Denver Post strengthens sponsored content designation on energy section

April 17, 2014
Category: Uncategorized

Center for Western Priorities | ThinkProgress | Wonkette

Following articles that said a Denver Post-sponsored energy section wasn’t marked clearly enough, Post President and CEO Mac Tully told Poynter in an email the paper decided to “strengthen the sponsored content designation and included a definition of custom content.” Tully said he hadn’t “seen one complaint that misunderstood the content to be Denver Post generated.”

The change comes after reports in several publications about the “Energy and Environment” section, which is sponsored content from Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development, a group formed by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Noble Energy “to provide scientifically sound information about fracking.”

The section looks too much like regular Denver Post content, Erin Moriarty writes for the Center for Western Priorities: “Advertising is, of course, crucial to newspapers’ existence, but there is a line that has been crossed.”

A “former Denver Post staffer who asked not to be named” told ThinkProgress’ Katie Valentine, “If I weren’t a journalist, I’m not sure I could tell the difference here.”

(As long as we’re discussing the Post’s decisions, why on earth did ThinkProgress let a former employee zing his former employer under cover of anonymity? “​​The source was concerned about the impact of commenting publicly on his current employment,” TP Editor-in-Chief Judd Legum told Poynter in an email. “We wanted to try to get various perspectives in the piece and thought it was valuable to include.” Here’s more of me spouting off about anonymity.)

Tully said the paper’s “goal is to be just as clear online as we have been in the print editions by clearly designating the custom content as advertiser sponsored. We feel that’s the key to maintaining the separation of news and paid content.”

In a funny post about the section, Wonkette’s Doktor Zoom made a discovery about the section: “If you have Adblock Plus turned on, everything but ‘The Denver Post: Energy and Environment’ is blocked out.”

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