The Washington Post has an interesting story to tell “Up for audit: ‘Checkbook journalism’ and the news groups that buy big stories”
The editor discusses in detail how certain sites and newspapers are paying “sources” the big bucks to get the scoop and publish it first. Of course this kind of “checkbook journalism” -as he calls it- allows the newspapers or sites to get even more people interested in the “breaking news”. So it’s sort of a nice circle- the more “awesome sources” you have, the better “news” you put out, the more people visit your site/buy the paper – the more numbers you have to show advertisers and the more you can bank on your product.
While this is all “very enlightening”, one should really look at the media from a business stand point. And let me explain!
“Pay for play” is not a new concept and I always find it interesting when a publication starts digging into this subject. A while ago Racked published a list of advertisers from Harper’s Bazaar who were to be included in an upcoming editorial. This created quite a negative wave of comments and lots of bashing on the magazine in question. However, we should all get real. It’s all about $$.
When running a public relations agency, you are well aware of the editorial/ad/source/giveaway dynamics- and quite frankly as long as everyone gets what they want, so be it. Of course giant designers are going to pay celebs to wear their creations. No different from how alcohol companies sponsor major parties. And by the same token, if you are a magazine that gets hundreds of thousands of dollars from a giant brand ($$ that keep your doors open) you may as well feature the brand in question in an editorial. Ultimately, they need exposure for the money they’re paying!
What never ceases to amaze me is this “I’m so high up on my horse” situation that everyone in the media adopts when it comes to acknowledging that no one is above ad dollars – or dollars in general. C’mon people your bosses as well as anyone else out there needs to run a business and in order to do so they need to do whatever it takes to make money. Consumers don’t buy magazines and newspapers any longer unless they have a reason- major giveaway of Louboutins, free trips to Paris, or the latest scoop on celebs and gadgets.
So while the article is extremely “insightful” (yes no one heard this one before…) I feel this subject is better left alone. It is what it is and we should all move on with our day…