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Paid-for versus ad-funded journalism

April 16, 2009

In order to make sense of the world, we need filters. The media does this nicely – by printing story A, for example, as opposed to story B.  We can also use clever tools like Twitter or Netvibes to suck in information from places we trust or like.

So how skewed is the information we receive?  We rarely wonder at the incentives behind media selectivity.

In February, Walter Isaacson, former managing editor of Time magazine told Jon Stewart on the Daily Show why he thinks micropayments may be essential to rescue the newspaper industry.  It was not just a financial point – as he said, when you depend on an advertising funded model, “your loyalty ends up being with the advertisers, not with the readers.”  Quite so.

This recent (real) advertising roll from a UK national newspaper’s website home page is surprising, because all the advertisers are related to driving and holidays – in some cases, both:

Renault. Fiat. Mini. Europcar. RAC. Spain. Relais & Chateau. Chicago. France. Mauritius. British Airways. Singapore. Holiday Inn & Crowne Plaza. National Express. Eurotunnel.

Does this make the paper unnaturally complaisant towards travel and transportation?  Probably not much, if at all, but it shows how we are potentially unaware of the real influences on the filters we choose.

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One comment

  1. […] people pay for newspaper content online is seen as the solution.  As readers of this blog know, I believe this is the solution too.  The question that has yet to be answered is this: even if a third of people say they are happy […]



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