Profiting from Tragedy

Google “Virginia tech tragedy” or “Virginia killing’” and you’ll see sponsored ads from the NY Times, ABC News and the UK’s The First Post.


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City Homework Help The news organizations bought these ads on Google soon after the last bullet was fired. And the ads are still there.

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source site Is this tacky? Is it wrong? Or is it smart business promotion?

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Order Finance Homework pay for my research paper An article in the latest issue of BusinessWeek, “Buying Clicks to a Tragedy,” explores this issue:


Some argue that such self-promotion treads a dangerous line between being shrewd and exploitive. “It’s a line of taste more than ethics,” says Michael Hoyt, executive editor of the go to link Columbia Journalism Review. “You push your newscast, of course, but do you do it on the back of a national tragedy?”


These ads didn’t come cheap. Supply and demand drive the cost of the ads and demand was sky high from news organizations wanting their ad at the top of Google’s search list. During the week of April 16, Google ads on terms like “Virginia tech massacre” cost as much as $5 a click, Peter Hershberg of Reprise Media told BusinessWeek.  A week later the price was back down to a more normal nickel per click.


(And we complain about oil companies’ price gouging. Anybody ask Google how much it made off the Virginia killings?)


The NY Times has a policy against running ads online next to stories it deems tragedies. But the Times was perhaps the most aggressive buyer of ads optimized to Google searches for information on the Virginia Tech tragedy. Try any combination of “Virginia Tech” or “Virginia” with “killing,” “tragedy” or “massacre.” The only ad that I find in every single search is one for the NY Times.


Clearly the Blacksburg tragedy was of high interest to hundreds of millions of people, and news organizations cover news. Bloggers, too. This is my third post relating in some way to the killings there.


But profiteering from tragedy is something else altogether. Doesn’t it all make you a little sick in the stomach?


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