Oct 13, 2005

A Sign of the Apocalypse?

For some reason this news item knocks me over, though I guess I shouldn't be surprised (and yes, I have considered the lack of disinterest on the part of the researchers). The juicy bits (free registration required to read the whole thing):
A study released yesterday by Starcom USA found that 65% of consumers believe that advertisers pay for editorial mentions. Moreover, Starcom found, readers are receptive to reading about brands in articles... Advertisers, particularly automakers, have been increasingly pressing for ways to buy their way into the editorial pages of magazines, a heinous no-no for the American Society of Magazine Editors... "This study is not a permission slip," said Brenda White, director-print investment at Starcom Worldwide. "It's a warning." If readers already believe editorial content is for sale, she said, publishers who push the needle further could jeopardize what reader trust they have.... Said Janice Min, editor in chief at Wenner Media's Us Weekly. "The thing that's probably discouraging to a lot of editors is that much of the general public wouldn't even care," she said. "People who I consider pretty well-informed will ask me, 'What's wrong with paying for stories?' [or] 'Oh wait, they don't pay you to put that purse in the magazine?'"

I know there are more pressing problems in the world, but in my neck of the professional woods this is just depressing. Though, on a lighter note, there's this chestnut to remind us of the persistently high esteem in which the field has always been held:

The British Journalist

You cannot hope
to bribe or twist,
Thank God! the British journalist.

But, seeing what
the man will do
unbribed, there's no occasion to.

—Humbert Wolfe

UPDATE: All right, this is actually more depressing.

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