The age of the internet has no doubt seen a rapid blurring of the line between real news and commercial plugs for products to keep advertisers on side.
The news.com.au website regularly runs “lifestyle” news items that, at least to members of our media analysis teams, are little more than unpaid ads.
A classic example appeared this week with the big “news” that ice-cream maker Streets has – wait for it – produced a special version of its iconic Golden Gaytime in the shape of an Easter egg. (main picture)
For those who can’t wait to have a Gaytime in their mouth you’ll have to wait until March before getting one down your throat.
This big “news” appeared on dozens of “news” websites and even made an appearance in print in the Darwin daily the NT News (pictured).
Oh, and by the way, the Gaytime egg will only be available at Woolworths supermarkets, according to the stories.
Yes, that’s the very same Woolworths that spends squillions of dollars each week on advertising in what’s left of hard-copy newspapers across the nation and on internet news sites.
And seeing the very appearance of these ice-creams will make shoppers “very happy”, let’s hope Woolies staff have mops ready in case some customers piss themselves with the excitement of it all.
The previously mentioned news.com.au website regularly spruiks similar “news” stories – barely disguised ads in reality – about products appearing on the shelves of Woollies and its big retail rival Coles.
Unfortunately the relatively new online news site The New Daily appeared to have joined the club this week with a story about a new fast “click and collect” grocery-buying service to be offered by Coles.
At first blush it looked like a news.com.au-style plug for an advertiser. (pictured)
But in reality it was a genuine story about the development of such purchasing services in our nation’s grocery sector in the face of changing consumer behaviour and how the big players are responding.
Perhaps a more neutral headline is all that was needed.
It seems news may be a bit thin on the ground in Darwin these days.
What else explains the rather extensive treatment of a story about the discovery yesterday of a dead body on a city beach in today’s NT News.
The story took up most of the paper’s page 19 (pictured) and included a large photo of a police officer at the beach, presumably after the body had been removed.
Our thesis that real news may be scarce in the Territory, or at least in the pages of the NT News, was reinforced by the fact that the story shared the page with two small items including the previously mentioned story about the new Gaytime Easter egg.
We wonder why the story was given such coverage, especially when it told readers that police believed there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the incident.
To be perfectly correct the NT News said: “A body discovered washed up on Casuarina Beach yesterday morning by a dog walker ‘does not appear to be suspicious’, say police.”
We’ll have to take the word of the police about how the body looked when they saw it.
But we do tend to think that there may well have been some suspicions raised about how it got there.
You may accuse Sky News of all sorts of nefarious behaviour, but its latest ad campaign for its “after dark” shows – being run on a grand scale, perhaps for nothing, in News Corp turbloids – proves it is committed to truth in advertising. (pictured)
We tend to agree that they all offer “ideas and opinions you won’t get anywhere else”. Thank Christ for that.