By: Ben Bergman | NPR
This spring, readers of in Southern California started seeing much more coverage of local universities. What they probably did not know is that the stories are paid for by the schools. Depending on whom you ask, it is either a smart way to bring in revenue, or a serious breach of journalism ethics.
Earlier this year, the newspaper’s executives offered three schools a deal: Pay us $275,000, and we will give you a year’s worth of weekly sections — filled with feel-good features, smiling pictures of students and guest columns written by faculty.