The City of Newark couldn’t seem to get good press for its activities and policies. So it’s buying good coverage for a year from a community newspaper. Most would agree that paid coverage that features a controlled message is considered advertising. Only the newspaper is not going to identify it as such. These stories will run just like every other piece of news. This is disingenuous to the readers and another black eye for the public relations and journalism professions.
If the City wants to buy space and identify it as a paid message from the City, fine. But maybe they should be spending more time figuring out why they have such trouble selling the good stories and how they can improve their direct communications channels with constituents instead of hiding self-promoting ads under the guise of hard news. I hope the PR, advertising, and journalism advocacy groups can come together on this issue and urge Newark and the newspaper to find a more honest approach. I don’t think advertising is the answer to their problem, but that’s another issue entirely.