You truly have to wonder what the news flow of the future — which today is grounded in credibility — will look like when even the Associated Press is distributing advertising along with its news stories. Out of economic necessity, AP plans to start adding sponsored posts on its mobile apps and hosted websites next year. "The big hit to the revenue," says Jim Kennedy, AP's senior vice president for digital strategy and products, "was the drop in the newspaper segment. Newspapers are just paying a lot less."
AP is mindful of the possibly seismic implications of running ads in its newsflow. The sponsored posts will be marked as advertisements. "Although the exact demarcation is still being worked out," Advertising Age reports, "the AP plans to err on the conservative side, according to Mr. Kennedy. 'We don't want to jeopardize our reputation.'" Of course not, but AP has had to reduce its rates to newspapers, some of which have ended their AP contracts.
Maybe we're over-reacting to the financial pressures on a stalwart news source like AP. But the news landscape is definitely changing, whether to rolling countryside still pretty much unobstructed or to quirky terrain difficult to trust is for the near future to reveal.
One reassuring factor is that newspapers themselves generally haven't been maliciously influenced by their advertisers (although our own local - and fading - newspaper has started running three-inch-deep ads across the bottom of its front page). But even so, images like AP's matter greatly.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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