News, SponsoredThere is nothing new about the news of news being paid for. I first became aware of this practice as a mass communication student in the early 2000s. To me, then, it seemed that it was not just news but the soul that is being bartered. The feeling still holds true.

Even this insignificant blog of mine, has been approached for ‘sponsored blogging’. Interestingly, when I refused the money and and gave them a counter offer: That they let me know of topics and ideas that would interest me and I would post about them for free. But it seems that they don’t like their work done for free. Strange, isn’t it?

Today there was an nice piece in The Sunday Express titled “News, Sponsored.” The contents of the article wouldn’t be surprising for people who are in the business of the media, we have learnt to take it in our stride. A necessary evil for some.

Friends in the Hindi news channels term such content ad ki khabar (ads as news) and they usually get preference over other genuine news content. Obviously so, because there’s money in it.

Such initiatives by the media organisations could be beneficial in these cash-strapped times, but the long term implications may be adverse. News is associated with credibility and when the credibility starts to wash off, so does the bottom line.

Or is it so? There are newspapers that don’t give much of a damn to credibility and still sit atop the readership figures. There are news channels that have ceased to be news channels but draw the highest TRPs. We all thought that it was just a passing fad and Indians will tire of such content and see the light. But the light doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon.

Even though being in the media (not the mainstream media, but a wing that’ll be the mainstream soon), I have started to rely more on the opinions of individuals who are unassociated with the media: the bloggers, the twitterers, the forums. I think I can still trust them. For me, professionally, it isn’t a good signal.

[Image courtesy: The Sunday Express]