Sacred Ground for Sale

April 20th, 2007

I’ve been meaning to get to this for the last couple weeks, but there’s been a lot going on – Imus, etc. – that demanded more immediate attention. That said, I didn’t want to let this slide on by.

Here in Philadelphia what once was considered sacred ground is now for sale. A couple weeks ago, the Inquirer announced that it would soon begin selling ads on the front page. This news came fast on the heels of all-news powerhouse KYW Newsradio suddenly selling time. No, not just airtime… but rather the top and bottom of the hour timecheck (KYW newstime, 8:30… time for a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee!)

Navel gazers in white towers everywhere are surely appalled. This would never happen in Cronkite’s day! However, it is most definitely a growing trend today

I can assure you that purists in the PNI newsroom reeled at the news. Journalists tend to consider theirs a higher calling. They are seekers of truth and not to be besmirched by commercial considerations.

Is this good or bad? Well, it depends; the key consideration is whether readers/listeners can differentiate between the news and the paid advertisement. It is imperative that both organizations make the distinction clear. If they confuse their audience, they will ultimately lose their audience. And as the two most credible news organizations in the region, that’s a dangerous line to walk.

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