WIUM Tristates Public Radio

The Blurry Line between News and Advertising

Jul 22, 2014

The Shop Talk panelists discuss whether it’s okay for journalists to make extra money by serving as a paid spokesperson for products.

Newslab wrote about the case of a North Carolina television reporter who’s a paid spokesperson for several major brands on social media.  She’s doubled her income and her news director appears to be okay with her product endorsements.

The Shop Talk panelists oppose the practice and disagree with her news director.

Panelist Lisa Kernek acknowledged starting reporters usually work for low wages. But she said journalists don’t go into the business for the money – they do it because it’s a calling. She said they should expect to pay their dues.

Kernek said the situation creates an appearance of a conflict of interest.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said the ads could cause some audience members to question the reporter’s credibility.  She feels the reporter has crossed an ethical line. 

Crighton also chastised the TV station for allowing this to happen. She thinks the station is trying to capitalize on the reporter’s social media presence.

Panelist Rich Egger suggested this is another example of a reporter who’s more interested in being a celebrity than a journalist. He also said he’s seen commercials featuring national TV sports reporters and questioned whether they should be considered journalists.