No more commercial ads on Bananama Republic

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Advertising as a means to support journalism is over. Dead. It worked when printing presses were expensive and those with something to advertise had little choice but to pay for using the printing infrastructure. But that exclusivity no longer exists, distribution is extremely cheap thanks to the internet, and advertisers, as Clay Shirky put it, "never really signed up to fund the Baghdad bureau anyway". Thus, newspapers are in trouble and it will only get worse now that dinosaurs and journalistic charlatans like Rupert Murdoch are trying to control the debate. It's a development we'll inevitably witness in Panama as well because, as it is, most of the old media really suck at what they do.

Simultaneously, we've seen a whole industry emerge around what's called "monetizing blogs". There are extensive websites and even online courses and services devoted to such things like writing around keywords, SEO optimization, social networking, viral marketing, advertising-friendly blog designs and what have you. So sure enough, we had a couple of Google Adsense blocks on our website too, and made some money from people who clicked on them.

Well, today we threw them out.

You know, we prefer to use our "screen estate" and ever increasing traffic to promote organizations and causes we believe in, instead of renting it out to real estate developers and law firms. Direct advertising (without Google as the middleman) has never been an option here; advertisers in Panama tend to shamelessly attempt to influence content and the industry is so backward (no ratings, for example) that they have yet to discover the phenomenon of "pay-per-click".

That doesn't mean that we'll never run a commercial ad again, but only if we like the company, what it does and what it stands for. Think fair trade, clean energy, redistribution of wealth, the arts - that sort of thing.

Meanwhile, if you have or know of an NGO or cause that deserves some promotion here, let us know!

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