The U.K’s Independent is a good newspaper – it’s fairly progressive, attracts good journalists, and is a decent read. I check in on it infrequently (it doesn’t quite match the standards of the Guardian though), and it is a pretty good source of information.
However, a recent piece breaking the news of a shockingly bad hospital in the U.K, I noticed a link at the bottom of the article. The link led to an advertisement for private health care. Check it out:
“Analysis of board meeting minutes suggests it spent little time
discussing and challenging information in relation to poor quality of care
for patients. The trust board must assure itself that quality of care
remains at the top of its agenda.”
Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “I am extremely disturbed by
this news and the effect that these shocking conditions may have had on
patients. It is unforgivable if any lives have been needlessly lost.”
The advert isn’t a banner ad served by a third party, but is a direct link that follows an article slamming the British National Health Service, obviously playing on the fear it generated with tales of blood stained curtains, spiraling death rates and atrocious hygiene.
While the paper was absolutely correct in naming and shaming the hospital, to plug private insurance companies afterward is pretty shameless.
You’ll notice that every now and then, health insurance ads run across The Daily Banter. Sometimes insurance companies purchase ad space, and my ad server runs them. Usually, if I catch it in time, I take them down as I believe private insurance companies should have nothing to do with health care. However, I am a one man band, and it is hard to check every ad running across my site every minute of the day.
Above all, I don’t use my posts to plug products, because it compromises my journalistic integrity.
I’m not opposed to sites running health insurance ads, but doing it in such a disingenuous manner (particularly if the site is politically progressive) is not on. The Independent is a respected newspaper and it should not be using dirty advertising tricks to make money.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.