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Pay-to-Play Content Becomes SOP in Media



The same day Mother Times published a piece by me about a new morning show c oming to WTSP-Ch. 10 in which advertisers will pay to be featured, Advertising Age published the results of a poll conducted by PR Week indicating "that nearly half -- 48.9% -- of senior marketing executives admit they have paid to have commercial messages integrated into print and broadcast editorial content."

Certainly, that was my perception in researching Wednesday's story, which noted Gannett Corp. has made a particular priority of bringing these shows to its stations, creating such shows in St. Louis, Denver, Sacramento and Tulsa.

Less than three years ago, when Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz wrote about the same activity at WFLA-Ch. 8's Daytime, Sen. John McCain threatened Congressional action and trade publications mistakenly accused local media of ignoring the story.

The fact is, both Tribune TV critic Walt Belcher and I had done stories outlining WFLA's pay-to-play provisions in Daytime when it debuted, but no one seemed to care. TV executives, in particular, like to accuse me of nitpicking and unfairly criticizing their actions when these subjects come up -- as if it was the height of naivete to expect TV stations not to try confusing their viewers with barely-disguised infomercials.

As media fragments throughout the digital sphere, perhaps it is naive to expect TV stations won't work hard to wring every last dollar from their airwaves. But at a time when media and journalism crediblity is near rock-bottom levels, do viewers really need another reason to mistrust what they see onscreen?

Dave Chappelle Preview

I didn't have much room in today's Floridian article on Dave Chappelle to recount many of the jokes I saw during his opening night stand at the Tabernacle in Atlanta Saturday.

Which was just as well, because when I tried writing down his routine, I found that vocal inflection and profanity adds so much to his work, that many of his bits didn't make any sense when reproduced for a family newspaper.

Still, if you want a taste of what you might see during his shows tonight or Saturday -- or what you might be missing -- here's a few choice quotes.

"Everyone got mad at Bush for the war because he lied. Let me tell you something about this war. First of all, maybe its all of our faults. Yeah, I said that. Maybe Bush can't do something like that all by himself...(And) what if Bush came out and told us the truth....In 10 years we're broke. We have nothing. But I have a plan. We're going to rob Iraq...You want nice things, you want big cars, well this is how we pay for this s--- America. The whole country would be shocked...nobody wants to hear the truth."

"Two years ago, I used to make fun of celebrities, until I saw what they were actually going through. All that s--- that happens in the press, that is called corporate discipline...Look how they do Britney Spears. She's a mother for the first time in her life and the media's like, (in official-sounding voice) 'She's a bad mother. Look at her driving with the baby in her lap with no car seat.' So? Remember when we were kids? Our parents used to smoke in the car didn't have no f---ing seat belts on. All kinds of s---. Leave her the f--- alone."

On why legendary pimp Iceberg Slim perfectly captured how capitalism subjugates people: "A good pimp knows, there's a finite amount of s--- a woman can do before she loses her...mind. So a good pimp can read her miles. That sounds bad, but they do it to all of us. That's why so many of us work from nine of five. Because nine to six might kill a b

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:36pm]


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