Full-day partners who pay $200,000, apart from joining policy discussions at a Policy Brunch or enjoying the company of political influentials and media personalities at a Primetime Watch Party, can count on convention interviews with The Hill's editorial staff, for "up to three named executives or organization representatives of your choice."
"These interviews are pieces of earned media and will be hosted on a dedicated page on thehill.com and promoted across The Hill's digital and social media channels," a brochure, obtained by The Intercept, reads.
"There are a lot of ethical red flags here," said Jim Naureckas, editor of the journalism watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, cited by the Intercept.
Naureckas argues that referring to interviews as "earned media" may indicate that these so-called advertorials are intended to be indistinguishable from actual news coverage.
"If so, The Hill is operating as a straight-up PR agency," he said.
Many newspapers and magazines, including Politico and The Atlantic, have turned to sponsored events to attract influential people, including members of Congress. Journalists, delegates, and companies have lined up to sponsor these gatherings.
"My impression is that paying for journalistically greased access to bigwigs is now routine," Todd Gitlin, a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, told The Intercept. "Journalists should be covering conventions. Selling access to their leadership strikes me as an invitation to corruption."