Thursday, 1 October 2009

Who Do You Think You Are USA - product placement

The following note from Reuters was picked up by Dick Eastman's genealogy blog:

After securing a product placement deal for the U.S. edition of the television programme Who Do You Think You Are?, Shed Media (SHDP.L) hopes the government will change its stance and allow similar advertising in the UK. The arrangement with NBC and genealogy company will see each episode make a limited number of mentions of's research services. For its part, has made a significant investment in the programme's budget - both in terms of cash and in kind by carrying out most of the research.

I can't think of anything worse. Not because there is anything wrong with Ancestry - quite the opposite, it's a great resource - but because the research process as portrayed on WDYTYA often bears little in common with the genuine and more common experiences of most. Also, it appears that ITV has just secured a product placement deal, but that is definitely not something that should appear on the BBC. It affects editorial independence for programme makers, and goes against the very ethos of the BBC which is public service through and through. Mind you, the fact that the BBC now defines public service as 'entertainment' in most cases is perhaps a different issue!

And whilst Ancestry is very good, it is not the magic wand for every situation, though does indeed have a great deal of material for the US on its databases. But can you imagine the moment when an American celebrity suddenly has to find out about his Scottish roots? "Mr Pitt - I'm glad to tell you that from the 1851 census it appears that your ancestor was a somam weaver!" (A what? Transcription error for 'linen weaver'!) Mind you, it would be worth it to hear about the history of 'somam'...! :)

(With thanks to the EOGN

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

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