A reader recently wrote in with a problem he’s facing with a local journalist.
His company frequently releases news that impacts the local community and could be fairly considered “newsworthy.” The problem? He works in a small market with just one television station—and that station is irked that his company hasn’t purchased advertising with them.
There’s obviously supposed to be a firewall between news and advertising. The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics is clear on this one: “Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.”
But the head of this local television station has repeatedly complained to this reader for having the audacity to call his station for news coverage considering that the company has declined to advertise with them.
What advice would you offer this reader? Keep in mind that the television station is the only one in town, so maintaining positive relations is the ideal outcome here.
Also, have you encountered this type of breach between news and advertising? How have you managed it? And is that practice more common than I think it is?
Please leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below. My reader and I look forward to learning from you on this one.