From CHRIS ARRANT: I just discovered something really disconcerting at my hometown paper [Panama City News Herald]: they’re doing articles/reviews of businesses for a fee from the business, but not telling the reader they’re basically “advertorials.” Here’s an example.
I became aware of it because I do some marketing for restaurants in the area, and the paper’s sales rep tried to sell me on this. It seems really awkward. I’m a small fish in a small pond, but is this sort of thing acceptable in the newspaper industry or is this something else? I’m concerned of a slippery slope here, and it’s made me question everything in the paper and which articles were only published because money changed hands?
(I have sent this email to the publisher and advertising director of the Freedom Communications-owned paper and have invited comment. — Romenesko)