It’s all Benjamin Franklin’s fault. He was the one who invented, in his first magazines and newspapers, the idea of using advertising to subsidize content. Not many people realize that even when they pay for the information in newspapers, magazines, or websites, they are only paying for part of the product. All those “annoying” ads are paying for people to write, create, and produce—and to support their families.
And here is the honest truth (I say this having been in the magazine business my whole life): advertising CAN influence content. Some editors DO live in fear of offending big dollar advertisers and some WILL create content that will appeal to different advertising groups. Unfortunately, a lot of critical information is influenced by our reliance on advertising. There is a great, great book by Will Allen called The War On Bugs, which describes in detail how advertising has encouraged our dependence on chemical pesticides and fertilizers over the last 150 years.
At Rodale.com and Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen, we don’t accept advertising from pharmaceutical companies—in addition to our heritage at Rodale of not accepting ads for cigarettes, hard liquor, or chemical fertilizers and pesticides. That said, the current consensus about online business is that the only way to really make money is through advertising, or by selling stuff (like Amazon.com does, for instance). So if you are interested in advertising with us, please contact our man Jeff Tkach. And if you would like to buy something from my store, check it out! It’s powered by Amazon.com.
Most of the studies done are still funded by companies trying to see if a product can be marketed. That’s hardly objective even if the news agency isn’t having to tiptoe through the mine field of ad dollars.
News orgs should offer both options, as well as cable tv: pay a little more without ads, or pay a little less with ads..
Great post with lots of ipmortnat stuff.