Paid news could end the culture of organic public relations and prove detrimental for the fabric of society, feels Kanchan Shrivastav.
In recent years, the rise of paid news has become a worrying trend, and it could have far-reaching consequences for society. Paid news, also known as sponsored content, branded content or native advertising, involves a news outlet receiving payment in exchange for promoting a particular product, service, or ideology.
This practice undermines the integrity of journalism and erodes public trust in the media. If left unchecked, the malice of paid news could end the culture of organic public relations and prove detrimental to the fabric of society.
Paid news distorts the truth and manipulates public opinion. It blurs the line between advertising, marketing and journalism, making it difficult for readers to distinguish between the three.
Furthermore, paid news can stifle independent journalism and prevent important stories from being reported. News outlets may be more inclined to publish sponsored content, rather than investigating and reporting on critical issues. In such a scenario, the media becomes a mouthpiece for the highest bidder, and the public is left in the dark about important matters.
Paid news can also have a corrosive effect on public relations. Companies that engage in this practice undermine the value of earned media, which is coverage that is earned through organic means, such as positive reviews or coverage of newsworthy events. When companies pay for coverage, it diminishes the value of the product or service they are promoting and erodes consumer trust in the brand.
Thus the media must take steps to combat this practice by being transparent about sponsored content and clearly distinguishing it from independent journalism. The public must also be educated about the dangers of paid news and encouraged to seek out independent sources of information.