The Radio Television Digital News Association has written up a set of guidelines for newsrooms to follow when dealing with native advertising.
Native advertising is the stuff that looks like news, whether online or on-air, but was done by an advertiser.
“The Federal Trade Commission defines native advertising as paid commercial “content that bears a similarity to the news, feature articles, product reviews, entertainment, and other material that surrounds it online,” says the RTDNA.
“It is the resemblance to journalism that makes native advertising both valuable and dangerous,” says RTDNA Ethics Committee Chair Scott Libin. “It’s valuable because businesses can get their messages published amid actual journalism. It’s dangerous because readers, viewers and listeners can mistake native advertising for news.”
The RTDNA says while advertisements like billboards announcing the sponsorship of a sports or weather cast have been around for decades, native advertising allows the advertiser to create and control the content.
While the FTC recommends being transparent about native ads, the RTDNA says, “transparency alone is not adequate. It does not entitle journalists to lower their standards of fairness or truth.”