Insidious advertising or stealth marketing is an unethical issue in the media industry but has become so prevalent mediamen have learned to swallow it. In print media's news and advertising sections, ethics has become a clashing issue. The interest of the other simply cannot jive with the other one. Both compete for space in the newspaper with a normal distribution of 55:45 in favor of advertising.
The Print Media
It is depressing to know that advertising has the last say in print media knowing that advertisers can easily pull out accounts if whims are not followed. That goes too say that one cannot be too ideal in print because chances are people who have money will still be the ones to decide which should be written where.
And ordinary people have nothing much to say about this. Voices of the ordinary reader do not come in the equation.
But then again, can principle alone defend us from the clutches of self-interest of certain individuals?
As what media ethics posits, mere principle alone can conflict with the real world setting but what is important is not the temporal effect but the lasting reformation of a twisted belief. If for example, in an office, people have become so drowned in the rotten system, how are we to expect change?
To counter the flow is really difficult but the effect is for the future individuals to stop going with the flow but start standing by ones principles that would not compromise credibility.
In the broadcast industry, the situation is the same. Money is the universal language. Credibility is influenced by who holds money- the advertisers. Stations whether on TV or radio has become obsessed with ratings to entice advertisers which has become a necessary evil. Broadcasting expenses are so high media companies cannot afford to pay them all without the assistance from advertisers.
So the question is what to do with the advertisers?
In reality, we need not compromise media credibility with advertising. Sometimes it takes courage to say no and maintain integrity. But where do we draw the line between being a responsible media practitioner and doing business?
It's really tough to decided on this but as a rule of thumb, if advertising is already becoming the content of the media then there is certainly a problem that should be resolved.
Media should give the people they need in the form that they want.
From my old files, Media Ethics, March 24, 2009
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