I’ve worked in the media a long time — in newspapers, magazines (both consumer and B-to-B), and online — and if there is one thing I’ve learned from all that experience, it’s this: you should never confuse advertising with content.
To put that another way, just because someone buys an ad doesn’t mean they get any special consideration when it comes to journalistic coverage.
Now, I know the cynics and skeptics out there will want to rush to point out examples of where that isn’t exactly the way it happens, and I agree that there are some media outlets that have no problem blurring the line (or fracturing the wall) between content and advertising. Yes, it happens and it is shameful and confusing when it does.
In my own personal experience, however, that hasn’t been the case — and I wouldn’t work somewhere were it was.
A highly newsworthy story
This is a long way of getting into something that I thought I should highlight and pre-emptively address before someone asks about it: starting today, there will be ads from the group SHRM Members for Transparency that will be running here on TLNT.
We have covered the back and forth between the SHRM Board of Directors and the Transparency Group in great detail over the past two years. In fact, TLNT was covering the story when no one else was (you can read the first few stories from 2010 here, here and here), and frankly, everyone else in the HR media space has been trailing TLNT’s coverage at just about every turn.
In other words, this has been a story we’ve been focused on for quite some time now, because it’s not often that you see the Board of Directors of an organization as large and prominent as SHRM get challenged by a group of equally prominent former leaders of that very same organization. That makes it highly newsworthy in my view, because such a high-profile challenge is not something you see very often.
My guess is that the SHRM Members for Transparency group has decided to advertise here on TLNT for the same reason most advertisers do — because they want to reach our readers and rapidly-growing audience. That’s just a guess, of course, because I don’t routinely talk to advertisers about why they advertise and can only guess at their overall thinking.
Ads have nothing to do with coverage
So, those ads you’ll be seeing from the Transparency group are really no different than any other ads you see here on TLNT. They have nothing to do with any coverage of the issues that have appeared here on TLNT in the past, nor will they have anything to do with how we’ll continue to cover the story in the future.
And by the way, the Society for Human Resource Management has also done some advertising here at TLNT in the past (I thank them for their support), and I hope they will continue to do so in the future. The difference is that SHRM does a great deal of advertising in a great many places and has done so for a long time, while the Transparency group has done very little, if any, as far as I know.
Have thoughts about any of this? As always, I’m happy to field any questions, queries. or comments on this topic, or, about anything else we do here at TLNT.