Analyzing Media Coverage

When discussing sponsored content on YouTube aimed at children there is one channel that cannot be ignored: Ryan ToysReview. With that being said, it is no surprise, according to The New York Times, the channel has come into question with the FTC. The article says that Ryan ToysReview was the subject of a complaint filed by Truth in Advertising following the FTC ruling I discussed last week when YouTube was fined $170 million. Along with the complaint filed by Truth in Advertising, the commission was also asked to look into the channel by several senators for for undisclosed sponsorships with Carl’s Jr. The article is well written, including links to sources where appropriate, comments from both sides of the situation, and a balanced approach.

Because the article was published in The New York Times, I already knew that this would likely be a credible article. That being said, I still looked for similar reports from other news sites. These articles from Buzzfeed News, Fox News, and NBC News all gave similar facts about the story, raising the credibility. The article also offered several links throughout the article, making it easy to track down many of its sources. The links offered access to a variety of sources. The most credible links were links to documents of the actual complaints filed with the FTC. The FTC was also sited for a 2017 warning to influencers to adequately disclose information. A link to Ryan ToysReview YouTube channel is provided. These links are relevant to the story and help readers to understand what Ryan ToysReview content is and of what the channel is being accused.

The article offers statements from relevant parties. Truth in Advertising’s complaint was referenced multiple times in the article. There were also statements from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s executive director, Josh Golin. Shion Kaji, father of the star of Ryan ToysReview Ryan Kaji, was also quoted in the story. The statements from each group seemed appropriately placed. Specifically, the quote from Mr. Kaji did not seem to be placed in a way to raise further suspicions about him or the motives of the channel. A source that possibly could have been quoted was the FTC. While warnings from the FTC were cited, they were older warnings not specific to this situation. I am also curious about Carl’s Jr. Ryan ToysReview has done sponsorships with many companies, but it is Carl’s Jr. who allegedly sponsored the videos accused of not properly disclosing the affiliation. Carl’s Jr. is a relevant party in the situation.

As a final consideration the article seems to give a mostly fair account of the story. As stated above, both the parties question the channel and a representative of the channel were given coverage. The article does not seem to further incriminate the channel by misrepresenting or lacking comment. This article seemed to have the most neutral coverage I could find. The other articles I mentioned above seemed to use subtle means of giving harsher portrayals of the channel than necessary.  In the end, the article seems to be asking the question of not only whether the channel acted in accordance with the law but also if following the current laws is enough. Mr. Kaji said that the channel worked within the FTC rulings, but Mr. Golin argued that simply saying something is sponsored is not enough for preschoolers to understand the difference between advertisements and content. Considering the influence that Ryan ToysReview has, it does not seem unfair for them to be questioned in the article.

In conclusion, I would give this article an A-. Readers can easily navigate the sources to gain a clearer understanding of the story because they are appropriately linked. The article seemed to give fair coverage. Most relevant parties were given opportunities to comment. The article seemed to appropriately question the actions of Ryan ToysReview without misrepresenting the channel. The only thing stopping me from giving the article an A is that I believe a quote from Carl’s Jr. would have been appropriate given the circumstances. While the article was not lacking for not including a comment from the FTC, it would have been a relevant addition.