London: Hotels go Sharia?

A few days ago I received an email from a certain chain of hotels in London saying they found my site 'quite relevant' and asking if I'd like to exchange links.

Why would a hotel in London be interested in Islam in Europe? The possibilities of a scoop swirled in my head. Are they thinking of starting a Sharia division? Attracting Muslim overseas visitors? Throwing out all alcoholic products? Banning bacon? Or are they just spamming anything that moves on the net, hoping to get their link rating up?

Let's say I don't fall for spam... what about hidden advertising?

Last week I posted on article on my blog about the UK's first Sharia compliant insurance company. My problem with this announcement was that I've already posted such articles twice before. There is probably some small difference between these three companies, a difference which enabled journalists to come out with such headlines, but this has gotten to me to start wondering if these announcements aren't really advertisements in disguise.

A Sharia hotel chain with plans to open up 40 new hotels in Europe over the next five years have been getting press coverage for close to a year, most recently in Denmark, where they're not even interested in opening up hotels. Interesting article, maybe, but as far as I know, not one hotel has been built yet.

These articles make for a lot of business. The business in question gets a lot of free publicity, newspapers get bought, and everybody is happy. As a blogger I often 'play my part' and help propagate the story.

My question to you, my readers: Where is the line between news and advertising?

3 comments:

nunya said...

It's a fine line in the mainstream media in the US anyway.

You might like this site

PR Watch.org

jdamn13 said...

It's a fine line in lots of countries' media. I've seen stuff like that even on Indonesia Matters and Tundra Tabloids, which is Finnish blog. I was kind of thinking that it was sort of an advertising thing, although it likely wouldn't have occurred to me if Esther didn't point out that it really wasn't the first time whenever one of these 'First Sharia-Compliant ____' articles appears, and just figured, 'oh, France is getting one this week.' I respect you for telling us about their approaching you, Esther. Did they offer to pay you? I hope advertising doesn't overwhelm the blogosphere.

The messed-up thing about advertising and the media in the States is that it's a two-way street. I saw something on FOX news about how much money individual papers and journalists had contributed to the Obama campaign. I guess they have an investment in it, though, since more people will pick up a paper if Obama's elected and rages class warfare, sending America headfirst into an all-out civil war. Thank God we Red-Staters have the military on our side and we already own all the guns should that happen. But they're neck-and-neck in the polls, despite McCain's disturbing lack of campaigning lately.

Esther said...

Hi jdamn13,

I was being sarcastic... I get a lot of 'link exchange' spam.