A regional publisher has been criticised for ditching sports news from the back page of its daily titles in favour of an advert.
All daily titles in the Newsquest group recently published a full-page Adidas advert featuring Olympic diver Tom Daley on their back pages instead of their usual sports coverage.
They included The Argus, Brighton, the South Wales Argus, the Oxford Mail, The Press, York, and the Northern Echo.
A journalist from one of the titles told HTFP that the ad risked “damaging the papers’ credibility.”
He said: “Editorial staff, particularly those in sport, cannot understand why the back page of their papers – which are the shop window for sport in the same way the front page is for news – have been given over entirely to an advertisement, and are extremely concerned about where this could lead.
“We fear it risks damaging the credibility of Newsquest titles among their readership and gives the impression that the most valuable pages in a newspaper are up for grabs to advertisers as long as the money is right.
“While we appreciate that newspapers need advertising revenue, this is a step too far and smacks of journalistic values being prostituted.
“It also begs the question of what would have happened if a major sports story meriting a back-page lead had broken the day before the entire back page was taken up by an advertisement for a multinational company which has no links to the circulation area of these titles.”
Newsquest chief executive Paul Davidson was not available for comment.
However one senior editorial figure in the company told HTFP that the ad was on a sporting theme, had been “tastefully done,” and had not generated any complaints to his newspaper.