MxM Monday: Paid news – yes or no?

29 Apr,2013

 

By Ananya Saha

 

Mediaah! Are disclaimers enough to pass off paid content?

Readers expect the content in the newspaper to be published based on the decision of the editor, and not an advertiser paying for it, writes Pradyuman Maheshwari. Read more…

 

Paid content such as Medianet has gained much ground. Despite flak from different quarters, it appears that buyers are still willing to pay for space that resembled news and features. And readers may never know the difference. More media houses have begun indulging in paid content, but surely that does not make it right?

 

We ask industry folks to weigh in with their views.

 

Arun Anant, CEO, The Hindu Group of Publications

People may not know that some newspapers carry paid-for articles, and some people do not care either. That does not make it right. If an article is paid for by an advertiser, it should be made clear that there is an interested party that has paid for it.

 

 

Ranjona Banerji in ‘Freaking News’
 

:: Medianet mars an otherwise trendsetting paper

:: Not too late for TOI to correct practices

 

Santosh Desai, MD, Future Brands

Globally, it has become a phenomenon where sponsors pay for news. There needs to exist a clear difference between journalism and an act of promotion. If not kept separate, the line of demarcation will blur between the two. However, what is more dangerous is that when news is influenced by a transaction. Many do not care about Page 3, so if you have paid for it, it does not matter. The issue arises about hard news, when you do not know who has paid for it. MediaNet in itself not a wrong thing as long as you are announcing it who is paying for it. For instance, if you are reporting about a policy being announced and you do know which political party or a corporate house has paid for it. What is a much bigger issue is the corporate ownership of the media houses. There has to be a divide between news and advertisement: and how do you tell it? How do you divide ownership and journalism: and do you – that is more serious threat than MediaNet, in my opinion. The bigger point is about trusting the ‘news’.

 

Bharat Kapadia, Chairman, Whatuwant Solutions, and Founder at ideas@bharatkapadia.com

Using Medianet is completely unethical – whether readers do not seem to notice it or whether they do not care. There are two parts to it: the publisher and the readers. The publisher has been doing it for a much longer time than visible, especially at the time of elections. The readers, unless told, would not know which news is being paid and which is not. When, it all began, Bombay Times used to mention with a small symbol that it is paid news. Now even that is gone. People buy or consume news media trusting for a fair perspective. Now, if this perspective can be influenced, it is definitely not fair.

 

Anamika Mehta, COO, Lodestar UM

My personal point of view is, for a newspaper or any other medium, there are different and more questions about paid content. It happens globally in various forms but of course, it is not a good practice. A lot of brands and advertisers have jumped on this wagon, yes, but as a responsible media one should know where to draw the line. If one considers Page 3, where you can pay to get featured, it is all for entertainment. So one does not seem to mind. The moment it starts entering news or motivate political, business or economic sentiment, then it is a problem.

 

One can see that business pages also carry small snippets or news that might sway the reader into investing in a particular stock, or to create impact. Some of the brands do MediaNet for promotion. However, a line needs to be drawn. The reader should not be misled, and motivated information should be kept under check.

 

 

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