Feed the masses this, swallow that, and everyone is happy.

I was watching Sunrise one morning this week and as part of the news bulletin — in fact the very last item of the news bulletin — newsreader Natalie Barr announced that two of the contestants in My Kitchen Rules had some tough scoring last night and Sunrise would talk to them later.

When did this become news? I’m sorry, but how does that compare with a state waiting for a leader or Peter Greste being freed? Once journalists would have refused to do these blatant cross-promotions for fear of losing their editorial credibility. Now, I suspect they do them for fear of losing their job to the next person who will happily do them.

I know it is going to get worse, not before it gets better — it is never going to get better. But I am over it. I am not talking about sponsorship here, we are well versed in this. For example, through the cricket season respected commentators were saying “the score on the Harvey Norman scoreboard is .…” To our amusement one commentator kept calling it the Harvey Newman scoreboard. These sort of sponsorships have been around forever — Suncorp Piazza, ANZ Stadium, etc; no, this is taking it further.

Here’s an example: during the cricket the commentators delivered blatant advertising dressed up as editorial with the references to Hardys Wines, who like the cricket were celebrating 100 years, etc. Really? Or an editorial story runs in a magazine or online titled “How to be a total geek babe”, which gives techniques on getting the geek look. Nicely worked into the copy is the line “this inspired by the TV series Queen of the Geeks, the new reality show that pits beauty queens against geeks” with a link to the TV program. Get it?

Clever, huh? But what makes it worse is that the story is paid for by the network hosting Queen of the Geeks and dressed up to be editorial. One television station (that shall remain nameless) is paying a radio station a handsome sum for its on-air talent to talk up a program in order to create anticipation — lovely.

We used to call it advertorial but now you’ll hear the term native content or native advertising and advertisers love it because it works. Once upon a time Australian broadcasting standards outlined that a clear distinction must exist between advertising and editorial so that readers/ listeners/ viewers could tell the difference and so the broadcaster or publication were not seen to be endorsing the product.

Forget that. Native content has crossed that line. Once it used to feature a tag like ‘advertising feature’, or ‘promotion’ which we use, but I suspect if it is native content in the future, this will cease to exist. Perhaps online you might see a little ‘sponsored’ sign somewhere on the copy. Can you tell the difference?

Phew, lucky we are all too stupid to notice — must be a great relief to the advertisers.