Expect to see much more of this.
The parent company of The Times-Picayune is paying five New Orleans Saints players to send out messages on Twitter encouraging their followers to visit the newspaper’s Saints website. Under a contract with Advance Digital, players Drew Brees, Lance Moore, Tracy Porter, Pierre Thomas and Jonathan Vilma each tweeted praise for the newly redesigned Saints community on NOLA.com this month and included a link to the site, urging their Twitter subscribers to check it out.
Expect much hand-wringing from the journalism community. Conflict of interest! they’ll shout. Someone will get Robert Thompson from Syracuse on the phone. David Carr’s friends at twitter might coax him to about it. Will the arrangement ultimately lead to the newspaper offering gentle coverage of Brees and his teammate? Because why would any of those players want to steer their followers to a site that is taking shots at them?
“There’s full transparency. There’s no suggestion that the act of paid endorsement by a player reflects on the coverage of The Times-Picayune,” Hassell said. “The Times-Picayune sports department coverage of the Saints is bar none the best and there was never an intention of suggesting these paid endorsements reflected on that coverage one way or the other.”
Smart move by the paper. The community loves the Saints. This will blow over – assuming it even becomes A Thing. Will other newspapers around the country follow the TP’s lead? Or will savvy teams who are also fighting for online ad dollars try to get players to steer fans to the team’s website?
Times-Picayune parent contracts with New Orleans Saints players to promote site via Twitter [NOLA.com]