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December 2, 2010 / Matt Gerardi

The Washington Post Plays Host to Content From Foreign State-Run Papers

The Washington Post recently added a sponsored section called “China Watch” to its website. Turns out the content published in this section comes from China Daily, China’s government-run English language newspaper. (Neiman Lab)

The display ads for the section are clearly labeled as “A Paid Supplement To The Washington Post,” but a less careful reader could easily mistake the section for Washington Post content. The design for the main hub page is very similar to The Post’s own homepage. News is even broken down into sections such as business, politics and opinion. Only by going to the about statement of the “China Watch” segment can you find that the content is actually provided by China Daily.

What’s even more troubling is nowhere does the fact the the content is coming from a state-run source appear in the section.

This isn’t the first time The Post has hosted “advertorials,” as they’ve come to be called, from foreign papers. “Russia Now” has been running on the site since 2007 and continues today along side “China Watch.”

“Russia Now” is also made up of content provided by a state-run paper, in this case Russia’s Rossiyskaya Gazeta — which translates literally to Russian newspaper.

“China Watch” also runs in The Post’s print edition.

The problem here isn’t the “advertorial” nature of the content (although, I disagree with a media outlet’s willingness to use this sort of advertising as it is obviously designed to trick readers). What’s more concerning is that one of America’s most respected newspapers is hosting content that is manufactured by foreign state-run media outlets. The stories are harmless enough, but it is basically an outlet for transmitting foreign propaganda straight to American eyes.

Is this an issue?

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