A federal judge apparently has no problem with companies paying journalists to plug corporate interests in news content. He just wants to know about it.

From paidContent:

Judge orders Oracle, Google to disclose paid journalists and bloggers

In a surprise order, U.S. District Judge William Alsup said “the court is concerned” that Oracle and Google may have hired authors to comment about their ongoing court case. Now, Judge Alsup wants the parties to submit a list of their paid propagandists.

The unusual request comes months after the “World Series” of intellectual property trials in which Oracle unsuccessfully sued Google for billions.

The trial was remarkable not only for the large damage figures but for Oracle’s decision to hire Florian Mueller, a self-described “patent analyst” who also takes money from Microsoft. In his FOSS Patents blog, Mueller wrote a series of one-sided posts over the course of the trial such as “Oracle Java patent rises like Ph0enix from the ashes.”

Alsup didn’t explain his reasons for issuing the  order, but the paidContent post does note that, according to FTC regulations, “endorsers must disclose all material facts, including when they comment about a competitor.”

Actually, it’s this part of the post that most interests the Sneak Adtackniks:

Should journalists have to disclose when they take money from companies to “report” on issues? As this type of fake journalism becomes more common, one judge appears to have had enough.

First of all, as soon as they take money they’re no longer journalists. And second, is that the right question to ask? Shouldn’t we want to eliminate the practice, not mainstream it?

Just askin’.


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 305 post(s) on Sneak Adtack