Here’s how The Denver Post would look if it really hit the bottom

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

On the Center for Western Priorities' bog Friday, Erin Moriarty spotlighted a special advertising section that looks very much like the actual Denver Post.

Moriarty wrote:

Even the most seasoned Denver Post readers can be fooled by a new advertising ploy from oil and gas front group Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED), in which fake, industry-sponsored news stories are being published as part of a special “Energy and Environment” section on the newspaper’s website.

Each CRED-authored story uses the same font and layout as real Denver Post articles from real Denver Post reporters, undoubtedly attempting to pass CRED’s message off as real news. But, it’s not. It’s yet another paid effort that CRED is using to validate its now-dwindling credibility.

CRED is no stranger to promoting its message through paid advertising, as can be seen by the television, radio, online, and bus advertisements that the group has been running since its inception in September 2013. This time, the ad on Denver Post’s website boasts “news” about oil and gas development in the state, when really, the group is just peddling its own version of facts. In the “Energy and Environment” section on the Denver Post’s website, CRED’s advertorial features several stories on natural gas exports, local control amendments, and other energy issues Coloradans have been following for months.

The online version of the CRED ad is labeled in large letters across the top, "This Advertising Section is Sponsored by [CRED logo]." And "Advertising Supplement to The Denver Post" appears on top, in small, but not tiny, font.

Post reporter Mark Jaffe did the right thing by tweeting readers a warning about the fake content last week.

"Faux Denver Post. Industry group's paid article looks a lot a Post story — it isn't," Jaffe tweeted April 9.

The six-page print version of the ad supplement, which appeared March 16, doesn't even have the headline, "This Advertising Section is Sponsored by," and is over-the top deceptive, with the by-lined "articles" and news format, even though "Advertising supplement to The Denver Post" appears on top of each page in font equal to the size of the date.

The print supplement states that another "Energy and Environment" Section will be published April 20, next weekend.

The Post should use the same large-font "Advertising Supplement" headline in it's April 20 print version of its "Energy and Environment" ad supplement as it uses online.

So-called "sponsored content" like this is nothing new, and its use is on the rise, as newspapers struggle financially.

Newspapers could easily die whether they push fake news or not, but at this point, credibility is still the newspaper industry's most valuable asset, its point of differentiation from blogs, vlogs, Facebook posts, tweets, even local TV, etc.

The Post should take a clue from its own reporter, Jaffe, and do a better job warning readers about the fake content of its next "Energy and Environment" section.

8 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Diogenesdemar says:

    I'm suprised to hear it reported that the Post hasn't already hit bottom ?!?  . . . Still with the April fool's jokes, Jason?

  2. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    My dad would be charging up to the chief editor's office, crumpled up CRED section in hand. "What is this crap?," he would ask. They kept him on for 25 years because of his writing, not his diplomatic skills.

    It's OK for the Post to find creative ways to boost revenue…pimping pages to the oil industry doesn't count. That's deceiving readers. 

    At the least, the section should be boldly labeled "ADVERTISING – PAID FOR BY CRED".

    • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

      I saw that section and I had to really look to see that it was an ad.  If one looks through a copy of the Post these days it is hard to figure out why they're still charging their customers for it. I have done the exercize of pulling out all of the actual news bits from a typical copy of the paper and discovered that a 24 page front section can be reduced to about six pages of actual news. The rest is ads. What are the doing with all that money? Obviously not paying top-notch reporters or buying good sydicated content. And davebarnes, you're a cynic. I love print news and I think it's sad what's happening to it.

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        I agree with you, cook. But its early yet to predict the death of print. Everything is in at least two media these days – print and online, broadcast and blog, radio and website. What's missing from the former days of journalism is the one-media slot.

        What scares me is not the actual media changes, but the seeming lack of accountability to facts. But, this, too, is nothing new. "Yellow journalism" has a long and shameful history.

    • langelomisteriosolangelomisterioso says:

      Call it the Fux Noise model.Propaganda presented to look like real news.Not surprised to see the Post sink that low.Maybe not the absolute bottom but hovering just above it.It's also another byproduct of the decimation of the Glass-Steagall Act and the Citizens United/Mcutcheon decisions.ADVERTISING- PAID FOR BY CRED with an article explaining precisely who or what CRED is.

  3. davebarnesdavebarnes says:

    Who cares?
    Print is dying.
    The Post is dying and will soon be sold.

  4. Ray SpringfieldRay Springfield says:

    I thinbk that the Post has been very good at fake news for many years. There is a great book on the tepot dome scandal that involves Colorado and the RMN. I don't think that times have changed much. 

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