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Post's Amazon links in stories raise ethical questions
The Internet is changing media consumption habits, along with accepted ethical norms. Digital readers are increasingly accustomed to receiving advertising based on their online viewing patterns. To many, links to Amazon are unobjectionable (no reader has complained to me). And having journalists inserting them may seem benign.
"But just because the rest of society doesn't value journalistic credibility doesn't mean we shouldn't value it," said McBride. I agree.
The Post should be applauded for the safeguarding policies. And a case can be made that product links in stories are a reader convenience.
But I'm troubled by the newsroom's involvement and worry that it opens the door to a slippery-slope erosion of autonomy. That time-honored independence speaks to credibility, The Post's most cherished asset. Indeed, indisputable autonomy can distinguish The Post in an increasingly cluttered and confusing media landscape.
To survive and thrive, newspapers need new sources of revenue. But several Post officials said privately that projections from the Amazon arrangement are modest. If so, is it worth the risk? What might be gained in revenue seems less that what could be lost in standing.