The third arm: new forms of 'paid-for' content in the South African print media and the implication for media credibility and journalistic practice
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It has been argued that commercialism poses one of the gravest challenges to the autonomy and integrity of the South African media in the post 1994 era. To maintain profitability, many publications have developed a range of strategies to attract advertising in particular, developing the kind of content that advertisers most desire. These included niched supplements, special sections and advertorial pages and surveys. But. Along with growing their 'paid-for' content, many publications appear to be failing to signal adequately when content has been paid for by advertisers and when it was not. This paper identifies the development of a third arm, a new trend in paid-for content in the SA print media. Through a case study of independent newspapers special projects divisions, a review of the literature and a focus group element, this paper examines the shape and possible implications of this new trend.