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What price can you put on war reporting?


Authored by: Graeme McGilliard – Media Strategist


This morning, our daily news review took an unexpected twist. 

As well as being horrified by the latest Russian atrocity, we found ourselves debating at what point the advertising and news department need to review planned campaigns to protect trust in their own business as well as the reputation of the advertisers.

The Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Star – all part of Reach plc – featured a wrap around for Sainsbury’s. That means their front page story, the horrific bombing of a children’s hospital in Mariupol, was hidden behind a four page wraparound advert of how Sainsbury’s is price matching 150 fresh items with Aldi.

There would have been a time when the editor of the print title would have simply outvoted the advertising department who had struck this deal with Sainsbury’s, pushing commercial activity firmly into the margins.

Journalists have been restoring trust with the public with their on the spot reporting from Ukraine over the past two weeks. But advertisers risk undoing all of that good by allowing commercial gains to outweigh their role in society. 

How Sainsbury’s shoppers – and their PR team – will feel about the timing of the wraparound is unclear. How far ahead these promotions are planned versus how quickly they can be pulled don’t always line up. 

But what’s clear is that for journalists to build on the restored growing trust in their craft, we need their frontline dispatches more than ever – screaming real news from the front page and not hiding it behind a montage of supermarket bargains.

The result is that having a full page ad for Sainsbury’s risks undermining the vital role for news and information that the press is playing during the Ukraine conflict.

What price do we put on that?


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