So it’s not bad enough that native advertising – those ads in sheep’s clothing tricked out to look like editorial content – is slowly chipping away at the authority and credibility of real journalism. Now it’s also chipping away at the livelihoods of real journalists.

From Adweek (via Pew Research Daily Media Briefing):


Skimping on Fees and Avoiding Journalists: Are Publishers Doing Native on the Cheap?

Could be moving toward an advertorial model

From publishers to creative agencies to writer networks, many seem to be making money from native advertising. But one group that doesn’t always share equally in the booty is journalists.

While some are paying standard freelance rates or more to those who create native ads, some bad apples are skimping on fees or avoiding hiring journalists altogether.

One brand marketer told of an established news organization promising native content produced by its top journalists but that ultimately used marketing freelancers. “They represented themselves as giving access to their editorial staff,” the exec said. “Then they delivered articles written by copywriters instead of journalists.”


Okay, a couple of things:

1) Native advertising should be written by copywriters. It’s advertising for Chrissake.

2) No self-respecting news organization should ever offer up its own editorial staffers to a marketer. Ever.

3) If your news organization hires a freelance journalist, don’t cheat him/her.

To wit:


“We’ve seen it a few times where an advertiser is coming to a publisher and saying, ‘We’ll pay $1,000 a piece,’ and the publisher will turn around and pay the freelancer $100,” said Shane Snow, co-founder of Contently. “The publisher has some built-in costs, but we see some very large spreads in some cases.”


And some very small rates of payment – sometimes as low as $20 for a blog post or 30 cents a word for “fully reported, magazine-type pieces.” (A buck a word is pretty much standard for that kind of work.)

The Adweek piece offers some reasons publishers might be so chintzy with writers: “native has a precedent in traditional advertorials (skeptics maintain they’re the same thing), so it suffers from advertorials’ second-class status;” “native is expensive to create and difficult to scale (though many third-party companies are trying to solve that), and keeping expenses low is critical;” and etc.

Regardless of ginned-up rationales, the reality is that journalists are two-time losers here.


John R. Carroll is media analyst for NPR's Here & Now and senior news analyst for WBUR in Boston. He also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town.
John R. Carroll has 303 post(s) on Sneak Adtack