Once news go live via news websites, blogs or twitters, journalism faces challenges in a digital age as traditional media confront rivers of gold lost .
Another form of media called “sponsored content” now appears more than ever. Will this a short-term financial incentive save journalism at the cost of trust and reputation? Or could it create a virtual circle of business model to enable journalism to adapt to the new digital era?
It is very common to read the travel diary, feature writing and life style articles from the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), sponsored by travel agencies, or health organisations.
SMH has achieved the highest trust of readers, with 71%, compared with The Telegraph at the bottom with 48%, a 2013 report said. The survey shows SMH trust has not been lost by using sponsored journalism.
Of course, journalists writing sponsored content are prone to write more positively about the company/organisation who pays for the service, compromising the objectivity of the journalist. However, when choosing reputable clients, they can use professional skills to inform the public with insightful information and share interesting stories. On the other hand, advertising usually spends money wisely to ensure their product/service reaches more audience in a more acceptable way.
Journalism needs funding to survive, like any other industry. if not government funding, they have to sell their product (content) and service (skills) to survive.
The questions is how you can sell it smartly and ethically to make an ecosystem landscape?
Firstly, by being transparent. You must declaim its sponsored content and write it professionally and truthfully, and you should let the reader make the judgement.
Secondly, sponsored content should be restricted to certain sections, such as travel and lifestyle, and keep the sections separate. Try not to confuse the readers.