Commentary

Advertisers Must #BackdontBlock Trusted COVID-19 Media

You know the COVID-19 blocklists are causing a problem when someone right at the top takes up the fight.

That is exactly what has now happened as the new Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, has pleaded for advertisers to listen to the concerned calls from the newspaper industry and stop blocking ads appearing next to excellent journalism that is attracting record levels of audience interest but which features the terms "coronavirus" or "COVID-19."

Tracy De Groose, executive chair of the newspaper trade body, Newsworks, recently published a plea for advertisers to listen to the facts.

Two in three Brits are getting the news on COVID-19 from trusted news sources, compared to around one in three who are either listening mostly to the Government or just over one in five who are relying on social media posts.

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This means a little more than 3m extra people are reading a newspaper, online or in print, than at the same period a year ago.

She goes to great lengths to point out the great features that are out there taking a responsible look at the pandemic, helping with the fight against misinformation. The statistics and factual based argument then lead to the following clarion call.

"My appeal to advertisers is incredibly simple: please back, and don’t block British journalism by removing 'coronavirus' from your blocklists. #BackdontBlock."

The Guardian has already predicted that newspapers have already lost around GBP50m to prime advertising being directed away from articles shedding light on the big issue of the day.

Today The Guardian was warning of the implications of this ridiculous posture from advertisers to not support the country's finest journalism in spreading the truth about COVID-19 and dispelling the fake news that, in depends on whose figures you are looking at, around a half or a majority of Brits reveal they have already seen in social media.

The true cost could be a third of journalism jobs in the country being lost. Already this week we have seen the "Jewish Chronicle" and "Jewish News" close down.

So, advertisers -- there you have it. You can do the decent thing and support what the Culture Secretary has referred to as the "fourth emergency service" of journalism in this crisis. Or alternatively, you can continue to spray money at social media where the misinformation is spreading fastest. 

It's your choice -- but you know what the decent thing to do is. Lift the blocklist, at least for professional, decent media outlets, and support the fight back against misinformation.

If you make the wrong choice, you may still get a lot of likes and shares right now -- but you just might find a rather reduced service when you come to look at advertising in newspapers this time next year.

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