Tuesday, February 02, 2016

"Sponsored content" and "the news"

I have to admit that until I saw it on Joe Monahan's blog in the context of the APS school bond and mill levy election and sponsors in the local construction industry, I was entirely ignorant of the concept of sponsored content in news reporting.

A Google search found nearly 30 million hits; one of them a white paper from the American Press Institute entitled "the definition of sponsored content" link.

What struck me then, and what strikes me still, is how can "the news" include sponsored content?

It depends on the meaning of "the news".

In the context of supporting and enabling the democracy, "the news" must be the truth.  How can a news teller; a purveyor of the truth, simply turn over a part of their truth telling to "a sponsor" and not create the appearance of a conflict of interests?  ... and not sully their reputation for ethical truth telling?

The situation is further complicated by imprecise language.
Terms like media, journalists, and press as thrown around as if there were no difference between them.  There is a huge distinction.  The rights of the press are protected by the Constitution of the United States.  "Journalists" are not protected.  "The media" is not protected.

Journalists are at best, exceptional members of the press.  Journalists are journalists in no small part because they promise to abide by an agreed upon code of ethics.  They are no more "the press" because of their oath of allegiance an unenforceable code of ethics, than anyone who has not sworn obedience to the code.

A fair differentiation between the press and every other descriptor, imo, is that the primary goal of the press is to enable the democracy, period.

The press are a special class.

The framers protected the press because they recognized a critically essential element of democracy; informed voters.

Because the press are afforded such great respect and protection in the Constitution, the press are compelled to respect the democracy - or stop calling themselves "the press".

As an aside;

"The press" are men and women who become "the press" at the instant they want to be.

Voltaire expressed the underlying logic;
Man is free at the instant he wants to be.

In the instant that a wo/man becomes the press, they acquire no obligation to meet before they have a right to exercise their rights as free men and a free press.  They acquire no obligation to prove to anyone (including their government) that, that is who they have become.

The onus of proving anything at all, belongs to someone else.  It is not up to the press to prove they are the press; it is up to someone who believes that they are not the press, to prove that they are in fact not the press and entitled to First Amendment protection.
Free men and women do not have to prove that they are free before they are free.  They don't have to prove that they are free in order to exercise their human rights; one of which happens to be, the right to be the press.
I can't imagine a member of "the press" turning over any part of the telling of the news to a "sponsor", in-especially to a sponsor who is the subject of the news.

The bottom line.  All of the "news" outlets in Albuquerque are presenting sponsored content within their reporting of the news.  Their news is no longer the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  They are allowing sponsor bias to color the truth.

Monahan is unique among the media in that he is at least obvious about his use of sponsored content in the midst of his news.  When he runs his sponsors' content, he entitles it "sponsored content" and uses italics for additional differentiation.

Not so, Editor in Chief Kent Walz and
the Journal.

I am not suggesting that Journal sponsors are actually writing the Journal reports on the bond issue and mill levy, or even specific parts therein.

I am pointing out that the reports are about the good things that can be bought, and still not one investigation and report on (the lack of) stewardship in the leadership of the APS.

Sure, the editors complain about the lack of stewardship in the APS, but they relentlessly refuse to report on the depth and breadth of the problem; the ethics, standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

The proof of the scandal is simple and straightforward;
the abject absence of controverting evidence;
  • they cannot point to their own honest to God accountability to high enough standards of conduct to protect the public interests in the public schools.

NM Broadcast Assoc. affiliate stations', the Kabal; KRQE, KOAT, KOB TV, and KKOB radio, are running sponsored content during their "news" as well.

Walz/ the Journal, Munro/KRQE, Donaldson/KOB, Mary Lynn Roper/KOAT TV
Again, no indication that bond issue and mill levy sponsors are actually writing their scripts, but during their reporting of  the "news"; during their telling of the whole truth and nothing but the truth, they are instead, reading the company line.  Not one of them has ever been, or intends ever to be, candid, forthright and honest with their reader, viewer, listeners about the real accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS; the other election issue.

People can and will do whatever they want.
They can call themselves whatever they want.
I submit; they ought not call themselves "the press"
so long as their intention is to mislead the democracy;
creating beliefs or leaving impressions that are untrue or

It just seems so disrespectful of the reasons "the press"
were protected in the First place.

Walz and Roper photos Mark Bralley
Munro KRQE, Donaldson KOB TV

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