The duchess and the newspaper — no, not the tabloid …

I have had a shock, scanning headlines I’ve missed in rushing around. Minutes after reading a wire service report about the money-grubbing, cash-to-cuddle-Andy Duchess of York, I wandered over to the Guardian site and had the strange impression of reading the identical story with a different cast of characters.

The ideal of an independent Fourth Estate is well and truly dead at Guardian News and Media. Anyone who doubts that must compare these excerpts:

UK tabloid: Duchess offered access for cash

By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press Writer Jill Lawless, Associated Press Writer – Sun May 23, 5:01 pm ET

LONDON – Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson said Sunday she was “very sorry” for her lapse of judgment after she was recording apparently offering to sell access to her ex-husband Prince Andrew in return for 500,000 pounds ($724,000).

The duchess said in a statement that she had financial problems, but “that is no excuse for a serious lapse in judgment and I am very sorry that this has happened.”

“I very deeply regret the situation and the embarrassment caused,” she said.

The tabloid News of the World posted video on its website that appears to show Ferguson discussing payment terms. She is heard to say “500,000 pounds when you can, to me, open doors.”

No such apology here:

The Guardian today introduced the second phase of its Open Platform initiative, expanding the content-sharing service to commercial partners. […]

[T]he commercial launch of Open Platform makes Guardian content available for advertisers and brands to tailor to specific online campaigns. […]

Access to the service is based on three levels: keyless, where headlines and basic data can be used without registration; approved, which allows full article content to be published; and bespoke, a customised service for licensing content and developing rich applications.

[…]

Guardian News and Media’s consumer media director Adam Freeman said the service benefitted partners by providing access to a global audience of 33 million users each month, while offering an incentive of £50,000 in media spend to the next partner that spends more than £100,000.

“The commercial launch of the Guardian’s Open Platform marks a unique and pivotal step forward for the online publishing landscape, and a new area of development for advertisers,” he said.

… Ah yes, a ‘new area of development’ and a once-respected newspaper’s explicit reinvention as a brazen mercantilist tool. Or am I dreaming? My last 48 hours have been a bit exhausting and could easily be inducing hallucinations.

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