One of the televisions at the gym Monday night was set on ABC World News. At the top of the broadcast, the anchor announced that tonight’s was a special edition of the program, brought to us by one sponsor to limit commercial interruption.
The lead story was about a new recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics for wider screening of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in children. The story included a family whose child took medication to control his cholesterol. The story also featured an expert who said he is seeing more evidence of heart disease in children. Certainly all bad signs for our nation’s health.
After a few more stories, there was a commercial break that included an ad from the night’s sponsor: Caduet®, a medication that treats high blood pressure and cholesterol. A medication that treats the ailments covered in the opening story.
Perhaps I’m too cynical, but did the folks at Pfizer® (the maker of Caduet®) buy the opening news story on ABC World News? As a marketer, I suppose I should be delighted that such a premium media placement is available (if you have the cash). But personally, I do not like the thought that news is so strongly influenced by advertising.
I acknowledge there are a lot of factors that determine how the media choose what each day’s news stories will be. And of course, the motives behind those decisions aren’t always pure. But there is a line between impartial journalism and revenue that should be sacred. Perhaps that “should be” is an ideal that just doesn’t exist in our world today.