Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

False Advertising. (off the Record)

Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

False Advertising. (off the Record)

Article excerpt

Let's say you sell cars for a living, let's say Fords. And let's say Ford has a new model coming out soon and you want people to know what a great new car you'll soon have for sale.

Now you also have a part-time job as a reporter for your big-city daily as the automotive reporter. Very few people in the metropolitan area know you sell Fords for a living. Everyone knows you as the car expert for the newspaper.

So you go and interview a fellow salesman at your dealership and he tells you what a great deal this new Ford is going to be. You write up the story, quote him liberally, put your byline on it, and pretty soon you're making money hand over fist selling the new model Ford.

Serious conflict of interest? You bet. In fact, if this would've happened at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the guy would've been fired in the blink of an eye.

Well, it did happen, and is happening, at one of the biggest newsrooms in St. …

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