Friday, April 28, 2006

Ethical Advertising vs Journalistic Integrity: Using Advertising As A Reliable News Source

Is reality painted for you by advertisers?

I get people who ask me to write about their companies. Through this blog, and my online column at American Chronicle, I am happy to help sustainable or ethically inclined businesses here and there, especially if they are sponsors for good causes such as our fundraiser for leukemia. My column is heavily syndicated and can put a business into the google news within hours. It is a very effective marketing tool in this day and age of online news. However, I am really against the idea of working for free. Call me crazy.

This in its own right is a very ironic situation. I am not a journalist. I am a writer at an advertising agency. Yet we both spread information in the same way. The main difference? At the risk of alienating a lot of journalists, advertising puts its cards on the table. It fully acknowledges its bias. While the line between PR, advertising and journalism may be very thin, I have never made any false airs of being a traditional objective, non-biased journalist. And how many news sources can you say are like that?

I am here to promote certain values and ways of thinking and the businesses and products that stand behind them. Essentially, Sustainability Advertising is the bridge between the mainstream and the hardcore. It is a melting pot of ideas and ideologies and if it is a bit of an anarchistic mess sometimes, it is because it keeps it interesting.

The values of Creative Wonders are promoted on this site, thus the sustainable, spiritual and personal development bent.

And don't kid yourself. Every media outlet has its own agendas and ideologies. I just like to put mine on the table.

However, while journalists may print stories about companies for free. Advertising agencies do not.

Don't get me wrong. We do tons of pro-bono work. But if your company is looking to make a billion dollars in revenue by 2012, don't ask me to write about you glowingly for free. It's exploitive.

Here is where the ironic bit comes in. Although unabashedly an advertising medium, I find that a blog also has to adhere to certain journalistic integrity. If no one believes you, you might as well be writing ads.

This is where my belief in ethical business comes back into the fray. The reality is that everything in business boils down to REPUTATION.

You believe those who have earned your trust through a history of honest, transparent, and accountable behaviour.

My gentle readers, Sustainability Advertising is a sustainable resource about that which interests you, that being sustainability and advertising. Once it leaves me, it becomes public property for public consumption, write your comments, love or hate it, it is here for you.

If an advertising blog can offer you a history of truth, then why not an advertising agency? To take that further, why not an ad?

If a company earns the trust and goodwill of the population through accurate and honest communications, they have a very valuable resource on their hands, paid or otherwise.

That’s me (on the far left) touring the 1-800-GOT-JUNK Junktion.


At 11:10 a.m., Anonymous Abigail Smalls said...

I think you should expect people to ask you for free columns because you're writing free columns
all the time. It's also expected that you would say
no. It's your perogative, and your time, and time is

Also, you should remember that journalists get paid to write news/features. They don't do it for free. I understand your point about putting bias on the table, but I also think it's important for somebody to make an effort to keep personal/corporate opinions out of mass media.

As always, however, the audience must be considered.
Fools need the built-in bias. They need someone
(advertisers/flaks/columnists) to tell them what to
think. Intellectuals can tell when something
purportedly objective isn't. And they get pissed. They
want to make their own decisions based on facts.
Because of them, journalists who don't at least give
equal space to opposing views don't last long in the

I agree that complete objectivity is next to
impossible. But I still argue that making the effort
is more noble than deliberately touting corporate
interests every day, "sustainable" or not. Ah, the
age-old debate.


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