Are 'advertorial' family law news stories worth reading?

Image: Public Domain, via Piqsels

As someone who has closely followed family law-related news stories for the last fifteen years, I have often come across what I call 'advertorial' stories, clearly created by law firms for the purpose of promotion.

The reader will no doubt know what I am speaking of - typically, a story based upon the firm's 'experiences', or upon research commissioned by, or carried out by, the firm. The result is a headline-grabbing news story (e.g. "Wives missing out on pension claims", or "More couples entering into pre-nuptial agreements", etc.), which will hopefully be picked up by legal journals, and sometimes even the national media.

As part of what I do I sift through the family law news stories I find and pass them on to anyone who is interested, previously via a website and weekly email newsletter, now via my Family Law News Twitter feed, and my weekly News Essentials posts here.

I do not, however, usually include advertorial news stories. The reason for this is twofold: firstly I usually find that their true newsworthiness is marginal (and sometimes not even that), and secondly, I do not want to partake in giving these firms free publicity.

I am also somewhat disappointed when what I consider to be reputable news outlets carry the stories. Do they not care about the quality of the story, or that they are giving away free advertising? Or is it just that they are that desperate to find news stories to carry?

I am not of course saying that I disagree with law firms promoting themselves (the days of a ban on advertising are long gone, even if I can still remember them). And I am not against lawyers giving opinions in the media on 'real' news stories. 

However, when the primary purpose of a story is obviously not to tell the story but to promote the firm, I baulk. Just how valid is this story? It may, of course, be perfectly valid. It's just that the self-promotion taints it, and I feel that I have a duty to my readers to at least try to only provide them with real, valid, news stories.

Anyway, that's my rant for the day...