Is Ad-Blocking Bad For Journalism?

From fashion websites to news outlets, adverts range from the annoying to the inappropriate. Pop-up images covering the article you are trying to read; brands stalking you from site to site; branded videos playing automatically over stories about Syrian refugees or the Paris attacks.

The counter argument is that money for journalism has to come from somewhere. The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) recently found that very low numbers of internet users are prepared to pay for online news. In the UK it’s just 6%, in the USA it’s 11%.

So if revenue is not coming from readers, are adverts the answer? Is the sharp rise in ad blockers going to destroy journalism? Would you stop using an ad blocker if your favourite news site asked you to?

NIC NEWMAN is a Visiting Fellow at RISJ and a digital media consultant. Here he explains the problem with adverts and why even as a journalist he whole-heartedly supports ad blockers. 


“For the last fifteen years advertising on the web has been a broken model. It has essentially tried to take a particular model that’s worked off line and tried to implement it on the internet, it’s just not sympathetic with the way people like to consume content, so it has essentially interrupted people rather than engage them.”

“I don’t think it’s good for journalism or journalistic organisations to have a poor user experience – ultimately people are going to turn away from journalism completely.”

“It’s much better if we have this crisis now of ad blockers and the advertising industry recognises it needs to change and we see real innovation.”

“People have been serving dumb ads!”