Friday, December 28, 2007

Stop The Presses!!! Media Companies Sell and Create Ads and Websites!!! 
This comes as a surprise, apparently, to the Stars & Stripes bureau chief.

Top editors at the military newspaper Stars and Stripes are asking for full disclosure of the paper’s relationship with a Department of Defense publicity program, called America Supports You, after disclosures that money for the program was funneled through the newspaper....


An audit, announced in October, is examining whether the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, a Pentagon outreach program that educates civilian leaders about the military, is in compliance with the law and Defense Department policies.

After a Stars and Stripes reporter, Jeff Schogol, discovered that the inspector general’s office had widened the inquiry to include the newspaper, he investigated and wrote articles that the newspaper published. Documents have been posted on the paper’s Web site, www.stripes.com, that describe payments, including a $499,000 purchase agreement between Stars and Stripes and a contractor doing work for the America Supports You program. The documents stipulate that work be submitted to employees on the business side of the paper for an advertising program and a Web site for America Supports You.

Holy wholesale ink purchase invoices, Batman! I think we found the last six newspapermen in the country that think media companies don't sell advertising and never get involved in creating Web sites for large advertising clients!

Welcome to the real world, guys.

Disclosure is a good thing. But I don't see why the editorial integrity of Stars and Stripes has been compromised by the arrangement, any more than it's already compromised by being partly owned and financed by the Pentagon in the first place.

Splash, out



And yet, 'top editors' are involved with editorial integrity.

I have a lot of respect for those guys. Talk about underpromise and overperform. When I first saw their guarantee that there was no editorial interference from 'outside their chain of command' I laughed. I figured it meant you just had to bring the problem to your superiors, and they went up to their superiors until someone high enough told the paper to roll over and play dead.

Amazing how wrong that was.
but america supports you isn't an ad client of the newspaper. it's a gov't PR program run by the same agency that has administrative oversight of the stars and stripes. money wasn't paid to stripes to advertise. taxpayer money was funneled through the stripes business office to contract with an outside PR firm to promote the support the troops program, and it was all kept under wraps, and the defense dept won't release any info about how much taxpayer money was used in this manner, or what it was used for. in effect, stripes is refusing to release public information to stripes. stripes editors and reporters have been reporting all this (see stripes.com), pretty well showing their independence.
So where does the threat to editorial integrity come in?

If the editors don't know anything about the program, then how in the world could they be compromised by it?

What's wrong with contracting with an outside PR program?

If it all stayed on the business side of the paper, why would the editors care, other than out of an interest in the story?

If the editors are showing their independence in pursuing the story, then presumeably, they're independent, so what's the problem?

Be specific.

Otherwise, everybody's conflicted, all the time. I buy ads with a PR firm. Believe me. In the real world, there's all kinds of REAL conflicts. This ain't nuthin.'
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