Evening Standard to Present Paid Hype As “News”
A round-up of the hottest takes from the best UK Indy Media
London Evening Standard to Present Paid Hype As “News”
Media Fund partner, Open Democracy reported last week that The London Evening Standard has struck a £3m deal to provide positive news coverage for 6 major corporations.
The corporations include Google and Uber, whose ability to pay for such deals is enhanced by tax dodging and other questionable business practices.
The Standard’s editor, George Osborne, may have no prior experience in the news industry to speak of, but he clearly makes up for it with his ability to get cozy with the 1%.
The announcement marks an evolution of “native advertising” – advertising copy presented in a way which is indistinguishable from editorial content. Paid copy has been around for a long time, but it tended to be stated as such and the edges are blurring further when such a large and influential publication as The Standard becomes so brazen in its approach. Presenting spin as fact is nothing new – but this is a new level.
The move is a propaganda boon for the huge companies. Legislation has struggled to keep up with the damaging side of what they do in the age of the internet and global neo-liberalism. Advertising that is indistinguishable from news reporting will be a big help in the war for public opinion (The Standard has a bigger circulation than The Guardian and The Times).
For example, as corporate giants like Monsanto seek to lever post-Brexit trade agreements to their favor, they could be driving narratives via big “news articles” about the purported benefits of genetically engineered foods. Countless other unpopular monoliths will seek to do the same.
Perhaps there’s an inevitability to the announcement, newspapers have run into huge financial challenges because marketing money that used to be spent through them now tends to go to Facebook and Google. For The Standard to be working for Google in this way is proof of how subservient our print media has become to global internet giants.
The risk is that the growth of this form of “news” will both increase misinformation and decrease trust in news consumers.
Fog of lies and misinformation
At the same time, the social media sphere has become increasingly riddled with disinformation and manipulation, as the exposure of Cambridge Analytica, the Russian state and others have displayed. It can only serve oligarchs, corporate elites, and malign states that these trends look set to get far worse.
Once more we see that ever decreasing reliability of establishment and social media underline the urgency of building a robust independent media sector, not least the UK.
Why not join The Media Fund and help fight back against the gathering fog of lies?
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