Friday, November 18, 2011

Decatur Patch sniffed out by StinkyJournalism.org

Posted By on Fri, Nov 18, 2011 at 12:40 PM

One of the ickiest (by which we mean ethically dubious) things a news organization can do is run an advertisement and attempt to pass it off to its readers or viewers as news.

Media watchdog site StinkyJournalism.org says it caught Decatur-Avondale Estates Patch doing just that.

T_Image_1760.jpeg
  • Screenshot from Stinkyjounalism.org via Patch.com

See, the AOL-owned neighborhood news site — which accepts articles written by, well, pretty much anyone — ran this piece about energy efficiency upgrades by a guy named Joe Thomas, who happens to be a "home performance consultant" for local energy efficiency upgraders Renewal System Solutions.

Granted, a hyperlink for Renewal System Solutions appears under Thomas' byline, but Stinky Journalism argues that it "just looks like a suggested link for readers — it doesn't clearly indicate a) that Thomas works for Renewal System Solutions or b) that Renewal Systems Solutions offers this very service Thomas is essentially 'selling' to readers."

After being called on the journalistic faux pas, Patch added a note to the article that says: "Renewal System Solutions is a Decatur-based company that provides comprehensive home energy analysis and energy saving upgrades. It has participated in DecaturWISE and Georgia Power's Home Energy Improvement Program" — but it still doesn't clarify that the author of the post works for Renewal System Solutions. Stinky.

H/T to @andishehnouraee.

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