Advertising as content in Washington Post

So, I was on the computer today when my mom showed me this insert from The Washington Post:

"China Daily", an occasional advertising "section" of WaPo that essentially fails to declare itself advertising.

I was initially concerned, and it’s still a little unsettling. After flipping through this little advertising number — including articles with a positive slant about the U.S.-China trade war, the World Trade Organization, global innovation — I almost wanted to gag. I mean, I’m sorry, but it’s kind of disappointing. I understand strategic communications and that innovation is necessary to keep the attention of consumers and readers, but I feel like this fails in being advertising as it pretends to be news. Ad agencies know that consumers can easily get confused about what is news and what is not, particularly now that the definition of news is changing. But blatantly using the news format as a way to subversively portray an image that may not be accurate—and let’s be real, China has a tendency to do this — is just downright bad.

Here’s the link to the “blog” on The Post’s website. Thankfully this “blog” declares itself a paid addition to the website, but it’s still just very uncomfortable to me. Now, it’d be unreasonable to jump to some conclusion that The Post and the People’s Republic are in cahoots, but this intentional blurring of the line between what is news and what is not is very concerning. Especially when it comes to international relations.

It’s good that they at least manage to squeeze in “AN ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT TO THE WASHINGTON POST” in a tiny margin on the top of the insert. I understand that a huge declaration of advertising would ruin the whole idea behind something like this. But the question, in my mind, really boils down to why a publication like The Washington Post would allow something like this. I know that advertising keeps this industry afloat…but really?

Thanks for clearing that up.

I’m not hounding The Post for their advertising strategies, because newspapers have to do what they have to do to keep advertisers on board and keep revenue up. But this just seems like a last-ditch effort to me.

The Nieman Lab did a study on this blog, and essentially asked the question, “Is it worth it to subvert traditional news journalism by using it as a format for advertising?” I know that the ever-feared ethical debate is so unappealing, but I really think this is ethically compromised. It’s disappointing.

There’s also a paid supplement for Russia in The Post, called “Russia Now”. Apparently it’s been there since 2007. I certainly am late on this news.

As journalism changes, I’ve become more open to expanding definitions of news and how it’s presented. But that doesn’t mean it should be compromised or compromise itself. If I’m going to pursue a profession where accountability is key, I expect my superiors to be pursuing the same goals. And this makes me doubtful.

A Columbia pizza joint with pizzazz

From its famous cups to its appearance as the nation’s best college hang out spot on the television show “Good Morning America”, Columbia’s Shakespeare’s Pizza is no stranger to fame. Founded in 1973, this local pizza joint has slowly but surely become one of the landmark food spots of the city for locals and visitors alike.

Shakespeare’s employee Kayla Miller was referred to an open position at the restaurant by a professor five years ago and has worked there ever since.

“I love it here,” Miller said. “We all hang out together. It’s like a family.”

Miller said her favorite part about working at Shakespeare’s is meeting all the interesting people that come in to eat at the restaurant. In a city granted the nickname “Athens of the Midwest”, Shakespeare’s is sure to continue its path in adding a little flavor to the local culture of Columbia.




Traversing trifecta

Here’s another video from a group of outdoors/journalist people. The videographers, as seen in their website Camp4 Collective, focus on a groundbreaking way to cover outdoors. Another website that takes on a more artistic approach to covering the outdoors, Rock Monkey Art, is equally inspiring. Cory Richard’s photos are beautiful as well, and I can feel the photojournalist inside of me yank at my heartstrings whenever I see his photos.

They do their work in such a distinctive and creative way that makes intimate the experience between the viewer and the ambitious outdoorsmen that are the subject of the video. I put up a video before, “On Assignment”, that one of the outdoors journalists created. I still have it bookmarked to watch it whenever I need a dual journalism and outdoors pick-me-up. My climber friend just sent me one of his favorite Camp4 videos, which is the one I put above. These videos are fascinating, and really can leave the most uninterested city slicker pining for a promenade through the woods. But what is most exciting is the ambition and drive that these journalists/outdoorsmen show for getting the word out and covering such intimidating things. People can be intimidated by free solo climbing or mountaineering or slacklining or anything that pushes the boundaries of what the human body can do and in what environments. But this group of people really makes the entire sphere of outdoors life appealing and applicable to everyone. There’s a hidden side to everyone that embraces the earth and the human body’s interaction with it, and this group is one of the best that is passionately and intensely pursuing spreading the wealth of knowledge and benefit of such a lifestyle.

Foreign correspondence

If this video doesn’t convince you why I want to do foreign correspondence, then I don’t know what else could. When I first started watching this video, I wasn’t exactly sure how I felt about the fact of the voiceover throughout the whole thing. But honestly, I think the lack of external noise emphasizes the essence of the video. I’ve wanted to do conflict journalism really ever since I became interested in journalism, and the Middle Eastern or Persian Gulf countries really stick out to me. This video manages to show the beautiful, raw side of a country that has become so riddled with violence and outside critique within the past decade. It’s a beautiful tribute to the Afghan people and an eye-opener to outsiders.

Food photography

Here’s another post from that NPR blog that I’ve started to follow. In this one, the blogger describes these innovative chefs who have transformed the idea of a date between meat-eaters and vegetarians/vegans. They went and created two dishes that look identical but both separately contain vegetarian- or omnivore-friendly ingredients. I loved that idea, but moreover, I loved the photography. But I’m always unnaturally attracted to food photography. I mean, it just makes the food look so…good. I interned at a photography studio in high school once and helped out with food shoots and ever since, I think food photography is so awesome despite how completely overdone and mundane it is. Yet, I think the food photography ring has advanced with new cameras and more importantly, new food to cover.

I mean, seriously, so cool. But again, I think I’m just crazy for loving this photography so much! And the food looks delicious. Maybe that can be a side project for me. Food photographer, anyone?

Left-leaning (and right)


So, in this post from an NPR blog, apparently, the second image is harder to follow. The instructions are to go through each drawn hand and mentally think of which direction each are pointing. I went through both of them really quickly! Maybe I’m some awesome super-genius. Or maybe I’m just crazy. It’s a pretty interesting post though. This blog is super interesting, too. How cool would it be to blog for NPR?