OLD Media Moves

Phillyinc. content is good, but sponsorship still a bad idea

May 1, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

The PhillyInc. column in the business section of the Philadelphia Inquirer that is being sponsored by a local bank has begun running, and the content in Tuesday’s paper is what you’d see in any business section around the country.

Philadelphia InquirerFirst, there’s the Inquirer/Bloomberg Index chart, which shows the performance of publicly traded companies in the area. That’s followed by two items culled from SEC filings — one about a REIT and how much in fees it paid to a related company and another about the shareholder vote of a proposal at an annual meeting.

And then there’s an item about how Unisys has one an award for recruiting despite the job cuts it’s announced in recent weeks. All of the items are produced by staff members.

See the Tuesday business section front page here. There’s also an ad for the same bank sponsoring the column stripped across the bottom of the business section. And the bank’s name is right next to the word “Business” in the section’s nameplate.

I think the content of the column is good, but I’m still not sold on it having a sponsor. It still gives off the connotation of the bank buying the space. I’ll be convinced that there’s no ethical issues when Phillyinc. runs a slightly negative piece about the sponsor in the space.

Others have criticized the move. I understand the print newspaper business is changing, and I have no problems with ads on the front pages of sections. It happens all the time in foreign papers, and U.S. papers ran ads on the front pages of sections in the 19th century. But where I get concerned is when the ad is from a company that might be covered by that section.

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