Journalism was never meant to go native

“Business magazine Forbes regularly features a column by freelancer Tara Haelle. The column goes by the slogan, “I offer straight talk on science, medicine, health and vaccines.” The phrase “straight talk” gives the impression that the brand of writing is independent, balanced, and well-informed—which would suggest a minimal level of editorial bias.

During the past eight and a half months, Haelle has written nearly 60 articles in Forbes. Thirty-seven of them have had to do with vaccines, including her last one—”Gardasil HPV Vaccine Safety Assessed In Most Comprehensive Study To Date” on July 15, 2015.1

It’s a long list, but it’s worth listing to get a sense of both the degree of Haelle’s journalistic lean and the magnitude of her unusually special interest in vaccines, given that Forbes is a business publication, not a health one.

Note that it is clear by the article titles that Haelle is extremely pro-vaccine—which is neither unusual nor surprising. What is unusual is how prolific Haelle is on the topic of vaccines. And when you read the articles, it becomes quickly apparent that they sound almost like promotional pieces, as if someone is trying to sell you something. This is troubling, particularly in light of the move last year by Forbes’ parent company, Time, Inc., to expand its use of “native advertising” (also known as “advertorials” or “sponsored content” or “branded content” or “in-feed sponsored content”).”

― Marco Cáceres, The Vaccine Reaction

Note: The above text is excerpted is from the article “Tara Haelle’s ‘Straight Talk’ on Science, Medicine, Health and Vaccines”.


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