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I'm looking for a word to describe an article published in a newspaper that's written by a shill. Basically a word that describes the article as blatant over the top praise without perspective. I know 'advertorial' might work but I'm looking for an adjective that describes a panegyric that isn't genuine.

14 Answers 14

9

Meretricious, meaning attractive in a way that is false or that lacks integrity (an extension of the older meaning of the word, meaning "relating to prostitution").

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    I don't think this is quite on the mark. I would think something like sycophantic would be closer to the truth. – Robusto Mar 20 '14 at 16:15
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    Meretricious, and a Happy New Year! – MT_Head Mar 20 '14 at 20:24
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    @Robusto - I'm not sure I think it's better, but "sycophantic" is a reasonable alternative. If you think it's better than the currently accepted answer, why bury it in a comment instead of suggesting it as an answer? – Chris Sunami Mar 20 '14 at 20:59
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Astroturfing is often used for the online version of this, maybe for paper newspapers as well. Astroturf is a brand of artificial grass, so this is an artificial grassroots article.

Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message (e.g. political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from grassroots participant(s). Source: Wikipedia

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Advertorial is what I call them. Or puff pieces.

7

That sounds like your typical plug.

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Popular recently, and with a mildly humorous connotation (or at least origin), is "astroturfing." It's a play on "grassroots" - instead of getting actual sua sponte testimonials or support, you plant fake support. Wikipedia puts the origin back to 1985, but I first saw it in the IEEE Spectrum a couple of years ago. http://spectrum.ieee.org/geek-life/tools-toys/the-language-of-online-life

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"Propaganda" or simply "Marketing".

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I'd call it a "promotional piece". It has the intended meaning of blatantly biased advertising and the added advantage of people knowing what it means.

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Personally, I'm fond of the noun 'puffery'. If you prefer an adjective, perhaps 'effusive'.

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    Effusive does not imply falsehood, I can be completely impartial and still offer effusive praise. – terdon Mar 21 '14 at 2:00
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Wikipedia has been debating the issue and was describing it as "paid advocacy." I'd suggest that term or "paid advocate."

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"Sockpuppeting" would fit perfectly, but only in cases where the (false) praise is being given at the direct direction of the praisee.

  • IMO, sockpuppeting is more like the praise being written by the "praisee" pseudonymously. – Kaz Dragon Mar 21 '14 at 10:14
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Paul Graham calls that kind of subtle PR article a submarine. I haven't heard that term used widely outside the tech-heavy crowd that reads his essays though.

  • The linked article uses "submarine" as a description for the whole PR industry ("lurking beneath the news"). I don't see it used for a specific kind of planted article. – Beni Cherniavsky-Paskin Mar 21 '14 at 4:28
  • True, I guess I've just read the term being used that way in forum comments. – Philip Mar 21 '14 at 8:05
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This isn't 100% spot-on, but it's at least worth considering:

obsequious - Excessively deferential to authority

"The writer's praise of his editor was nakedly obsequious."

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You could also consider claptrap, which refers to pretentious but insincere or empty language.

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You might also consider rhetorical:

rhetoric : language that is intended to influence people and that may not be honest or reasonable

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