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One of the many distinctions between paid advertising and editorial content in any reputable publication is that advertising space is for sale while editorial space is never sold. It’s just not done! Yet, some publications ignore the importance of keeping paid ads completely separate and distinct from the editorial product that must be based solely on objective and unbiased news judgment. There actually are publications that see no problem in offering vendors extensive editorial coverage in exchange for them running a certain amount of paid advertising in the same issue, often on facing pages. Although these publications do their best to make any such articles appear to be legitimate news coverage, they seem to overlook the fact that readers are not stupid. One banking publication, for example, produced a high-quality insert built around a “visionaries in banking” theme. A reader might expect to see articles by industry leaders espousing their thoughts on where the banking industry is headed. The articles in fact were thinly disguised promos for the publication’s advertisers. If that were not obvious enough on face value, across from each article, usually by-lined by a vendor CEO, was a full-page ad hawking the wares of that same vendor headed up by that CEO. What kind of credibility does any publication have that will trade editorial space for dollars rather than base its editorial product solely on news judgment? None! Readers of Credit Union Times, where objectivity rules, will never find paid editorial content in this publication. Nor will they ever see a paid ad across from a legitimate news mention or story that features the vendor that placed that advertisement. [email protected]

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Peter Westerman

Credit Union Times

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