Tanzina Vega, New York Times:
Articles in a series on Mashable.com called “What’s Inside” looked for all the world like the hundreds of other articles on the digital media site. But journalistically, they were something very different.
The articles, about technology topics in a wide variety of products, including modems and the Hubble Space Telescope, were paid for by Snapdragon, a brand of processor chip made by Qualcomm, and the sponsor of the series. Most were even written by Mashable editorial employees.
Take a look at one of these articles — say, for example, the Google Glass one. Notice that nowhere in that article does it say that it is sponsored by Qualcomm, until you get down to the tiny-ass tags at the bottom where you’ll find “Snapdragon” and “Sponsored” mixed in with other topics.
Mashable isn’t exactly the epitome of journalistic excellence, but this is basic stuff. If a website or publication is running ads or sponsored content, it is ethically dubious to not identify it as such.