KSER's Ed Bremer interviews hundreds of people every year - Friday afternoon he spent a full hour in the studio interviewing Sylvia Anderson, the CEO of the Everett Gospel Mission.
Sylvia is also co-chair of the Community Streets Initiative, a task force focused on street level social issues - homelessness, drug use and other problems.
|Ed Bremer interviewing Sylvia Anderson|
And just like the hundreds of other people who have been interviewed on KSER, Sylvia Anderson didn't have to pay for the air time. Discussing these important issues is the type of community service that is the foundation of KSER.
It may sound like something from The Onion or Saturday Night Live, but, apparently, at least one commercial radio station has been charging a fee for news coverage. Not a fee for listeners, but a fee to the subjects of news stories.
The mayor of Nogales, AZ claims that news coverage and commentary about his city turned sour when the mayor took office and the city stopped paying the town's top radio station for news interviews.
Is that possible? A radio station making town officials pay for news coverage?!?
Oscar Felix Sr., the General Manager of KOFH-FM told The Arizona Republic that it's appropriate to charge for news interviews, but his station's financial arrangements with the city have no influence on news coverage and commentary.
The city is asking the Federal Communications to investigate. Is this just an extreme example?
A few weeks ago, several news sites reported that the online version of the Washington Post had placed links for Amazon products within the body of news stories. A Post official said it was a computer mistake and the Amazon links, normally placed in the margins of online stories, were inadvertently moved into the body of one story. The Washington Post is now owned by Amazon's Jeff Bezos.
How many times have you checked a news website and clicked on a compelling headline, only to realize it was actually an ad. Sometimes you see that small, faded 'advertisement' warning before clicking, sometimes you're click-bait.
The news business, especially traditional newspapers, are struggling to survive in the ever changing and immediate world of internet, mobile and social media news coverage. Having a staff of dozens of union reporters is challenging when you're competing with websites that are being operated with a skeleton crew and free-lance (or just free) 'reporters.'
But when the advertising lines become so blurred that the you can't tell the difference - or when traditional media starts charging politicians for news coverage - it should set off some alarm bells.
It's tough enough to know how much influence advertisers might exert over news outlets when they pay thousands of dollars for commercials or when major politically driven foundations dole out big grants to public TV and radio.
But, if the so-called watchdogs are beginning to charge 'newsmakers' for coverage, then how will citizens ever know the real story about much of anything?