Interesting question on political ads and news web sites, written by Poynter Institute faculty member Bill Mitchell. And a rebuttal from James N. Crutchfield, former editor of the Akron Beacon Jorunal.

As much as I admire Bill Mitchell, Mr. Cutchfield is correct. Mitchell’s is a typical reaction of “old world” media thinking in a new world environment.

Old world journalists must get over the axiom that readers cannot discern news from entertainment, or advertising. Readers, especially younger ones (and they ARE out there, contrary to popular belief), and more savvy and intelligent than we give credit.

If people can understand that Hillary Clinton’s appearance on Saturday Night Live is not an endorsement of her by the show or NBC, they can surely figure out a post-it web ad of Barack Obama on a news web site (and, again, we should also let go of the term “newspaper web site” because our product now is news, not paper) is not necessarily an endorsement of that news organization.

It’s a issue a lot of newspapers … including my current employer … still don’t get as they’re trying to attract new readers. Let’s respect our readers’ intelligence. Maybe then, they’ll respect ours.


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