Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Matter Of Trust

If you can't believe in a newspaper, then why bother with it?

Why should you trust a paper that rails against deceit, that advocates openness and truth, when it runs dubious advertising?

Once again the Press-Republican is letting Treasure Hunters Roadshow -- not to be confused with the PBS program, Antiques Roadshow -- run full page ads that need some scrutiny.

The ads are really advertorials, i.e., at first glance they have the appearance of a news stories written by a "STAFF WRITER." But that writer is employed by THR, not the PR, if you read closely. THR got into a bit of trouble for its ads looking too much like news articles. The Better Business Bureau requested THR to include a notification with each advertorial that it was really an advertisement.

Somebody slipped up at the PR on Monday, June 28 (page A12). Here's a JPG scan of the upper part of that ad. Notice that there's no Paid Advertisement notice across the top of the page.

Now that a look at the next day's ad, June 29 (page A10), the top part. Paid Advertisement is repeated across the top, giving the reader the needed info that while the story is formatted like a news feature, it ain't one.

But there are other problems besides the appearance of the ad. Google "Treasure Hunters Roadshow" and you'll find some articles questioning the practices of this company. Doesn't anyone at the PR know how to use Google or any other search engine? Or does it avoid digging into the background of an advertiser when it takes out a full page ad in color that means a good chunk of $?

And it's not just the ads. Check out page A6, June 28, the Home and Garden page. Under HOME BRIEFS is what appears to be a news article, "Roadshow comes back to town,' complete with the dateline PLATTSBURGH. Some people don't realize that a newspaper will run press releases as if they're really news, not canned copy. Forget about so-called "journalistic objectivity" when you read that crap.

In an editorial dated June 13, 2010, the statement is made that you can trust the Press-Republican for national and international news because it uses the Associated Press, a trusted source. But can you trust the PR for local news when advertising money blinds its eyes?

But don't take my word for it. Check out this article by Abe Sauer, "Real America: The 'Treasure Hunters Roadshow' and Their Small-Town Newspaper Grift", a story easily found via Google. He sums it up with this one paragraph:

"Local newspapers are desperate for advertising dollars. But in a rush to whore themselves for decreasing amounts, they are abandoning their mission and jeopardizing the very populace they enjoy claiming they benefit and serve, all the while whining about being ripped off by those dastardly bloggers who have no sense of responsibility… or ethics."

Those evil bloggers, rant the mainstream media. You can't trust them. Trust us.

Please note this blog doesn't accept any advertising.

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