A story about a new version of Trump's infamous campaign hats is running as a “news” story on a few Sinclair Broadcast Group stations — perhaps with a specific undisclosed marketing connection.
Here is the lead on the Sinclair station WRGB Albany website: “Donald Trump's re-election campaign has rolled out new hats as the President aims for another four-year term in 2020.” The new hats now carry the slogan “Keep America Great.” More breaking news: “The hat, which is made in the United States, costs $25.00.”
A similar story also ran on WJLA in Washington, D.C.
This is solid reporting for sure -- until we see there is also a link showing where to buy the hat.
Wait! Referee’s whistle!
Does this mean what I’m reading is “content marketing”? There was no disclaimer here. It sure seems like part of a media campaign for Trump 's 2020 re-election. We don’t know if this or other Sinclair TV stations ran this story on their local TV newscasts.
A Newsweek story also ran a story on the hats — but with a bit more journalistic intent. It included the fact that Donald J. Trump's previous presidential campaign, the one featuring the “Make America Great Again” red hats, including banners and flags — were being made in Chinese factories.The photo of an employee in China sewing some key political fabric was taken July 13, 2018. Does that mean it’s still going on? Yes, that would be another angle for the story.
Of course, all this gets heightened because it’s Sinclair — the TV station group that made the controversial move to “mandate” every one of its nearly 200 TV stations run the same on-air TV commentary warning viewers about “fake news” and a request that viewers go to the station’s website and comment “if you believe our coverage is unfair.”
Unless you have been under a rock, President Trump has long complained about the media, using the label fake news.
Mandating to local TV news directors exactly what stories they air and what they can’t from their corporate business superiors isn’t good.
There’s a difference between writing a story about the sale of the product — in terms of how much has been sold, what it cost to produce, and what are the hurdles and downsides — and one that just touts a product with little-to-no insight and perspective. Providing a link to buy the product makes it worse.
But if you want to label stuff as “news,” “advertising” or “content marketing,” go ahead. More insightful information is always appreciated.