[영남시론] The end of knightly advertising

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Yoo Young-cheol, former editor-in-chief of the Yeongnam Ilbo

‘Contract to export 50,000 electric motors to the North American market’ ‘Expansion of a 5,000 pyeong factory in Pyeongtaek’ ‘Opening a full-scale electric motorcycle era’… .

Investors flocked to see the ‘articles’ of such headlines published in newspapers (mainly business magazines) from February to May. It is known that about 200 people invested 10 billion won. However, the company called ‘Benodi Global’, which was expected to be listed soon, was a fiction with no substance. Export contracts and factory expansion were fraudulent. It’s a recent incident.

Articles in the form of articles are not articles. It’s advertisement. However, it is easy to be deceived as an ‘article’ because it is not marked as an ‘advertisement’. The name is also called ‘article advertisement’, which is a mixture of articles and advertisements. Originally, the article was written by the reporter, checked and covered, and it is published in the article column, and there is no payment for writing the article. Reporters are also responsible. On the other hand, paid advertisements reflect the needs of advertisers and are placed in the advertisement box, and the media is not responsible. Whether to trust it or not is up to the reader. However, in the article-type advertisement, the article is published as an article by attaching a title such as a headline and a subtitle, adding a photo, and even the reporter’s byline, even though it is not an article, in the place where the article is published, not in the advertisement space. He is a pseudo knight who creates the illusion of being a knight.

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Academia estimates that it was first published in an American comprehensive magazine in 1951. In Korea, it is believed that it appeared for the first time as a measure to combat the deterioration of profitability of media companies after the IMF in the late 1990s. However, before the MB government in 2009, to protect readers, if you do not distinguish between articles and advertisements, you can be fined up to 20 million won. However, in the same year, when the MB government was in power, the GNP revised the newspaper law and secretly deleted the punishment clause. It has become a law with no rules but no punishment. It was the media’s retreat. Article-style advertisements are on the rise. It was the fall of the media.

Last year, as a result of a survey of 118 offline types, including 68 types of paper newspapers and 50 types of magazines nationwide, the Korea Advertising Review Organization found 11,342 article-type advertisements. This is an increase of more than 4,000 cases from 6,979 cases in 2020. 3 famous central and 6 business magazines were included in the top 10. There were also central newspapers with few article-type advertisements. Compared to local newspapers, famous central and economic magazines mostly violated regulations such as the Newspaper Act. By industry, distribution, construction materials, food, financial insurance, and medical services were followed in that order. There were many cases of violations such as ‘not displaying advertisement’ and ‘expression that induces misunderstanding of articles, such as ‘insert ○○○ reporter in advertisements’.

Newspapers are overflowing with article-type advertisements, and news-type advertising specialists and agencies are also booming. It is said that the ‘corresponding article (article-type advertisement)’, which was the tool of the above fraud case, was traded for 200,000 won per case. The 10 billion won damage caused by the 200,000 won per article advertisement, who is responsible for it?

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Article type advertising is unethical and anti-media. It makes even reporters who are passionate about covering real articles distrust. Journalists are busy professionals chasing deadlines. You may not be unaware of the operating conditions such as the newspaper’s profit structure, advertising business, etc. However, reporters will not be able to overlook the harmful effects of article-type advertisements. You won’t be able to stand still. The media, engrossed in commercialism, are too far out of their reach. Article advertising must end. Reporters need to step in before they come back as a boomerang. Citizens may stand up to punish the media for selling pseudo-articles. The media may be held accountable for that. Yoo Young-cheol

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