Jim Romenesko has a thought provoking piece up this afternoon centered around the following quote:
“I would like to propose engaging in a relationship where once in a while I supply you with fully developed stories (completed articles) that you can publish under your byline, with or without editing, at no fee.”
Highly unethical, to be sure, but the argument behind such a solicitation almost gives you pause for thought.
"The demise of paper-based journalism threatens to put down our watchdog, weaken the forces that traditionally comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, eliminate the institutions in our society which enforce civic accountability through their ability to expose and hold other institutions accountable. ... How can we create an economic model that supports investigative and accountability journalism? ... I’m here to cut through the problem, disrupting the existing business model, to help media break even or even make money acquiring first rate content. ... I’m here to help entrepreneurs rethink their publicity process to obtain guaranteed media coverage where traditional PR can’t."
I've experienced my fair share of out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to running advertising or press releases in a newspaper. Some of those (rad ads, anyone?) I've addressed on this blog in the past. But the truth is, providing this type of content with an actual byline (and I'd probably want an editor's note explaining where the story originated from) would be that off-the-wall.
But to attempt to credit the provided content to a staff reporter can only be an effort to make the press release seem more "news" than "advertisement" ... and that's what's most shocking about this story. (Heck, I still strive to make sure "paid advertisement" appears on any ads that take on the look of a traditional newspaper story. I think any papers caught picking up this content with see a direct hit to their reputation from the readership.
Check out the full post, here.