz (we’re friends and also partners in a start-up in Detroit) argues that we’ve entered the post-advertising era. You can read more here (and Googling Kirk and post-advertising will yield more). The gist of it: Consumers of media do not want to be interrupted by messages irrelevant to their lives; advertisers need to provide useful (as opposed to promotional) information. Kirk (who has a journalism as opposed to advertising background) argues that the most successful advertisers, like the best journalists, give their first loyalty to readers/users/listeners/viewers. I’m sure other advertising experts suggest a first loyalty to clients. I look forward to seeing what you come up with, especially in the context of Aristotle’s Golden Mean.


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