Editors must not blur lines between news & paid for copy
27 February 2018
The union has called on newspaper owners and publishers in Ireland not to allow those responsible for placing state sponsored advertisments to dictate the way in which so called advertorials are presented.
NUJ Irish secretary, Seamus Dooley, said he was "disturbed" to learn that pressure appeared to have been applied to have paid-for copy presented in a manner which did not make it clear it was sponsored by the government.
Seamus Dooley said:
"There is now no doubt that many editors were advised that paid for material should not be presented as advertising features. Whether the instruction came directly from the Strategic Communications Unit or from the adverting placement agency is immaterial, the impact was the same and arises from a desire to 'sell' a story.
"Editors must resist the pressure from advertising agencies and should not allow clear lines to be blurred. That pressure is all the more intense at a time when the media is in crisis, in terms of finance. We will defend any journalist or editor who is placed under commercial pressure to compromise editorial standards.
"The NUJ ethics code and the code of the Press Council of Ireland are clear on this point: news is the result of the exercise of editorial judgement, advertising is not the same thing.
"I note the comments of An Taoiseach in the Dáil today. These are unlikely to allay public concerns. I would suggest an independent evaluation, preferably by an external independent media expert so we can clarify what happened and ensure that lessons are learned."