THE UK’s newspaper publishers are today joining forces to call on advertisers to support quality journalism during the Covid-19 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 £50million, according to the publishers, which include Newsquest, publisher of the Daily Echo.

In a letter published today, a united news industry 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 #BackdontBlock 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, the industry says 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.


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