So much for the separation of journalistic church and state. After flipping through through the latest Barron’s, Douglas McIntyre at 24/7 Wall Street argues that, at best, several huge advertisers had advance notice of some of the publication’s stories this week:
Once a year, Barron’s publishes its “The Top 100 Financial Advisers List”….Most of the advisers on the list work at large firms like JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER), and UBS (NYSE:UBS).
The list may well be useful for looking at who does well giving advise to investors and how they think about the market. But, this year, in a full-page advertisement, Morgan Stanley congratulates each of its employees on the list. Even a casual observer would have to assume that the investment bank’s advertising and PR department saw the article well before it went to press.
News organisations are supposed to keep their advertising departments away from content until after it is published. Otherwise, it at least appears that commerce can influence content. That may not be true at Barron’s, but one would have hoped that the magazine would have seen fit to turn the Morgan Stanley ad down because it looks bad.
To make things a bit worse. Barron’s ran another section of stories about corporate jets. The articles were written by staff at Business Jet magazine and edited at Barron’s. Since the old Dow Jones publication is about investing and not the flying habits of the rich, the section looks like a way to pick up private aircraft ads. It seems to have worked. FlexJet, Falcon, and Jet Aviation all took ads.
In an interview, McIntyre says he thinks these changes are new. If so, one wonders whether the News Corp (NWS) regime has anything to do with them.
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