Canadian ethicists turn thumbs down on sponsored content guidelines

Toronto, Canada – Writing ethics code guidelines for editors concerned about handling sponsored content issues is a waste of time. So says the Canadian Association of Journalists Ethics Advisory Committee. A recently released discussion paper declares that native advertising and other sponsored content formats are not journalism. Therefore, the committee considered it inappropriate “to provide best practices of ethical guidelines for sponsored content.”

As detailed in an article posted October 7 by iMediaEthics, CAJ contended that the way such content is produced, “the level of involvement of the private interest, or sponsor, may vary, but at the end of the day, its primary purpose is to enhance awareness and promotion of a particular brand or issue. Thus: not journalism.”

According to iMediaEthics, CAJ identified the two major ethical issues with sponsored content as deception and conflict of interest.  The full report can be read here.

(Editor’s note: CAJ’s accurate assessment of sponsored content ethical challenges may not apply to B2B staffs. In our case, editors may have more involvement in evolving marketing strategy. Therefore, ASBPE’s ethics committee should not ignore sponsored content considerations when drafting its next round of code revisions. What do you think? Let us know through our contact form.)

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