Friday, January 6, 2017

Yes, I do plan to keep harping on this

As previously mentioned, recent events have reinforced my belief that journalism has gotten so bad that journalism has gotten so bad that it constitutes one of the primary threats to everything from the environment to technological progress to the democratic process. One of the reasons behind this dangerous decline is the practice of journalists uncritically reporting flattering and often factually challenged stories to maintain access to the rich, famous, and powerful.

When it came to maintaining healthy and well-informed skepticism and maintaining independence, Gawker Media had arguably the cleanest hands in 2016. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Gawker remnant Deadspin was the one to spot this egregious example of source-stroking.

Over at Sports Illustrated, you can read an article about Tom Brady’s new line of sleepwear for A Company That Makes Stretchy Workout Stuff. The article contains the following lines:
  • “The TB12 Sleepwear line includes full-length shirts and pants—and a short-sleeve and shorts version—with bioceramics printed on the inside.”
  • “The print, sourced from natural minerals, activates the body’s natural heat and reflects it back as far infrared energy...”
  • “The line, available in both men’s [link to store for purchase] and women’s [link to store for purchase] sizes, costs between $80 to $100 [link to store for purchase].”
  • “[A Company That Makes Stretchy Workout Stuff]’s bioceramic-printed sleepwear uses far infrared energy to promote recovery...”
(There are quotes in the article, mostly from people with financial stakes in you buying these products. An actual sleep expert is quoted. He does not endorse or even reference the products discussed in this article, nor the science behind said products. His contribution to this article can be summed up as saying sleep is important.)
This is an advertisement, in every aspect save the one where money changed hands in exchange for its publication. (We think. This would honestly be a lot less embarrassing for SI to run if it were sponsored content and they just forgot to label it as such.) These sorts of advertisements, where certain types of reporters eagerly type up press releases because it’s quick and easy, are everywhere.

Deadspin also sends us to this truly disturbing piece of sports related pseudoscience.


  1. Mark:

    I clicked through to the SI link. That must be sponsored content, no?

    1. Andrew,

      The saddest part of all this is that I can't sure if you are being sarcastic or not, but, no, I don't think so. The links at the bottom of the page are clearly labeled "sponsored content," but I don't see any such indication for the main story. I also clicked through to the listing of other "Edge" stories. They all appear to be in the same vein. Of course, it's possible I missed the "sponsored content" disclaimer, but the very fact that it was easily missable is damning in and of itself.

    2. It certainly reads like it was paid for but that "Sponsored Content" appears at the bottom of all their stories and appears to refer to the clickbait below it. Is there something else I missed?