Native advertising is labeled incorrectly
Department of Journalism
Last week (Sermitsiaq, week 48), I made a contribution to the debate about the fact that Sermitsiaq.AG's newspaper supplements should be labeled clearer when the content is ordered, determined and paid for by a company or department.
Editor in chief and director of the media company responded. Thank you for that. However, I have to bring the following elaborations:
Christian Schultz-Lorentzen writes: "The media company Sermitsiaq.AG follows the recommendation by the Association of Danish Media".
The Association of Danish Media is an industry organization for all Danish (and Greenlandic) media companies. They have published a guide to their members about how the so-called native advertising is to be labeled to comply with the Marketing Act.
In the guide, the Association of Danish Media writes:
"The phrase "in cooperation with" will e.g., not comply with the demand of clarity in the marketing law, as this is too vague and does not indicate with sufficient clarity to the recipient that the advertisement is actually advertising - i.e., advertiser-paid content" [in Danish: "Formuleringen "i samarbejde med" vil f.eks. heller ikke opfylde markedsføringslovens klarhedskrav, idet dette er for upræcist og ikke med tilstrækkelig klarhed gør modtageren opmærksom på, at der reelt er tale om reklame - dvs. annoncørbetalt indhold"].
In some newspaper supplements, nothing indicates who has sponsored them, while the editorial is written by the editor in chief (Sermitsiaq & AG, week 35 just have the logo of the Danish Defence - see below). In other newspaper supplements, it just states: 'Published in collaboration with ...' Therefore, I believe the media company needs to make clear when it uses sponsored content - both to comply with the legislation, to make it clear to readers and to maintain integrity.
'Defence newspaper' (Sermitsiaq & AG, week 35)
Christian Schultz-Lorentzen writes: "Only freelance journalists have been used. They often have a mixed business, and have to offer where they can to make a living. It is also not uncommon for freelance journalists to write for the public sector and to write stories for the media".
I think it is irrelevant what employment the journalists have. The essential aspect is that the journalists who write native advertising also write many articles in the editorial papers about the same topics.
Christian Schultz-Lorentzen writes: "Well, the independent media is already in a dependency relationship. For example, when it comes to job advertisements from the ministries. Should we stop writing critically about the politicians in fear that they will deprive us of media support?"
In the advertiser-paid content of the media company, it is not just about promoting advertisements and job ads, but also about producing content in collaboration with the advertiser. The journalists must thus interview the same sources; one day the source can decide, the next day the journalist must relate critically to that very same source.
In addition, the media company has the construction that it is the same editor in chief that is responsible for the native advertising and the journalistic content. At the same time, he as director is also responsible to the owners regarding the media company's economic performance. Can such a construction not plant a seed of doubt regarding the newspapers' independence?