The Memphis Commercial Appeal now has a sponsor for a part of its Sunday business section, much like a bank’s sponsorship of a column in the business section of the Philadelphia Inquirer, reports John Branston of the Memphis Flyer alternative newspaper.
Branston wrote, “It started with two little words: ‘sponsored by.’
“Those words appeared in tiny type above a small Boyle Investment Company logo and a collection of short news items about commercial real estate in the Sunday business section of The Commercial Appeal two weeks ago. The column is called ‘Done Deals.’ Many readers probably paid little or no attention to the sponsorship. But the issue of sponsored news, or ‘monetizing content’ as the CA calls it, is sending a shock wave through the newsroom at 495 Union.
“Sources at the CA say sponsorship of an upcoming series of stories about Memphis and world business was scratched after the writer, editor, and other reporters objected. A staff meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, October 17th.
“The reporter, Trevor Aaronson, and the editor, Louis Graham, declined to comment. Flyer sources said as many as 50 newsroom employees signed a petition expressing their concerns about sponsored stories. The story is about business in China and was to be sponsored by FedEx.”