Must We Be So Ethical?

If only we all were.......

But, that's not the case. And it can weigh on you even further, when you see those eschewing such considerations rising faster to the top - particularly if you're mired in the mud, unable to secure mobility (or is that quicksand?).

A long-term strategy needs affixed to any matter. And long-term ethical considerations are of paramount importance - in some industries more than others.

This week's lesson began with an interesting commentary on "advertorials," which seem to get overlooked a lot in these types of discussions. The quotation given expounded on the phenomenon thusly:

"Not too many years ago, news was news, ads were ads, and the two met only where the news hole ended and the ad stack began. Our journalism school professors and newsroom mentors preached the importance of separating news and ads. They told us that our credibility was on the line, that advertising should never influence or mix with news, that readers had to be able to distinguish between unbiased information and paid content...Then came advertorials."

- Scott Angus, editor of The Janesville (WI) Gazette & president of the Wisconsin Associated Press editors group

Yes..... and then came advertorials. You see these in magazines frequently, and, it can be difficult to discern them from regular features. Magazines, of course, should stick to basic journalistic integrity in print, but even more distressing is seeing this trend in daily newspapers, which really should be the torch-bearers for following journalistic ethical standards. The ones I've noticed aren't quite as bad as the ones I typically see in magazines, whose deception is top-rank, but the fact that they're creeping into newspapers in the first place, in any form, is disturbing enough.

I know at the newspaper I work for, mixing marketing overtures and news content is regarded carefully. Sometimes companies will send notices or releases which are overly glowing and full of fluff regarding their operations, serving basically as free advertising spots in the guise of informing the community of something or other "newsworthy." We watch for it and take it out, in part or sometimes in whole.

Really, it often just depends on the editor. Nowadays, though, more practical considerations, such as financial concerns squeezing the life out of daily rags across the country, may come more into play, unfortunately.

We must remember that, though we're marketers, we're in the journalism school for a reason, and we should be mindful to be bound by journalistic standards of ethics and integrity.

It would serve us all well.

Ramos, J. (2008). "Lesson 9:Walking the Line: Ethics in New Media IMC." IMC 619. West
. Retr'd Dec. 20, 2008.

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