News media needs sponsored content - but it needs clear labelling

May 30, 2024

News media needs sponsored content - but it needs clear labelling

Sponsored content appears in various mediums across the news industry. Photo: Matt Bullock

While New Zealand news media is increasingly relying on sponsored content, more clear labels are needed to distinguish sponsored content from news content.

Sponsored content is paid for by an advertiser and published by a news organisation.

However, a recent Trust in News in Aotearoa New Zealand report found that almost 90 per cent of New Zealanders are concerned that news stories are spun for political or commercial purposes.

More broadly only 1 in 3 kiwis trust the news according to the same survey this was down from 42 per cent last year.

The survey also found that TVNZ specifically is less trusted by a figure of nine point four per cent.

On the other hand, the NZ Media Council says that they have not received any complaints about sponsored content in news.

Freelance business journalist Daniel Dunkley says that news outlets need to be clear in labelling sponsored content to avoid confusing their audiences.

“Digital publishers can distinguish sponsored content by clearly labelling headline links, the intros to articles and adding labels at the end of articles. They can also add brand logos.”

Seven Sharp executive producer Paul Moor says that while sponsored content has become more prominent on television and news sites, is not a new phenomenon.

“With the demise of local programming, and the slowdown in the advertising industry, [news media] had to look for new ways of making revenue.

“One of the ways of doing that is sponsored content.”

Moor says that paid content is here to stay especially in the current environment that news is in.

“I think realistically, in the current market, it's very hard to survive anyway and you've got to be open to all revenue streams.

“If the Government doesn't want to pay for a state broadcaster, then the state broadcaster has to wipe its own nose somehow, right? You've got to be able to make money.”

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