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Handling sponsored content, native ads QT52  

Although it is quite possible scholastic media will never face making a decision to run material known as sponsored content or native ads, students and advisers should prepare guidelines just in case.

Sponsored content and native advertising, two media terms for paid materials, are becoming a fact of life for media and consumers. That said, student media, when faced with publishing them, should act carefully and with the best interests of the audience/consumer first.

Scholastic media owe it to their audiences to expect clearly sourced and non-slanted information, particularly with so much concern with fake news.

Guideline

In the last several years, commercial media have faced a new kind of paid content — “native advertising” or “sponsored content.” The goal with this content is to provide advertising in a way that mimics the look and style of news/editorial content instead of appearing as traditional advertising. This style of advertising has raised serious ethical issues and discussion.

Given the influx of this type of advertising and its spread into scholastic media, students should remember their obligation to keep their communities aware of what kind of content they are publishing.

Communities need to know the type content they are exposed to so they can make informed and rational decisions.

Question: Should your student media accept sponsored content?

Key points/action: Sponsored content and native advertising, two media terms for paid materials, are becoming a fact of life for media and consumers. That said, student media, when faced with publishing them, should act carefully and with the best interests of the audience/consumer first.

Since it is financed ads or reporting, it can be fake news or at least deceptive information, and approached carefully.

Stance: We believe sponsored content can be accepted and published while still protecting the integrity and credibility of student media.

Reasoning/suggestions: Students must create clear guidelines for publishing sponsored content. Recommendation for inclusion in those guidelines should include:

  • Prominent and clear identification of the piece as sponsored content.
  • A clear statement, at least on the op-ed pages or their equivalent, of why your student media publish sponsored content and who paid for the piece or benefits from its publication.
  • Verification, as much as is possible, of the credibility and factualness of information and sources in the piece.
  • A concise statement, at least on the op-ed pages or their equivalent, that what your editorial board’s support of included material is Ex: this content does not necessarily represent the view of your media or school system).Resources:

Making Memories, One Lie at a Time (example of native ad), Slate Web magazine
New York Times Tones Down Labeling on Its Sponsored Posts, Advertising Age
Native Advertising Examples: 5 or the Best (and Worst), WordStream Online Advertising
The Native Advertising Playbook, Interactive Advertising Bureau
Audio: Sponsored Content, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee, Press Rights Minute
PR Giant Edelman Calls for Ethics in Sponsored Content, Forbes
FTC: Publishers Will Be Held Responsible for Misleading native Ads, Adexchanger.com

Related: These points and other decisions about mission statement, forum status and editorial policy should be part of a Foundations Package  that protects journalistically responsible student expression.

 

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