Axios and other news outlets are cashing in on corporate-sponsored events featuring their own journalists alongside company spokesmen. Quote:
[It's] a growing frontier of influence peddling in the nation's capital, as news outlets like Axios—whose slogans include "no B.S. for sale"—show how the ostensibly unbiased news outlet makes money by facilitating events for companies with the lawmakers they hope to influence. Over the past several years, Politico, the Atlantic, and other outlets have started hosting similar events in search of new revenue streams. The business model has received criticism for eroding the traditional separation between editorial content and advertising.
The Viatris event was one of 64 corporate-sponsored conversations that Axios has hosted this year alone. The events have been sponsored by industry leaders like Facebook, Bank of America, and UnitedHealth and have featured 59 members of Congress and federal officials, according to a Washington Free Beacon review.
The arrangement is not illegal, but it blurs the ethical boundaries of journalism and highlights a sort of shadow lobbying strategy, according to ethics experts, who say the news outlet's practice allows companies to circumvent lobbying-disclosure rules and wield influence through a side door.