Advertising and editorial: how do editors strike the difficult balance?

Asme’s changes, which ended a bar on cover ads and jettisoned an admirably simple edict – “Don’t ask editors to write ads” – underline the difficulties of a trade organisation keeping up with a media industry under pressure to do business in new and possibly dubious ways. The challenges are coming so thick and fast it sometimes feels that no one, in any country, is getting this relationship right.

At one end of the scale we have the Telegraph, the once venerable paper still reeling from allegations made by departed columnist Peter Oborne that it committed a “form of fraud” on its readers by allowing advertisers such as HSBC to control the content written by an increasingly beleaguered editorial staff.

But earlier this month, BuzzFeed, some years from venerable and whose growth has been almost as fast as the speed with which one of its cat videos goes viral, got caught in a mess of its own making by deleting articles that criticised two advertisers – Dove and Hasbro. “Ha!”, you could almost hear old media journalists snort – those teenagers have even less respect for the time-honoured church and state separation than us.


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