By Casey Bukro
Every so often, some new terminology creeps into journalism lingo. Sometimes it’s a new concept, and sometimes it’s an old concept cloaked in different words.
That could apply to the term “sponsored views.”
In an interview with iMediaEthics, Patrick Pexton, former Washington Post ombudsman, said “sponsored views” are new words for “advertorials, messages provided by advertisers in a way that looks like journalism, or slightly cloaked journalism.”
But, he added emphatically, “it ain’t journalism.” Instead, it’s brand journalism.
This became an issue, as iMediaEthics reported, when the Washington Post launched a Sponsored Media program on June 12, allowing special interest groups to buy advertisements that are presented as comments below op-ed pieces on the Washington Post website.
The move came three months after the Post abandoned its ombudsman position and replaced it with a reader represenatative. Pexton was the newspaper’s last ombudsman, serving from 2011 to 2012.
The move was motivated by finance, said Pexton. ” The Post needs more revenue,” he said.
Since then, Jeffrey Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, bought the Post for $250 million.
One writer wonders if brand journalism and ethics can co-exist?