Thursday, August 11, 2011

Marketing vs. Reporting, Continued

As I noted last week, an Atlanta Journal Constitution staff report on the weather contained a marketing tag line for partner radio station WSB.
Doug Turnbull in the AM750 and now 95.5FM News/Talk WSB Traffic Center reported
Bold is theirs. Not mine. That's exactly how it appears on the AJC website.

I did a little follow up on this new curiosity.

According to the AJC's Public Editor, the tag line is the "descriptor" used to identify the partner station. I don't believe Shawn McIntosh understood my point that someone somewhere consciously made the decision to start including a marketing tool in every staff report. Also, playing it off as akin to following the AP style book is frankly a little weird.

I also contacted a former reporter for his opinion. His thoughts were that it probably did not cross an ethical line but it is "amateurish"  and "shilly". He also pointed out it has gone on far longer than I knew.

Here is a February 2011 report on a DUI suspect slamming a police officer head on,
"It appeared as though he was making a left-hand turn when in fact he was making a U-turn, going about 15 miles per hour, and collided head-on with one of our officers," Duncan told AM 750 and now 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB.
My question for my journalist readers; am I making a big deal out of nothing or does this bother you?

If you still work up Perimeter way, feel free to comment anonymously.


rptrcub said...

No, you're right on target. There has always been a tension between editorial and marketing, and it seems marketing is gaining an edge. It's really stupid. Just credit WSB-AM like you would WAGA or WXIA or whatever.

MTHEORY said...

You ARE making a big deal out of nothing and it has bothered me since they started doing it. NOW 95.5fm has been included in every single mention for what, more than a year?

griftdrift said...

I guess I just never noticed it before Mike. Maybe others haven't either?

I think it was the fact that it was a weather report that made it so jarring.

It was like, what the hell is that doing there?!

lazermike said...

I think the thing that feels so wrong about it is that it seems like the paper doesn't have control over its own content -- like someone outside the editorial area is telling reporters what words to use.

Because it appears where we expect professionals to choose their words carefully and not simply take what they hear at face value, having a pre-conceived, meaningless marketing phrase dropped in is jarring, as Grift says.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's weird. An AJC writer griped to me about it, like a year ago. The Cox cross-marketing is relentless, and probably smart.

griftdrift said...

You're probably right Doug. It is likely very smart. But the more I think about this the more disturbed I am.

Previously, if there was a relationship it was disclosed so the reader could judge the piece in that context.

Now, in the disclosure's place you have an extension of the marketing campaign.

Yeah, that's not only weird. That's pretty disturbing.

griftdrift said...

The more I think about this the more questions I have.

Doug can you think of any equivalent scenario in tv news? Would there ever be a circumstance where you included a well known companys tagline to identify them?

And if marketing is dictating editorial content, even on this small scale, where does it stop?

And how in the hell does Rodney Ho deal with this?

Garrett said...

"Authorities say faulty electrical wiring was the cause of a fire that injured three today at Walt Disney World, where annual passes start at just $199 for Florida residents.

This is Peter Jennings for ABC News."