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When Journalism Becomes Advertising

June 11, 2009

On Tuesday, June 9 the Grand Rapids Press ran a story on the front page of the “Your Life” section of the paper that was essentially a promotional piece for the new Sonic restaurant.

The story, entitled “Trendy & Tasty,” was written as a set of talking points about why eating at Sonic is such a good choice. The article tells you how to request music from the Sonic radio system, why it is fun to watch the servers on roller-skates, the best times to go there, and the fact that the shakes use real bananas. That the Press writer included the comment about real bananas being used was no doubt supposed to impress readers, even though it is really an indictment of the commercial food system, which is dominated by artificial foods.

It is not surprising that the GR Press chose to promote a chain restaurant in one of their news columns, but it is unacceptable that this passes as journalism. It would be a useful exercise to write the editors of the “Your Life” section of the Press and ask them how they can justify running such a story. The e-mail address is

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