Insiders View is not the only blog arguing about editorial. Techcrunch is talking about it too. Michael Arrington who founded Techrunch in 2005 and sold it to AOL last year is having an argument with among others Arianna Huffington and Tim Armstrong of AOL about editorial.
What I always think is missing from these arguments is what the law has to say about any of this. Surprising because Arrington is a lawyer by training.
Then again he’s always been careful to say he’s not a journalist, not like his counterpart at Techcrunch Europe Mike Butcher who says he is “press”.
Here’s a stab at a definition of what editorial is legally speaking written by the advertiser’s self regulator the Advertising Standards Authority in a letter to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) during a consultation over advertising of formula milk. The FSA and ASA were arguing about who controlled messages about formula milk. They both wanted as much control as possible for different reasons.
It references European law implemented into UK law in the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and it addresses exactly what is marketing communication and what is editorial communication.
3.3 The FSA’s broad definition appears to capture editorial content or communications that are not disseminated and/ or paid for by the manufacturer of formula milks or their agents (e.g. an advertising agency or retailer). European law very clearly considers that what constitutes an advertisement is restricted to materials disseminated by or on behalf of a commercial (trade or professional) interest. The FSA’s definition currently appears to capture editorial content (e.g. material disseminated by journalists and TV and radio programme makers) and even communications between individuals.
The essential components according to the ASA’s interpretation of the law are:
- Marketers are prevented by law from paying for it
- It goes through the hands of an editor working for an organisation recognised as being in the business of editorial.
What do you think?