When We Think We’re Reading A News Article, But Really It’s Advertising

Please click the link below to read the first item on the Columbia Journalism Review post.  It’s especially important if you’ve never heard the word “native” used to describe something on a news site.

For the owners of media outlets, often the real issue is generating enough ad revenue to stay in business.  Newspapers and magazines are losing money, and even the more ethical publishers are getting desperate.

It’s discouraging when people fail to question what they read, see or hear.  Most young people aren’t taught to engage their critical thinking skills, and that laziness can stay with them for the rest of their lives.  The handful who care to vote will cast votes that don’t reflect their principles because they haven’t looked carefully at the issues.

This isn’t just about tabloids and gossip magazines.  Most of us like to think we aren’t gullible if we dismiss what we read in The Enquirer. However, if we’re going to benefit from real news reporting we can’t be trusting or dismissive.  We have to be able to use our heads.

This new trend in advertising takes advantage of human frailty, but it isn’t the first time advertising has done that.  If we’ve been convinced — even on a subliminal level — that drinking a particular brand of beverage will make us more attractive to others, we’re likely to be influenced by any line of crap if it’s delivered right.

So-called native advertising may be manipulating us on a subliminal level.  The only way to offset it is for the public to learn “streetsmarts” when something is reported as news.  Will it happen?  Yes — for a few of us.


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