Blog Discussion #3

Hi everyone —

Check out this screen grab of the boston.comhomepage this morning.  If you can, go to the homepage and experience the Foxwoods ad (I’m not too sure how long it will be there.)  On the comments section here weigh in with your thoughts about the ethical implications of using this advertisement?  What are they?  New organizations have to pay the bills but is there ever a time where you draw the line?  Also, is there a conflict of interest here?  Casinos are big news in Massachusetts and there is even a story in today’s Globe about casinos and traffic.






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14 Responses to Blog Discussion #3

  1. alexahoyle says:

    I don’t really see how this wouldn’t be ethical. I’ve seen a lot of sites do this same thing and have full-site ads – it’s just doing business. They’re obviously getting more money for these larger ads, and when selling ad-space is one of the largest forms of revenue for a website this is financially smart.

    When it comes to there being a conflict of interest, though, there definitely could be. It could be construed that the site is for the casinos when in reality they need to keep a neutral stance as a news organization. It’s a fine line between wanted to get the money that a large ad can provide and trying to keep your website as unbiased as possible to cater to multiple audiences.

  2. Remy Schwartz says:

    I’m not sure that I would consider this a conflict of interest, mainly because I could not easily navigate to the casino/traffic article from the homepage that displayed the ad. Only upon clicking the link and following the trajectory did I find it, where I also found a whole page motion-graphic advertisement for the New England Aquarium. If there were the Foxwoods banner ad right over the casino article, that would definitely be suspect. Also, the ad is for a Connecticut casino, which could be perceived as a casino endorsement or an argument that there is already gambling nearby.

    I agree with Alexa. They’re just selling ad space, and like full-page ads in the New York Times, this one probably brought in some revenue. Ethically I think this is sound, considering the conflict of interest to be null. I do, however, think this is bad form. The screen-consuming graphics and involuntary Flash windows seem trashy. I know that these kinds of things pay the bills, but I feel that overly-obtrusive advertisements are a large reason many people think web journalism lacks the class of print.

    • stevejfox says:

      Remy —

      Yes we’ve seen ads like this before but this involves an issue in the news for Massachusetts with lots of debate. Is as simple as saying that this organization is based in Conn.? Are any of players in Foxwoods involved in the Mass. debate? It’s not as simple as saying they are in another state in this day and age.


  3. kdruar says:

    I think the ethical implications are that they are endorsing something that can become an addiction. If I or someone I knew had a gambling addiction, the reader could be negatively impacted when just trying to get their daily news.
    But I also think that the marketing department may have figured that it wouldn’t be a problem for the majority of their readers. They cared more about the money for the ad space than offending readers. I honestly don’t believe it will have a huge impact on viewer ship, but ethically for a newspaper it is in a grey area.
    I think there is a conflict of interest that has a huge Foxwoods interactive ad when casino’s are a hot topic in the state. It could be misconstrued for supporting the issue when they are supposed to be an unbiased organization.

    • stevejfox says:

      Katy — I’m not sure the marketing department was able to figure out whether Globe readers are or aren’t gambling addicts. But, you’ve touched upon one of the ethical issues here. There are moral and ethical issues surrounding the Mass. debate as well as business considerations. The question is does this ad endorse gambling?


  4. dlajoie3 says:

    I agree with the people who have been commenting to this point. I don’t really see any ethical implications and I don’t think that the Boston Globe even considered it being unethical. Like everyone has said, it seems as though the Boston Globe was trying to sell ad space and a full-site ad would bring the paper a good amount of revenue.

    I do think that there is a conflict of interest though, because there was an article in that day’s paper and the casino issue is such a hot button topic. The Boston Globe should try to remain as unbiased as possible and several people may misconstrue this as the Boston Globe picking a side in the argument.

    If the casino bill is passed and Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun are fighting each other to build a casino in Massachusetts and this ad is in the paper, then there may be ethical implications, but I don’t see the ad as currently constructed to be a big deal.

  5. Micah Levine says:

    I understand that news organizations rely on ads to make money, however, I do see the Foxwoods ad as a bit of an ethical problem. I think it’s fine to have an ad for Foxwoods, but the placement of the ad is right across the top and directly beneath the links to the different news sections, it’s literally the first thing I saw when I clicked onto the site. I feel like the fact that it’s so incredibly prominent is what makes it look a bit like an endorsement rather than the presence of the ad itself.

    Realizing that casinos are a little bit of a hot issue in MA I’m not sure I see the presence of an ad for one to be an ethical issue. Again if it didn’t look so much like an endorsement it probably wouldn’t bother me at all.

  6. Dylan Merry says:

    I personally don’t think that there is any ethical dilemma with this advertisement on I do however, think it might be a little inappropriate to have on a newspapers website, but you see ads for Foxwoods on multiple TV channels and radio stations.

    Foxwoods is just trying to promote their casino, there are plenty of people who can go to casinos and gamble and they don’t turn into gambling addicts at all. I personally see it no different than if best buy was to have an ad on for video games. Can’t people be addicted to them too?

    The one problem I do see with the Foxwoods ad is that it is enormous, it takes away from the entire news site. I want news, not to play slots. However, if Foxwoods wants to pay thousands of dollars to put their ad smack dab in the center of their page then its’s choice. Foxwoods is capable of paying companies enough money to have huge annoying advertisements. If doesn’t want to get flak from its readers about the huge advertisements then don’t accept the huge check that Foxwoods gives you.

  7. zachweishar says:

    To me, this is a pretty clear ethical dilemma. The casino industry is has been trying to expand into Massachusetts, and as mentioned in the original post, it is a fairly hotly contested issue. Of course, a casino or two would create jobs in the short term, but there is also evidence that casinos have a negative impact on the surrounding community in the long term. Whether or not it would be a good move to allow casinos into mass is besides the point. The Boston Globe is basically the Massachusetts state news paper, and it should not be choosing sides on any issue, let alone one that has the potential to change the community in a negative way.

    Displaying casino advertising on their website is not unethical in itself, but it could make readers question the objectivity of the paper in the future. It would not have been such a big deal in my mind if the add was small, or the same size as other adds on the sight, but such an upfront and in your face add like this is pushing it to say the least.

  8. Melissa Gately says:

    I agree with what most of everyone is saying and I don’t really think it’s unethical. For instance just like Alexa said it’s selling space. Ad selling space is profitable and some might say that it was a good move for Foxwoods to have Ads on the since it draws a lot of attention, whether good or bad. Either way this is exactly what the marketing companies of Foxwoods want consumers to do, is talk about it.

    I agree with Zach, that having Foxwoods ads on the Boston Globe homepage does give a message that they are in support for casinos in Massachusetts and this can hinder reader’s opinion on the newspaper. I would hope that the newspaper at least thought about that before filling the ad space. If not, this could subsequently hurt themselves in the long wrong if they were to do something similar like this again.

  9. I honestly think that this would is not an ethical issue. I mean the bigger issue in all of this is net neutrality. The issue is gatekeeping. When a corporation or conglomerate purposefully withholds access to a domain for purchase is unethical. In the free and open internet, we shouldn’t have to pay for access.

    However, concerning these advertisements, many ads these days are marketed to you via third party applications that track your viewing habits. These tracker bugs then tag your computer and market ads to you based on your browsing history.

    So I think the issue of advertising is not an ethical issue unless you consider it to be unethical to be tracked without your knowledge by third party trackers. I consider it to be a privacy, and therefore ethical issue to market ads like that.

    In the end, a Foxwoods ad is not an ethical issue since its not specifically targeting one individual.

  10. This advertisement used a spinning roulette wheel, which lessened the impact of the fact that casinos are all about gambling, which can turn into an addiction, and made it seem more like a game.

    Casinos are a very big deal in Massachusetts and there is much controversy over their development. I live less than five minutes away from Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place, which I consider to be a safe environment for high school and even middle school students to hang out alone. There is the CasiNO campaign going on in the Foxboro area to try and prevent the opening of a casino there, since the people who it would attract would bring down the safety of the community.

    The fact that there was a Foxwoods overflow and take over on the website gives the impression that Boston supports the development of casinos, where that may not be the case. It also makes gambling seem more mainstream. You would not see such ads for a cigarette brand on their website and essentially, it is a similar case.

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