Posted by: sarakroth | October 29, 2012

Journalism Ethics and Campaign Advertising

We are currently coming to the end of the most expensive presidential election campaign in American history. The candidates and independent Super PACs have spent well over $1 billion so far, and we still have a week to go.

For me, this week’s readings highlighted just how much the American presidential campaign has become a battle between brands. As “The Lie Factory” cites Whitaker saying in the 1940’s, “We assume we have to get a voter’s attention seven times to make a sale.” At this point, in terms of advertising, it’s almost as if Pepsi is running against Coke.

Even though I am disenfranchised by the state of election advertising, I still expect our media institutions to attempt to provide balanced coverage. The Equal Time Rule requires television broadcasters to provide equal opportunity for advertising airtime.

I always thought that newspapers held themselves to the highest standards in terms of journalistic integrity. More than any other form of media, I expect newspapers to provide balanced news coverage first and foremost. But the Seattle Times’ stunt of creating and running free ads for only one candidate in Washington’s gubernatorial election proves this view incorrect in one of the nation’s largest papers. The Times cited one reason for this move was to explore a new form of revenue generation.

As print journalism struggles to find revenue, can we continue to expect them to maintain the same level of journalistic integrity as they have in the past?

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