For those of you keeping score at home, this is the third time the hardworking staff at Campaign Outsider has written about regional cable news outfit NECN and its slow-motion dismantling of the traditional firewall between advertising and editorial content.
Maybe third time’s the charm.
The issue is this:
Every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. NECN cablecasts a magazine-style program called Style Boston. Except it’s not a program. It’s an infomercial. That’s because NECN doesn’t produce Style Boston; instead, the producers of Style Boston buy time to run what are essentially marketing segments on NECN.
That puts Style Boston in the category of “paid programming.”
So far, so normal.
Until NECN puts Style Boston segments in the Arts & Entertainment section of its website, which signals to viewers that the clips are editorial content.
Which they’re not.
Twice before NECN has, in essence, said “So what?”
Tonya Chen Mezrich (a charter member of the local chapter of Air Kiss Nation and the wife of author Ben Mezrich, who fabricates dialogue for a living) was, Style Boston producer Terri Stanley told the Globe, “not strong enough to carry the most important segment of the show” – that is, the “Fashion Forward” weekly feature.
The Herald, for its part, said Tonya Mezrich’s “wooden on-screen performance wasn’t making the grade.” (You be the judge here .)
But what’s really not making the grade is NECN’s sense of what’s journalistically appropriate and what’s not.
By which we mean Style Boston.
UPDATE: The hardworking staff failed to make explicit that Air-Kiss Queen Tonya Mezrich counter-claims she was dumped by Style Boston because she’s pregnant. But even that doesn’t explain why Mezrich’s so bad in the infomercial.