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A tale of two news outlets

5 July 2017

If you're looking for online news from the two mainstream media outlets, you really only have a choice between Stuff (Fairfax) and the NZ Herald (APN).

Since the NZH "fixed" its website, I've been largely avoiding it for reasons that many Aardvark readers have already discussed in the forums. That only leaves the Fairfax Media site

Sadly, Stuff has shown itself to be a bit of a slut when it comes to pushing advertiser's messages in the guise of "news" and this week we saw an undeniable example of this which, coincidentally, revolved around a technology matter.

It seems that the NZH did report the news objectively and transparently -- but Stuff decided to turn it into what looks very much like a nasty piece of advertorial.

Read on and decide for yourself...

The story was about the way that Spark (nee: Telecom) has decided to put its weight behind 4G wireless broadband in favour of fibre.

Because Spark owns all the required infrastructure for delivering broadband by wireless, the profit margins on this option are much higher than for fibre (where Chorus clips a fair bit of the ticket).

Here is the NZ Herald's piece on the subject. It appears well written and explains the whys and wherefores of this strategy by Spark.

Now contrast that with this sales pitch advertorial from Fairfax's site.

Wow... can you say blatant advertorial only loosely disguised as a "story"?

This isn't even an objective review because I'm a Spark 4G broadband user and I can tell you that the arse has fallen out of speeds recently -- presumably as Spark begins to over-sell the service and contention becomes an issue. Both upload and download rates are incredibly "bursty" -- which may be fine for file transfers but for the kind of realtime stuff (such as video conferencing, Skype, Hangouts, etc) that we're becoming increasingly used to and for gaming -- the system has very real issues.

When you see this kind of blatant abuse of the Fourth Estate by Fairfax on a tech story you really have to wonder how much of the other stuff you read in this rag is heavily influenced by commercial imperatives.

If news websites think they are going to turn a profit by turning into the kind of cheap, give-away, advertorial rags that once littered the desks of company executives then I think they're going to be sorely disappointed. We can get advertorial elsewhere -- what will lead the road to profit is content which is accurate, objective, researched and trustworthy.

Sadly, it seems that the likes of Stuff are digging their own graves as they continue to blunder down the windy lane that leads to oblivion (wow, can I mix my metaphors or what?)

What do readers think... is this level of undeclared advertorial content acceptable?

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