One of the problems with the corporate media today is the blurred lines between content and advertisment, news and marketing. Big companies cultivate and embrace this shift — when people change the channel during the commercials, they figure out ways to insert their products directly into the shows. Alas, product placement reigns. But after seeing my story today in indieWIRE about Spring Festivals, which includes reporting on the San Francisco International Film Festival, along with Tribeca and Cannes, I was a little perturbed to see that the “coverage” was “sponsored” by the San Francisco Film Society, presenters of the San Francisco fest. My very own byline appears directly underneath — not the headline — but the phrase: “World Cinema coverage presented by San Francisco Film Society.”
Normally, this would be called a conflict of interest. I’m not sure how to avoid it, because indieWIRE needs the money. But it just goes to show how dependent independent media is. I’m happy to say that while writing the story nobody told me to even include mention of the SFIFF and I had no concious knowledge of the sponsorship when I was writing the piece, but I admit it looks unseemly — if anyone was paying attention. Maybe no one cares. But I guess that’s just as bad.