In today’s maritime press, the distinction between editorial and advertising space continues to be blurred almost to the point of extinction. I have dealt with this topic before, but I feel compelled to write about it again because, as a former shipping and ports journalist, I am appalled.
A publication is supposed to sell only advertising space. Editorial space is for news and other editorial material. When you offer it for sale, editorial integrity goes down the drain and journalism becomes hack writing.
Not all, of course, are guilty of the practice. However, I have seen enough over the years to say that many maritime publications, local and international, engage in this kind of journalism.
I have known maritime reporters in Manila who routinely write puff pieces in exchange for money or some other form of gratuity (e.g., an all-expense-paid trip). Some companies may offer to pay a publication directly for a write-up, which is then published as though it were a legitimate story, not tagged as an advertorial. This obliterates any distinction between editorial and advertising space.
It is all a great disservice to a publication’s readers, to say the least.
The rise of online publishing has given birth to another form of editorial space selling. More than once, Marine Café Blog has been contacted by some SEO (search engine optimisation) consulting outfit with an offer to pay for certain articles to be published in the blog.
I always turn down such offers even though they would mean income for the website. Call it pride, but it feels good to be able to keep one’s principles.
~ Barista Uno