Stuff fails disclosure test

There is an article at Stuff called Ten things you never knew about New Zealand’s birds.

As a bird lover I was interested in it, and read it. It’s an interesting article.

I then noted the author was Kimberley Collins, and I realised (as I knew Kimberley worked for ) that it is not an article by a journalist, but an advertorial by . But nowhere is it disclosed.

Now Forest & Bird and Kimberley have done nothing wrong. And the article is just promoting their Bird of the Year competition (and I have promoted it myself). But what is wrong is the didn’t put a statement on the article saying Kimberley is the online communications coordinator for Forest & Bird. If you did not happen to know this (as I did), then you would assume it is an article written by a journalist called Kimberley Collins.

Now in this case it is fairly innocuous, but my friends at Radio NZ Mediawatch always go on about the dangers of advertorials posing as journalism, or embedded content. And the key is it is fine, so long as it is disclosed that the author is not the newspaper. But in this case it wasn’t. And if it was say an article by a comms person for Bank of New Zealand on ten things you never knew about insurance, then I’m sure Mediawatch would be up in arms.

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