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Lines Blur Between TV News and Ads, Reports The Boston Globe

by | Jun 7, 2015

Viewers who tuned in to a recent 10 o’clock newscast on Boston TV station MyTV38 may have seen the future of local broadcasting. The question is whether they knew what they were watching, reported The Boston Globe.

Near the end of that telecast, the station aired an interview with Jeff Raider, founder of Harry’s, the online razor retailer. The segment ran during what is normally a commercial break but resembled journalism, with an interviewer posing questions to a business leader, continued the Globe’s report.

That report also stated:

“In fact, the piece was something in between — not quite journalism yet not exactly advertising. CBS and Boston marketing firm Allen & Gerritsen simply call it “content,” the first of its kind on Boston airwaves and possibly the first in the country.

“It represents one form of marketing often referred to as “native advertising” or “sponsored content,” which promises new revenue for money-starved news companies, but also raises questions among media ethicists.

“In the case of MyTV38, the segment was the debut of a weekly conversation series called “A Few Good Minutes,” to be produced by the entertainment arm of Allen & Gerritsen and shown during newscasts by CBS-owned WSBK-TV.

“Hatched over a breakfast meeting between CBS Boston president Mark Lund and A&G vice president Joel Idelson more than a year ago, “A Few Good Minutes” offers some of the same informational qualities viewers would expect from a reporter’s interview but without the probing inquiries and tense moments. Idelson, friendly and smooth, handles the on-camera questioning.

“The partnership between a news station and an ad agency brings together different types of media companies that historically have maintained a wall of separation but are increasingly intertwined, as news outlets seek alternative revenue streams and marketers try to embed their messages in the programs and pages people want to consume — a strategy known as native advertising or sponsored content.”

The Globe’s story was headlined: “On TV news, lines blue between journalism, ads”.

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