Page 2 of The Economic Times today has this separate category of news briefs, under the suggestively titled head , "Response Business Associate Information" Ha, Ha. So that a reader would know that everything that appears there is paid for. As if the typical ET reader would ever know, after all the nooks and crannies ET has gone into to widen it's reader base.
Anyway, that is the way The Times Group works, and you may as well get used to it. The interesting part in the 'news articles' in this secion was that of the 10 articles featured, all were from PSU banks. Tells you something about the innocence of these bank managements when it comes to associating with a paid plug, or perhaps it's the sheer laziness, and inability of their corporate communication departments to get them featured in the regular news. Because quite frankly, news headlines like 'Corporation Bank opens 900th ATM", BOI offers Gold Coins at special rates, IDBI and IIFCL sign MOU for Joint Financing of projects, SBI Increases BPLR by 50 bps etc are headlines which wouldn't look out of place in news items on a normal day. It's a moot point whether these banks allowed themselves to be convinced that paying for this was the only way to be assured of coverage in ET.
The tragedy is that other newspaper managements, even as they hold out against dropping this low, will feel compelled to give a second look to these regular news stories, to give their own ad sales teams a chance at selling a regular ad perhaps to these sort of managements. As it is, it is difficult to read any newspaper with any news article that carries unabashed praise of a specific company or brand. A big casualty have been the regular events etc sponsored by media comoanies , which donot even find coverage in rival publications now, thanks to the obsession with charging for as many things as possible.
Incidentally, the same issue of ET has this outrageous plug for timesjob.com, a group company, describing it as India's no. 1, based on the most amazing interpretation of data. They claim to have more 'active' users than Naukri, even as the definition of active is diffrent for both.... Amazing chutzpah!