Is This the Age of Advertiser-sponsored Blog Censorship?

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Everybody in blog creation, corporate or otherwise, hopes to create that must-read blog that inspires other companies to advertise. Getting a like-minded advertiser on your business blog is a great way to generate readers and extra money. But what if the advertisers step in and start censoring the content? That’s just what one blogger over at Psychology Today says happened to him.

According to the Wall Street Journal, blogger and Penn psychologist James C. Coyne claims that due to pressure from drug giant and Psychology Today advertiser Pfizer, a recent blog post of his was taken off the site. Explaining the disappearance of his blog, Coyne wrote in a follow-up post, “Shortly after posting the blog, I was notified that PT staff took it down. Mysteriously, my profile photo was also removed. An email from PT announced that the blog had been removed for editorial review and I was told in a telephone call to PT … that concerns had been raised that the blog’s provocative title and subtitle offend the pharmaceutical companies that regularly advertise in the side panels accompanying blogs.” The problematic title in question? “$10 Million from Pfizer: Generous Philanthropy or Buying Influence?” along with the subtitle “Is Pharma Hijacking Screening Cancer Patients for Distress?”

The missing post soon returned with the more Pfizer-friendly title, “Cancer Treatment and the Pursuit of Quality Indicators.” Coyne says he has been informed that all future blog posts will be subject to pre-approval. Oddly enough, Coyne is no hater of pharmaceuticals; he has, in fact, championed the use of them in previous posts.

While this kind of advertiser strong-arming is a regular occurrence in the rest of traditional media, that fact that blogging is now subject to it too is disconcerting. Yes, we realize PT has magazines to sell and lights to keep on just like every other post-2008 business. And keeping advertisers happy is important, too. But so is integrity. Blogging for business is an appealing marketing avenue because of its free-flowing, independent, sometimes even brazen spirit. Take that away or let others police the content and you might as well go back to 1950s radio advertising.

But that’s what we think. How about you? Are we in advertiser-dictated times? Is blog censorship a reality even in the United States? Sound off below!

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