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The ad-editorial wall is falling. But if it ever really existed, why are there PR firms? 7/20/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Ad-editorial wall, PR.

If two events in a week signal a trend, it looks like the wall between news content and advertising is falling down. More specifically, we are witnessing the disappearance of the visual cues that news outlets have been providing to demonstrate that their news content is untainted by advertisers. Early in the week the LA Times opened its pristine Front Page to advertising, and now we learn that CNN Headline News’ Glenn Beck is pitching Select Comfort Matresses on-air, just as he does on radio.

The reason I limited the shift to “visual cues” is that news outlets have been deluding themselves into believing that such an impenetrable wall ever existed. If there were one, why are there PR firms that are paid big money to insert their clients’ products/services/personalities into the news? But even more revealing is this — if there were such a wall, wouldn’t reporters have resented PR flacks’ entreaties as an insult to their sense of professionalism? Another piece of journalism dogma falls, all-in-all just another brick in the wall.


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