Following 20 years of crippling circulation declines, loss of subscription revenues, loss of single copy sales revenues and loss of ad revenues, many have long speculated that newspapers have begun moving to a new revenue model: providing favorable news coverage in return for money. When one reads for the 100th time that a wind "farm" will power 35,000 homes, after the newspapers have been shown this to be an outright falsehood, one wonders whether wind companies have the media on their payrolls. Such concerns mount each time there is a story like the one below.
Report: Evening Standard Sold Positive Coverage to Google and Uber
The project, called London 2020, is being directed by Osborne. It effectively sweeps away the conventional ethical divide between news and advertising inside the Standard – and is set to include “favourable” news coverage of the firms involved, with readers unable to differentiate between “news” that is paid-for and other commercially-branded content.
According to the watchdog group, the Evening Standard plans to run “unbranded stories”, written by staff reporters, which are nonetheless “paid for by the new commercial ‘partners.'”
Although the 2020 campaigns will involve branded, native and advertorial pages, along with public debates hosted by the Standard, the six partners have also been promised the Standard will carry “money-can’t-buy” positive news and “favourable” comment pieces that will appear to readers as routine, independently written editorial.