What is a referral?

As has been the case since ancient Rome, the media, in accordance with good journalistic practice and making use of their right to inform freely, decide which news has a place and which does not. The interest of the news for the audience, the editorial line of the media, the available space, the current news, the context, the focus of the news, its commercial content… are some of the variables that the journalist will take into account when deciding what is news at a given moment and what is not.

For the most part any person, whether natural or legal, has the same right to express an opinion and issue truthful information, making use of any lawful means available to him or her. Thus, when journalistic interest and the exercise of the right to information do not coincide, the possibility arises of remission which, at the discretion of the information medium, may be paid or free of charge.

Referal: Article or news item whose publication is of interest to a private individual and which is inserted in a newspaper for a fee at his or her request. It usually has an R at the end”.

Real Academia Española

As far as its legality is concerned, the legislation is crystal clear in this respect and, taking into account the very wording of the term, the word “referral” is the most appropriate one to distinguish the journalist’s informative work from this other type of information which, although it emanates from a right, is born of a particular interest that may have advertising connotations.

So why don’t we call it advertising? Well, because a , as a general rule, is not advertising, it does not have an advertising format and its placement does not usually coincide with that intended for advertising. Would you publish an obituary to honour your deceased next to advertisements for tonics, hats and hair growth? In order to not to mislead consumers, would you mark the obituary with a sign warning that it is advertising information, with the purpose of filling the church with acquaintances and friends of the deceased on the day of his funeral? Do you really think that there could be a conflict of interest with the funeral services scheduled for another deceased person?

If you have answered no to all of them, you can ask yourself the same questions in the case of a wedding, baptism, or a coming-out; to comply with mandatory reporting obligations, such as the convening of a general meeting; to inform stakeholders about financial results; to inform shareholders about a change of registered office or certain contracting conditions; to inform the company in general about some issue related to the company, of special relevance for certain stakeholders…

Jaime Ávila Rodríguez de Mier
General Director of Recursos de Mercado
Published on 21 June 2022 by the magazine:


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