'Back, don't block British journalism' call to advertisers from news industry

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 8:36 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 2:11 pm

Newspaper publishers in the UK have joined forces to call on advertisers to support quality journalism during the coronavirus crisis.

While all news brands have seen a surge in demand from readers for quality, accurate reporting, advertising industry ‘blocklists’ are preventing adverts from appearing alongside online stories about coronavirus.

If the pandemic lasts for another three months the total loss to news brands is expected to be £50 million.

In a letter published today, a united news industry, including the publisher of this title JPIMedia, asks advertisers to remove blocklists from trusted UK news brands to ensure they can continue to fund quality British journalism at a time of national crisis.

The appeal is supported by the news industry's trade bodies Newsworks, the News Media Association and the Society of Editors as well as the Association for Online Publishers, Internet Advertising Bureau and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

Tracy De Groose, executive chair of Newsworks, who wrote the letter on behalf of the industry, said: “While we have seen a huge surge in demand from readers for trusted, accurate reporting, advertising ‘blocklists’ are preventing adverts from appearing alongside online stories with the word ‘coronavirus’ in them.

“Our unified industry appeal to advertisers is incredibly simple: back, and don’t block British journalism. Please remove ‘coronavirus’ from your blocklists. Readers are relying on us right now, and we are relying on advertising to help ensure the public receive information and advice from the very best sources.”

News Media Association deputy chief executive Lynne Anderson said: “The critical role played by news media in getting trusted and accurate information out to the public has been widely acknowledged during the coronavirus outbreak. Advertisers should be supporting this vital public service provided by the media.”

Blocklists are lists of keywords that advertisers put in place to stop their adverts appearing against inappropriate content. However, their inclusion of the word coronavirus has had the unintended consequence of penalising newspapers for producing vital, informative journalism covering the most important issue to affect the country for a generation.

Read the open letter to advertisers in full

Dear Advertiser,

These are challenging times for all of our businesses no matter the size, sector or region we operate in. However, working together we can help reduce the devastating impact of this virus.

We are open and ready to support you, so please let us know how we can best do that for your people, your customers and your business.

Across our own industry, our journalists are working harder than ever to ask the right questions and to deliver accurate information in the most helpful and accessible ways possible for their readers.

Yet, as the crisis unfolds, the strain on journalist resources and their ability to keep reporting is only going to get tougher.

And, while we have seen a huge surge in demand from readers for trusted, accurate reporting, advertising ‘blocklists’ are preventing adverts from appearing alongside online stories with the word ‘coronavirus’ in them.

If the pandemic lasts for another three months the total loss across our news brands is expected to be £50 million, threatening our ability to fund the quality journalism that is vital to ensure that the UK public is accurately informed during the crisis.

We understand many marketing budgets are under real pressure now. All we ask is that when you launch your next campaign you check you’re not unknowingly blocking trusted news brands from your plans. Readers are relying on us right now, and we are relying on advertising to help ensure the public receive information and advice from the very best sources.

Our unified industry appeal to you, our valued advertisers, is incredibly simple: back, and don’t block British journalism. Please remove ‘coronavirus’ from your blocklists.

Kind regards,

Tracy De Groose

Executive Chair

Newsworks