The Wall Street Journal Editor Says Native Advertising Is a Deal with the Devil

We never pegged The Wall Street Journal managing editor Gerard Baker as a theater major, but he went all Shakespearean on the New York University journalism school crowd last night when he described native advertising as a “Faustian bargain” between brands and publishers.

He’s one of the holdouts who thinks that publications must maintain a strict wall between promotional and editorial, and he believes that the WSJ and the brands that want to use it as a promo forum will both lose out if the paper goes native:

An advertiser wants to advertise in The Wall Street Journal to be seen and to be associated with a brand like The Wall Street Journal, or The Financial Times or Bloomberg, because those news organizations are respected. If [advertisers] manipulate the digital or print operations of those news organizations, it makes the reader confused as to what is news and what is advertising, and the reader’s trust, the very reason that those advertisers want to advertise in those news organizations, goes away.

Valid point. He also thinks that brands will eventually come to their senses and realize that the traditional relationship between publisher and advertiser works just fine.

Baker grudgingly respects some of the work published by big traffic sites like BuzzFeed and Business Insider while insisting that most of the newer players in the business journalism game deal in “rumor, gossip and information gleaned from someone talking to them in a bar” (not that fellow News Corp. properties Fox News and The New York Post would ever do anything like that).

*Hat tip to FishbowlNY for this one and to Capital New York for the original report.