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How brands secretly buy their way into Forbes, Fast Company, and HuffPost stories (theoutline.com)
358 points by coloneltcb 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 99 comments



Welcome to the news business. Even your local TV station receives its news directly from businesses, who often send multiple versions of the script to fit different time allotments. This is where "PR consultants" come into play - highly paid networking people who have the inside-track to, say, Walt Mossberg, and for a fee will happily send him your story and any related materials in the hope he'll decide it's worthy of publishing in his brand. Whether or not money makes its way to the news entity, and how that factors into their decision of what to publish, is an open question ... I'll simply point out there are economic incentives at play, and leave it at that.

Macro vision ... Americans get news and updates from two sources:

- "news" entities like the paper, magazines, television news, and their related websites

- advertisements

Only in the latter is it obvious that the viewing audience is being sold a product. In the former, it's absolutely still true, it's just less obvious.


I've worked on both sides of this, in both PR and as a journalist. What you're describing is perfectly ethical - as a PR I, of course would send journalists specific pitches tailored to what I thought were their interests, and make sure that they had all the material they needed to do minimal work.

As a journalist, I loved PRs who sent me interesting stories pitched at my interests and publication. Yes please - send them in. That didn't mean that I didn;t then do my job; speak to competitors, treat the pitch with a fair degree of scepticism, etc.

What's being described in the article is quite different - deliberate corruption of the editorial process.


In the case of HuffPo, their writers contact businesses asking for money to write stories. The stories are not marked as paid features.

Not giving details on HN but happy to send a bunch of email proving this if you're from a noteworthy publication.


You can tell yourself that, but it's completely unethical by the news organization and thus unethical for the company to create the temptation in the first place.


When I worked in local news I received those pitches. How else do you think news about local businesses gets to a newsroom? Do you think a producer is calling every business in town every day saying hey, anything going on today? This is really part of the broader problem: people don't understand how news works, but are more than ready to hop aboard a choo choo train of tossing around big words like "unethical."

The copy that a business would send us rarely made air. I know, because I was often the person who rewrote it.

Example: At a talk radio station I worked at a number of years ago, we received a press release from a person who was protesting John McCain's policies in a very particular way. It was very positive, and spoke of his mission, and blah blah blah. We had no clue who this guy was, but it tipped us off to a great story; we didn't cover it in the news portion of our broadcast, but the talking heads that evening had a very good time pointing out how ridiculous it was.

This is how news works. PR helps a producer by bringing their attention to something, because let's face it, omniscience is not a trait of local news producers. The producer might help PR with a bit of coverage, or very likely doesn't. (The fax machine at a local newsroom is hilarious to watch.) The angle that gets covered is occasionally not what PR wants. This relationship is push and pull.


There is nothing unethical about 'call me if you have news'.

However, having pre-written copy introduces vast amounts of bias by shifting how people are thinking about an issue. Thus, you can't rewrite it without first being influenced to think along similar lines. Now, one option is a simple firewall that prevents the person writing the story from reading original copy. More effort in the short term, but companies would have less incentive to try and shape the news for free press.


Your case rests on the assumption that journalists are incapable of objective thought, when objectivity is a primary trait of journalists.


Nobody is completely objective, to suggest that is to believe propaganda over reality which is again the opposite of objectivity.

PS: Really, pink elephants, now where you thinking about elephants or did I suddenly change your thought process... It is possible to minimize bias, but failing to take obvious steps suggests they are not even trying.


And so they call - and at that point they give you their careful crafted narrative. Is your objection really that they supply it as text.

As a PR I was initially astonished that my releases would be duplicated verbatim by journalists - and yet it happened, so I was clearly doing both my job and helping them out.


> but it's completely unethical by the news organization and thus unethical for the company to create the temptation in the first place.

Sorry, I'm not clear what you are suggesting is unethical.


Getting focus on an area of industry / interest is 80% of the battle, especially if the PR subject has saliency and recency.


The government has been know to do this as well, pay the big three newspapers to run stories especially regarding foreign policy, it's just business. This is why 'don't believe everything you read' is valid more than ever.


[citation needed] - the government has paid newspapers to run stories that were not advertisements?

Paid for logistics for reporters? Paid for placement? Bribed? Care to clarify?


There are lots of good examples here. One of the one's that's more entertaining is the CIA's role in popularizing modern art [1]. Modern art's reception was unnatural and driven largely by propaganda. The CIA saw it as an effective weapon in the propaganda war against the Soviet Union. It was supposed to emphasize the creativity capitalism and the free markets enable contrasted against the rigid conformity and authoritarianism of communism and state controlled markets. Finally, Rothko explained!

Quoting the article, "Dismayed at the appeal communism still had for many intellectuals and artists in the West, the [CIA] set up a division, the Propaganda Assets Inventory, which at its peak could influence more than 800 newspapers, magazines and public information organisations. They joked that it was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world.".

This played in synergistically with the Congress for Cultural Freedom [2] which was another government organization acting like an independent organization, but was just a CIA propaganda tool. Anyhow, this stuff takes decades to be declassified. It should be interesting seeing things like what was happening behind the scenes to build up the Iraq war. The ironic thing is by the time that's declassified - probably in the 2040s - people will think that it happened so long ago that it's no longer relevant to their issues of the day. Of course it is, and will be -- perhaps even moreso than today. As the apparent desire for governments to gain ever greater control and ever greater power -- mingling with media (in the general sense -- not just news) in covert ways will be ever more part and parcel of our brave new world.

[1] - https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/modern-art-was-cia-...

[2] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congress_for_Cultural_Freedom


Basically by being extremely cozy with reporters. Reporters who report on government happenings build contacts with people in government for leads. of course there is a quid pro quo in that the person helping them has their own motives, either on an individual (e.g. political) or government level.

If your government buddy in the State Dept. (who may himself just be a CIA agent) essentially does a lot of the "investigative work" on a major story for you by serving it on a platter, and there's an implied understanding that reporting against your buddy's narrative would end future help from the buddy, you're going to do write what he wants.


Well, you just backed from your initial saying "pay". That was a great concern, being "cozy", etc. is not so.


All three cases (and more) happen -- and anybody that believes it ain't so, or that "being cozy" (which can make or break careers worth of millions) is of less concern than direct bribe, probably also believes in the tooth fairy.

Among countless cases, some uncovered, some unknown: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/09/washington/09cuba.html

It's no new either: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mockingbird

And not just in news either: https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/hollywood-and-the-pentagon/


Why is cozy less of a concern? If you're in with the in crowd, you go places. That might mean socially and professionally. Both of these have financial implications, if finance is your main concern.


Cozy/informal incentives may be even more sinister. At least monetary payments have a hope of being tracked or spotted by someone. A wink-and-a-nod that in the future you'll get some juicy scoop or could land a cushy job somewhere else through a mutual contact if you run some story is pretty hard to spot.


Note that these are two different people.


> you just backed from

that's a different poster.

> being "cozy", etc. is not so

it absolutely is... "access" is a form of currency, sometimes an extremely valued one.

the impact of access is such that the behavior of mainstream journalists can be manipulated toward one's preference through reducing or restricting it (or threatening to do so) - provided there is sufficient value in said access, of course.


I tried to find the specific article that mentioned it but could only find ones that were vaguely similar [1] The gist of what I can remember is that the government (and entities like the CIA, FBI) would pay to push certain stories, sometimes submit editorials that would be printed regardless, etc... Usually to build support for foreign policy (push that the middle easy was bad, China evil, communist Russia bad), etc... mostly propaganda-ish content to slowly sway US citizens mindset. I wish I could find the article, I believe it was between 7-10 years ago...

Sort of similar to this as well [2] (very hard to search for 'government pays NY Times, Post WSJ' or 'Pentagon articles in newspaper' etc.... So many results that are not related in whatever search bubble google has me in

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/1977/12/26/archives/worldwide-propaga...

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/us/20generals.html


What you suggested in your previous post is incorrect. You wouldn't have trouble googling it if it were true and known. Maybe you are confusing it with this change to the law in 2013:

http://www.businessinsider.com/us-domestic-propaganda-offici...

The closest thing to what you suggest (and it is not that close) is probably Judith Miller's Iraq reporting for the NY Times, but that's mostly down to her incompetence.


> You wouldn't have trouble googling it if it were true and known

I disagree, or maybe Im just poor at searching but terms like "NY Times, government, paying, publish, stories, CIA" I get so much non-relevant search returns its impossible to separate the whet from the chafe. It was also many years ago, so Im sure search bubbles these days will tend to return stories that are newer as a default. The story I am remembering is definitely different from the one you recommended. I wish I could find it, it was a fascinating read at the time.


Foreign Policy is more a matter of experts funded by agencies and think tanks (more political again) trying to shift the debate in the community.

Not sure it's of major relevance right now, when Trump does stuff that is not the common wisdom of the FP crowd, but normal behaviour should resume sooner or later.


The government has paid TV networks to promote a specific "viewpoint" in non-news TV shows:

https://www.salon.com/2001/06/30/ondcp_4/


Highly recommend reading Manufacturing Consent: https://www.amazon.com/Manufacturing-Consent-Political-Econo...


> Paid for logistics for reporters?

See "embedded war correspondents" from anything after Vietnam. Iraq 1 is probably still the war machine's most spectacular TV production.


This is not how the news industry works, at all. Have you ever worked in media?


I used to work for a media production company that was hired by various non-profits to pitch their "story" to local TV news departments (nationally).

We would create a Betacam tape of B-roll, have a written synopsis and other relevant details, and after cold-calling news editors (we had a book we purchased yearly with their contact info), we would FedEx them the package of content, and follow up w/ an additional call after delivery conformation.

It worked well. Although this was some time ago.


I'm surprised no-one linked to pg calling it a dozen years ago: http://www.paulgraham.com/submarine.html


+1


I don't think this is any secret, and it's why I support outright banning these types of sites from HN submissions. They never have anything remotely unique or insightful, it's just dog piling on the controversy du jour, or expounding some extremely simplistic, cliche take on a complex topic . It's no coincidence that these are the worst offenders when it comes to paywalling and punishing adblock users either. Their entire business model is predicated on clickbait, so the actual content is secondary.


How do you know which sites sell product placement? Are you %100 sure that NYTimes does not? What about theoutline.com? Do you KNOW that they don't?

I happen to be familiar with the book publishing industry in my country, and I know that many journalists will publish an article on a book written by a publishing houses PR manager, just to save themselves the effort of writing an article themselves. And these are the biggest newspapers in the country.


I've wondered about the spectrum of behaviors/relationships that exist in PR. This article describes one end of the spectrum: straight-up pay for play. What is the slightly-less-outrageous behavior? Do big PR firms take people out to expensive lunches or get them floor seats at Knicks games (much like salespeople woo potential clients)?


A much cheaper solution: send reporters or newsdesks article 'helpers'. Basically, provide a list of bullet points which can be trivially fleshed out into a human-interest article, chosen and ordered to produce the story you want.

If you have a synthetic diamond company or something (that's a fake example), you don't really need to bribe your way into the headlines. You can just provide a ready-made skeleton for an article about how lab diamonds are indistinguishable from natural diamonds, and spice it up with some stats about how they're a huge hit with millennials. You can even get your company into the story by providing a juicy quote, which will of course be sourced as "Joe Schmoe from LabDiamondsAreUs says..."

I've seen this operation happen from both ends, and it works eerily well. Harried writers are grateful for content that's easily converted into deadline-beating stories, and as long as the topic is relatively low-consequence they don't feel much need to cross-reference or seek dissenting voices.


I get these all the time from SV startup PR firms. "Story Idea: 5 innovative new uses for Docker/Containers/Mongo" etc. it's one of the fastest ways to ensure I never write about something.


So if a PR firm is working for Startup A and pitches a list that includes Startup A-E, then you wouldn't write about any of them? Or can you tell in advance who is paying the bill?


They way it goes is that the PR firm sends me a basically fully written story, and offers to get me on the phone with one of their marketing folks to get a quote.

Sometimes, it's just a press release, but with a bunch of prewritten social shares for me.

Here's an example, anonymized. I got this 2 weeks ago - https://pastebin.com/xwjiUhwS

Not egregious, in this case, but, pretty presumptive on the part of PR.


I guess, on reflection, the behavior that seems most frustrating is pitching it as a "Story Idea". I would prefer to have had "An offer to speak with CEO of XYZ". But, in fairness, as an analyst I have slightly different priorities that the average journalist. (not saying they're better priorities, just different)


This is from my own understanding, which might not be correct, but had friends in this field.

So papers and magazines need to fill pages, so that a they have a product and b hey get advertising revenue.

So pr is half about building a great relationship so you can get them to put in your 'good stuff', the easy sells, but them also having them be on your side to run your duff stuff - getting you in at the last minute or pushing a product that isn't all that. But generally the lunches and drinks and even holidays were about relationships and a small amount of 'gifting' - but at the end of the day the journalist can always turn you down. But then they might not fill all their pages. And that really is what they are paid to do.

But in terms of the freebies, it's just as you say - gig tickets, lunches, samples, goodie bags, holidays - but don't forget that most of these things will have you with the PR person, not alone - so not like you can take your partner etc. Though the gifts you usually can take home and keep. The paper/magazine aren't that interested in them.


Exactly. There are much less explicit ways of gaming the system once you're connected. Friends help friends. Just like so many jobs are filled through referrals, lots of marketing takes place through professional connections.


Get banned from future unveilings unless you write nicely about current products?


Happens to film critics, apparently:

> Disney’s behavior is not entirely abnormal; many entertainment journalists and critics have experienced some kind of retaliation in the past. Publishing a negative review can, in some cases, make it harder for an outlet or individual critic to get an interview or an invite to an advanced screening in the future.

https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/11/7/16617394/la-times-disn...


In the fashion world the standard practice is: "You buy an ad in our magazine, and we can guarantee a placement of your product in one of our editorial stories."


I suspect that readers of fashion magazines are OK with that for the same reason that people used to read the Sears catalog: you know they're selling you something, but it's stuff you want to buy.


This is known in the industry as an advertorial and they have been common for a very long time. Especially in trade journalism.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advertorial


I've heard it referred to as "Native advertising", but Wikipedia tells me that the two aren't necessarily the same.


Native advertising is advertising designed to fit the aesthetic of the medium. It isn't necessarily intended as deception, but easily can be. It's more like if a publication or web site doesn't want the ads they host to be horrible intrusive or ruin the look and feel they have worked so hard on. The side effect is that it looks like it was made by the publisher.


Wikipedia being demonstrably independent in this matter ...


Does Wikipedia accept money for advertisements?


The worst part is that in order to avoid detection of their schemes, these writers tend to stick to big VC-funded startups. Nobody ever got fired for mentioning Uber, Lyft, Tesla, AirBnb in an article... This makes the economic environment impossible for bootstrapped startups to compete in.


Thankfully, Hacker News has no business interest.

Wait...


To all the people who say they knew it all along. Congrats.

I didn't, and seeing it presented like this is horrifying. It really begs the questions do we even have a legitimate media, and not a mercenary media that kneels to the highest bidder.


I only realized quite recently that you cannot trust many of the highly ranked sites on Google. I got into contact with highly ranked sites that feature content in area of business I am involved with including having features on some competitors. I get in contact to ask them to consider looking at what we offer and see if it's something their audience would be interested in. I'm asked for a bribe immediately, sorry, an upfront fee, there's no hiding it or anything, it's brought up in the first email. Google says they don't rank paid links highly but despite what they say I know they do. It's all a load of nonsense. I didn't realize quite how bad the situation was until recently though and only because I have a business myself.


... and then is it really "the press" that the Founding Fathers envisaged, and if not should it be protected by the First Amendment?


Stop. I'm not a believer in slippery slope arguments, but given the fact that our president has chosen to do his best to undermine the media and by extension the first amendment, I'm strongly disinclined to add fuel to that fire.

The press has almost always been biased and truthy. Look at William Hearst. But it's still critical to our republic.


Wow:

> “To be fair I was in the wrong, but it really hurt to see that relationship come undone from an outside attack,” he said. “It was a huge setback and I've learnt my lesson.” Maybe the lesson was still setting in, though, because Chong then appeared to offer me a bribe of his own. “Is there any way we can set up a partnership together to distribute content?” he asked, in the same email. “Happy to explore remuneration.”


If this worries you, read, "Trust Me, I'm Lying" for more frightening insights into the world of journalism:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0074VTHH0/


I bought the kindle version last night based on your link, and finished reading it this morning. Its a real WTF wakeup call.

This quote really stuck out to me. "In the pay-per-page view model, every post is a conflict of interest."

Really frightening stuff.


Great book!


Uber buying stories on slashdot a few years ago, which resulted in an Uber promoting story every other day, was the reason I gave up on slashdot.


Source?


I would love to see a plugin that counted brand references in a writer’s history to expose this kind of thing.


It's usually quite obvious if you know where to look. The articles usually start with some trend or other and the source in question gets inserted 1-5 paragraphs later. Either the CEO gets quoted or the brand gets mentioned or research from the institution gets quoted (if it's a think tank).

Bearing that in mind, if you read, say, this article (currently at the top of BBC news 'capital' section), it ought to be fairly clear which institution was responsible for its existence:

http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20171206-should-we-drop-the...

(although the 'why' might take a bit more digging)

I've noticed that pointing out PR sources for stories submitted on Hacker News story comments tends to attract aggressive downvoting and flaggings though.


More powerful yet: be able to generate a graph of brands and references, with frequencies/weights assigned, so you can spot the shills.

E.g., what products does X write about, who else does, do they cover the competition as well?

Being able to assess positive/negative coverage would be even better.

I have some thoughts in mind.


I’m more of a product guy than a dev but if you ever start moving in that direction, let me know. Happy to provide some thoughts.


That article page had a giant whiskey advertisement in the middle of it for me. I think I'd probably prefer to read about a topic someone was paid to write about than have intrusive ads I don't care about shown to me in the middle of otherwise interesting content.


Wow, that whisky ad totally fooled me. I though it was part of the article, an illustration of a typical crass product placement. I let my defenses down for one moment, and now I'm already halfway through a bottle of whisky!


It should have been a "Your Product Here!" placeholder.


I hit back as soon as I saw the top of this add. There was more below? :-/


I have that response to ads and the scumslop (Taboola / Outbrain) crud that shows up on pages. I've got adblockers, and block the domains as well.

Was reading a story on how the media undermine itself with a bunch of examples, and even re-reading the article and knowing these are part of the story, my response is to click to block, or assume that I've reached the end of the article, when I see that stuff. It's just toxic.

Good piece though. Sean Blanda, "Medium, and The Reason You Can’t Stand the News Anymore", Jan 2017:

https://medium.com/@SeanBlanda/medium-and-the-reason-you-can...


The paid article I can at least choose or reject on the face of it from the headline.


Recommended reading on the topic: Trust Me I'm Lying - Confessions of a Media Manipulator.



Another one is Edward Bernay's Propaganda, published in 1928. A chilling read about how to manipulate the public, I think most of the PR strategies used today can be traced to this book alone...



I assume that this is how all news that isn't either an AP wire or investigative deep dive works. The payment is just often in other forms (continued access, future employment, influence, coveted invitations...)

Difference is that startups by definition often lack the influence, status, and/or wherewithal to pay for coverage in anything other than cash.


Accepting cash for links?? That should be the Google Death Penalty for all of them. But I doubt that's going to happen, these sites probably sell a lot of ads for Google.


Check your sources. is the author marked as contributor? -> find their twitter account and check the background. Most sites have open editorial, or blogs, or contributor's section. More sites will have open editorial sections as the journos are laid off each day. And again check the source.


It's not a great fix, though, because less-blatant PR groups just send out draft stories or note lists which can be easily converted into news stories. So even professional, non-bribed journalists who need a quick piece will often end up writing the obvious story based on someone else's script.


The practice is old, but that doesn't mean it's not corrosive.

In the early 1990s, "fake news" referred to the practice of packaging up VNR and AVR bundles, generally for local broadcast stations. These are Video and Audio News Releases, which are fully produced, including fake reporters, generally covering some corporate news. Sourcewatch has a good overview:

https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Video_news_releases

And several source articles:

https://www.prwatch.org/fakenews/execsummary

https://www.prwatch.org/fakenews2/execsummary

Hamilton Holt's 1909 book, Commercialism and Journalism, tells the story of the incredible growth of the publishing industry, fueled by six factors, but to which Holt (a publisher himself) credited advertising for virtually all of it. And to which he had extreme and justified concerns. He quotes another journalist:

There is no such thing in America as an independent press. I am paid for keeping honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. If I should allow honest opinions to be printed in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation, like Othello's, would be gone. The business of a New York journalist is to distort the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the foot of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. We are the tools or vassals of the rich men behind the scenes. Our time, our talents, our lives, our possibilities, are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.

https://archive.org/details/commercialismjou00holtuoft

This from a lecture series at the University of California, Berkeley, on the Morals of Trade.

The (very long form) New York Times piece on Harvey Weinstein's abuse, and control, over Hollywood and the press, is another cautionary tale of power and its capacity to manipulate (and suppress) information.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/12/05/us/harvey-wei...


Nothing new here. I noticed it with the computer magazines in the 80's, and I'd be surprised if that wasn't a century old practice.


And gangrene's been around as long as humans.

"Nothing new" doesn't mean "horrible practice".


Erm, doesn't mean "not a horrible practice".


There's the thing, how can you tell if a computer magazine's article was paid for or not? The distinction is hard if not impossible to do sometimes.


When the article read like a press release for the company's product that had full page ads in the same issue, using similar phrases and mentioning the same points.


Disturbing, especially given the difficulty (almost impossibility) of detection.


Um...isn't this how pretty much all media works?


I'm not surprised, figured it was pretty common.

As an aside, there is a guy who is very popular on Medium. He made a course on how to be a more successful writer. One of the 'benefits' of his VIP version was that he would write an article about you and put it in Huffington Post or other similarly rated publications.


Let's find an algorithm that can reliably detect this junk and turn it into a browser extension.


To be honest, I didn't think this had been a "secret" for quite a while now ...


This is really similar to the way lobbying works in government. Most lobbyists aren't blackmailing or directly buying government officials (that happens, but is often illegal and, when legal is wideley considered unethical, even among other officials, at least in the USFG). Instead, they're educating them. A typical, say, US senator doesn't have a staff that can be thoroughly expert on every topic on which that senator might need to take a position. Those topics aren't limited to things that might be affected by legislation; they also include things that might be asked of the senator in a news conference, etc. This is overwhelming, even for an extremely well-staffed office, and many offices are quite minimally staffed in non-election years.

Enter lobbyists. Their pitch isn't that they're unbiased, or that they're going to give the hypothetical official a huge kickback, future job, or secret bag of cash under the table (this sometimes happens, which sucks, but is not inherent to the practice). Rather, the pitch is that, while they are biased, they will inform the official about a topic they wouldn't otherwise know--or even know they needed to know about! Consider an about-to-break scandal in a weapons manufacturer that has been manufacturing malfunctioning guns, or some other relatively obscure topic (e.g. something massively overshadowed in the officially staffed military-research department by, say, headline items like the F-35 fighter expenditures). A lobbyist for that weapons company visits an official's office and gives them a rundown on how that company works, why its practices are (supposedly) ethical, how the malfunctioning gun works, et cetera. Now, whoever is listening to this pitch (and many/most lobbyists aren't heard directly by the senator/official who runs an office) knows this lobbyist's bias, but they also know that this is valuable information, because the choice is between knowing nothing of an area and being, albeit biasedly, prepared for upcoming press-ambush questions or similar. This can also help direct in-staff research.

Now, is this harmful? It definitely can be. But just like the PR-provided "journalism" discussed in this article, it may also be the only way that some information, however biased, gets into print in the first place. Given that most people don't (or don't have time/resources/ability to) do independent primary-source research on anything that might be newsworthy, I'm not prepared to universally condemn this practice.

Aside: there are a few limited alternatives for USFG officials to get information from. The Congressional Research Service can prepare briefs for offices who don't have the staffs to research on their own, and there are many other similar options, but you still have to know what to ask for information about. Vested interests (lobbyists) are very good at filtering for relevance . . . to their own interests, which is sometimes better than nothing.

There's also no reason constituents, or groups thereof, can't request an appointment with an official's office to convey info, just like lobbyists. Lobbyists are often given preferential treatment in such situations because they're known to be useful and informative (though there are certainly plenty of cases where they're given that treatment because they're offering kickbacks and take advantage of corruption and/or greed on the part of the people they're meeting with). Again, I'm not defending lobbying in all, or perhaps even most of, its forms. But I do think that lobbying, or PR-provided news, are not inherently unethical practices.

EDIT: so many typos.


Not really clear why this is a "surprise" unless that has been manufactured for excitement purposes. The articles in any single-line publication are all essentially ads.

Consider the travel, fashion and car sections of the newspaper: do you think they are really funded by the paper? Back when I got a newspaper on mushed up trees we always chucked those sections in the bin when fetching the Sunday paper. The sport section is pretty much ads too.

So I assume that almost all the articles in "business" or "tech" are essentially placed. Some sites wear their allegiance on their sleeve, which sometimes, ironically, makes them more impartial (I consider Ads Technica an example -- their apple coverage is for and by apple enthusiasts, by and large, but on that basis, ironically, can be critical of apple).

Then again, even in mainline news, someone chooses what to report on, and really they aren't impartial.


> Not really clear why this is a "surprise" unless that has been manufactured for excitement purposes.

Compare the reaction to current article with the reaction to this story from 2010:

https://techcrunch.com/2010/02/04/an-apology-to-our-readers/

That was one of the biggest stories from 2010, whereas this is a million times bigger and no one even cares.


You need to get a better sense of what “average” looks like... this would be news to many people, just not on HN.


I agree. I think a different tone would be more valuable here...like something on why this is acceptable. We should all be ashamed for letting our world stoop so low, time and time again.


What do you mean by single-line publication? I've tried searching but don't find a definition.


lobbyists write our laws

PR reps write our news




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