An increasingly important topic for media ethicists is the wall that should exist between news content and advertising; specifically, the important principle that the advertising side of a medium does not influence the editorial side. For Ogden, there’s not much wall – especially when the advertiser is Ogden itself.
Last year, for example, the bridal show sponsored by Ogden was previewed for two days (including how to navigate traffic detours) and then covered with near-life-size pictures afterwards. Those advertisers who participated were rewarded with mention before and photos after. Was it news? Of course not, but it certainly helped the Ogden bottom line. (I wrote about it here.)
On page 10 of this morning’s Wheeling Intelligencer (page 8 of the News-Register) is the following story:
Seven Springs Hosts Fireworks, Food Trucks Festival
For those with a discriminating palate who enjoy seeing the mountain-top sky lit red, white, green and blue, not much more needs to be said.
Seven Springs Mountain Resort is hosting Saturday its first-ever Fireworks & Food Trucks Festival.
The event, set from 3-10:30 p.m., will feature 15 of the region’s top food trucks along with the largest fireworks show to ever to presented on the mountain — 45 minutes in total.
The rest of the article describes the food trucks and bands that will be featured. What isn’t revealed in the article is that Ogden owns the Seven Springs resort. What we have is a thinly-disguised advertisement for Ogden-owned Seven Springs posing as an actual news story in an Ogden-owned newspaper.
There’s no wall there.
In doing some research on this topic, I came across a John Oliver monologue on "Last Week Tonight" from four years ago that is still relevant: