Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Poison of "Sponsored Content"

Writers are the twenty-first century serfs, and the growing phenomenon of the only high(er than non-) paying writing jobs being in the field of "sponsored content" is another spike in the coffin of the freelance profession.  The amount of money corporations waste on marketing (from surveys to insultingly stupid advertisements) is staggering. Which merely gives rise to more ways that consumers can spend money to attempt to avoid advertising.  Which is why we love DVRs (for television programming), adblockers (for sane use of the internet), etc. New words that  I watch for on internet sites are "sponsored content" (other weasel words include "brand sponsors" and "featured partners")--which means advertisers are paying for the content, which is invariably favorable to their products.  I won't read any such articles. 

Here's an interesting "confession" by someone who wrote sponsored content.  The article is unbalanced, and sugar-coats some of the genres awful traits,  but some real truths emerge. 

Here are a few takeaways:

“Is there a future in journalism and writing and the Internet?” Choire Sicha, cofounder of The Awl, wrote last January. “Haha, FUCK no, not really.”

"the line between what’s sponsored and what isn’t—between advertising and journalism—has already been rubbed away"

"I should have emerged from my sponsored content gig with the kind of relieved rededication to my craft that would overcome . . .  Instead, though, my tour of the sponsored content waterfront permanently altered my own vision of journalism’s future—and not at all in a good way."