Fairfax journalists raise new complaints about advertorials

nbn supplement

The controversial NBN supplement

Reporters at The Sydney Morning Herald have accused employer Fairfax Media of failing to set standards around separating advertorial from editorial a year on from narrowly avoiding censure over an Optus- sponsored NBN supplement.

A resolution passed at a stop work meeting at the SMH on Tuesday cited a sponsored NBN “Special Report” which ran in The Herald and The Age 13 months ago.

The motion called for the union to work with the Australian Press Council to help “develop new standards of practice” in relation to sponsored content.  Last September the Press Council cleared Fairfax of breaching its rules, but warned that sponsored content needed to be properly labelled. The Press Council  also called for “specific standards of practice” to be developed.

According to the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the resolutions passed at the meeting this week said: “there is evidence this company is already not adhering to the standards it must adhere to in relation to demarcation of advertorial.”

The meeting also asked the MEAA to approach the Press Council.
Chris Warren, secretary of the MEAA, claimed the resolutions came about due to journalists’ frustration that Fairfax management were ignoring their concerns.
“This action is a reflection of the complete frustration of our members after exhausting every internal avenue of raising these concerns,” said Warren. They are producing more and more content with fewer and fewer staff. Yet senior management are treating them like mushrooms,” said Warren.
The resolutions and criticism from the MEAA come only months after the forced resignation of Fairfax business journalist Paddy Manning who wrote a piece for news website Crikey criticising the company’s Australian Financial Review for “creeping advertorial” and its close relationship to business.
Fairfax declined to comment.
Nic Christensen

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