I have been a journalist and publisher all my adult life. I’d like to think, as I enter the twilight years of my career, that my views cannot be bought. “Without fear nor favour” may be a cliché but I still believe in it. I also believe that an independent media is crucial for a pluralist democratic society. Unfortunately, for various reasons, media are now being tempted, more perhaps than ever, by cash for comment.

“Native advertising” is the new term for “advertorial”. It’s the same thing except the readers are not told that someone has paid for the item to be published. Apart from the fact that the report will probably be a little lame, the reader will not know that it is, in essence, an advertisement.

Here’s an example of an emailed approach by an English PR firm, called Let’s Get Wise, which I received recently:

“Hi Greg,

“I hope this letter finds you well.

“We are currently looking for sites willing to run our articles. We have a team of writers who will ensure the article adds value to both the site and its readers.

“Is this something that might interest you?

“We are also adding a posting fee of 100USD per year, for your time and effort.

“Our writers will write an engaging piece of content. It will also contain references to our client – one of the biggest trading and investing websites today.

“You have full creative control on the article: Send us a topic suggestion and our writers will build a post around it. The final article is also up for your review.

“Please let me know if you’re interested. Thanks for your patience, Greg.”

(name withheld).

I have never met the person who wrote this email and am considering my options as to how to respond. Maybe I’m being too precious, but I think “native advertising” is an alarming trend. And, as an aside, US$100 a year seems like a ridiculously small sum of money.
As the old joke goes: “We’ve established what you are, now we’re just haggling over the price.”

– Greg Bright, publisher of Investor Strategy News.

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