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Journalism as Advertising: The GR Press & Black Friday

November 17, 2009

On Monday the Grand Rapids Press ran as the lead front-page story an article about local retailers “leaking” their Black Friday Deals to the public. The headline of this story read, “Black Friday buildup begins.”

Both Meijer and Target spokespersons are quoted in this article about why they have decided to release their sale items early. The Meijer spokesperson said, “The indicators are saying retail sales in general will be flat for the season. We’re basically trying to amp up the game.”

In many ways you could argue that this story is nothing more than a glorified ad for both Meijer and Target stores. There doesn’t seem to be any journalistic value, since there are no other sources cited, sources, which might be talking about the current economic troubles or comments from working people who have limited resources for holiday shopping.

Instead, the Press story includes the website Gottadeal.com, which is essentially an advertising site. One wonders why the only daily newspaper in Grand Rapids would be compelled to report such a story, let alone make it the lead article. Considering that in the 16-page section of the November 16 edition of the Press there were already 5 ½ pages of advertising, there is no need to use limited space to “amp” up sales for big retailers.

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