It has since been pulled.
About 11 hours after it was published online, The Atlantic removed sponsored content from the Church of Scientology.
Journalists had raised questions about how comments on the sponsored content were moderated, compared to how comments are moderated on other Atlantic content.
Atlantic spokesperson Natalie Raabe tells The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, “Our marketing team was monitoring some of the comments,” which has triggered the need to review that process.
The sponsored page carried a Scientology banner ad across the top and linked to two stories on the Scientology website.
Sponsored content — or “native advertising” — is produced by the news organization to look and feel like the site’s own editorial work; it has becoming increasingly appealing to several news organizations, including The Atlantic and BuzzFeed.
It looked like a normal article unless you noticed the yellow box that said “sponsored content”. Advertisements made to look like real articles are typical online and in print. Sometimes, you don’t even realize. I didn’t realize until I saw NOTHING but promotional pictures and text. Then the comments! The headline was Scientology had “milestone year”. Indeed they did but it wasn’t good, it was horrendous.
One has to be VERY cautious and SKEPTICAL of news content these days. They are trying to pull a fast one on you. Sneaky.
Tony Ortega, whose blog focuses on Scientology issues, has more:
UPDATE 11:45 PM: THE ATLANTIC JUST REMOVED THE SCIENTOLOGY ADVERTORIAL IN THE FACE OF MOUNTING RIDICULE. THEY POSTED THIS NOTICE:
“We have temporarily suspended this advertising campaign pending a review of our policies that govern sponsor content and subsequent comment threads.”
He preserved the piece and the comments so head on over there to see them. He notes that the church is giving very large numbers of members that can’t be justified. They are desperate for some positive PR.
” target=”_blank”>a good piece from Wired. The author notes how the Atlantic repeated the same mistaked by Seed years ago by giving ad space a format that looked like editorial space. Credibility was stolen.