Should TV Journalists Question Political Ads On Their Shows?

Journalism should not be confused with content marketing, PR releases, or just false, manipulative stuff. But some stuff just won’t go away.

No matter what you see on digital media platforms, a hot stew of good and bad stuff still abounds -- all fertile ground for bad actors. Although news consumers are on high alert, it is still tough for media consumers to sift through the good, bad, mediocre and downright crazy.

Good news: Despite what you hear, there is generally far less iffy material on TV news shows and traditional media publications.

Among all this we have Deadspin -- the digital sports media publication -- which has evolved into a big, eye-opening revolt.

This past week, the entire editorial team resigned. No, not just a few renegade journalists. All of them, including the interim editor. Then on Tuesday, a senior digital publication executive, editorial director Paul Maidment, said he was headed for the door.



While there were stories about how Deadspin was pushing non-sports articles, all this was actually a revolt against a rising mess of auto-playing digital advertising that appears on the site.

Maidment was trying to rein in some 20 journalists and editors to stick with sports topics. He didn't want them to stray into stories about the political consequences of the NBA efforts to lessen a potential tussle with China, or NFL players kneeling as a protest during the national anthem.

All this raises more issues about advertising and content marketing woven into hard-fought journalism and opinion.

Would TV news journalists respond the same way? Think about next year’s election and what political ads might morph onto viewers' screens when tuning into cable TV news networks.

For a long time now, TV news shows have been re-airing TV political messaging as “content’ to make a specific point in their newscasts.

Now, we're waiting for the first on-air TV news journalist -- musing on-air after their networks return from a commercial break -- what kind of political advertising viewers just saw, and why it made an appearance on their show.

Is that questioning one's own news division from a content and/or business issue?

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow did just that recently when NBC News nixed Ronan Farrow’s story on sexual allegations about Harvey Weinstein. Recently departed Fox News anchor Shepard Smith voiced -- on-air -- criticism against Fox’s prime-time Tucker Carlson for his take on President Trump's impeachment inquiry.

Soon afterwards, Smith left Fox.

What comes next? Deeper stories -- not “state” -- that we haven’t seen yet.

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