Sponsored article on Reuters website contradicts its Pulitzer winner
A sponsored article on the Reuters website states that the Thai government has improved working conditions of seafood workers, a contradiction of the news service’s Pulitzer Prize-winning stories that found trafficking in the industry, reports Joshua Carroll of Columbia Journalism Review.
Carroll reports, “In a statement to CJR, Reuters says that the department behind the ad, Reuters Plus, operates independently of its journalists. ‘All Reuters Plus content on Reuters.com is clearly labeled to differentiate it from editorial content’ the statement says. (Stephen Adler, Reuters’s editor in chief, is chairman of the advisory board of CJR.)
“The piece is marked ‘sponsored’ at the top, followed by a line identifying the content as ‘provided by’ Thailand’s foreign ministry. A line at the end in smaller, fainter font states that the article was not produced by Reuters journalists. Reuters has a section on the homepage dedicated to sponsored content, and stories sponsored by the Thai government are mingled with news stories in Google search results about the topic. But research suggests that many are either oblivious to these disclaimers or do not know what they mean.
“‘It’s not very likely that the typical reader would understand that this is a sponsored story,’ Bartosz Wojdynski, director of the Digital Media Attention and Cognition Lab at the University of Georgia, says. ‘Typically somewhere between a tenth and a quarter of readers get that what they read was actually an advertisement.'”
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