Megalomedia - Wake up to your news

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Post takes selling out to a whole new level

It finally happened. When I was the editor-in-chief of Carleton University's independent weekly newspaper the Charlatan, I was approached on more than one occasion by our advertising department with requests from adveritisers to put ads on our cover. The requests ranged from simple banner ads (the likes of which appear at the bottom of most major daily papers) to one extreme request to wrap the paper in an ad. It appears the Post had less restraint than us. This is not the front page of the paper, despite what you might think. The paper is actually wrapped with a Mazda ad, which covers the entire back page and half of the front. Here's the kicker though, they actually ran the left half of their masthead on the ad page. So you pick up the paper, and the masthead runs seamlessly across the front page, but the left half runs over an ad, while the right half runs over the exposed part of their A1. Unreal. It's probably hard to visualize, so I'll try to find a way to get a picture of it up here as soon as I can. UPDATE: Here it is: But my favourite part of the whole debacle is that above the masthead on the ad half, they tried to further the illusion by including their standard teaser - to a story about Mars developing chocolate-flavoured candy with a photo of a Mars bar accompanying it. At least Mazada paid for their ad. Your news, brought to you by Mazda and Mars. Peter Worthington doesn't know when to shut up After his callous "in Britain, police now shoot suspects. Good," line yesterday, Worthington skipped his chance to move on somewhat gracefully by penning this piece of shit. He suggests that police in London had no choice, given that the guy was wearing a heavy coat and ran from police. Uh Peter, you forgot to point out that they were undercover cops. That's a pretty substantial fact to ignore. Imagine you're a brown person in a city gripped with xenophobia after a spate of bombings. You're in a subway station when suddenly a group of gun-toting white men in plain clothes starts screaming at you and running at you. I don't have the time (I'm doing the MediaScout again today) or energy to disect all of Worthington's points, you'll have to wade through his alarmist, racist diatribe yourself. My personal favourite part is where he blames Muslims for the policy that led to the shooting of an innocent man. Is it all bad? Thankfully, no. Fifth Estate and Globe and Mail veteran Ron Haggart penned a Megalomedia-esque piece on the coverage of the shooting in today's Globe. Read it and love it, right here. Okay, that's good for today. Don't forget to check out the Scout for more sparkling insight.

10 Comments:

  • I'm sure that Ron would love that you called his work "Megalomediaesque".

    Also, advertising in, on or around newspapers isn't the heinous act you seem to think it is. So the paper is wrapped in a mazda ad? Big deal. Like it or not, newspapers are nothing more than advertising mediums. If they were news sources, they would be the Internet.

    By Blogger Ryan, at 9:46 AM  

  • Mmmm... sorry Ryan, that's a load of crap. Newspapers have perhaps BECOME advertising mediums because of things such as this that have been allowed to happen, but they are not and should not be as such. Just because technology has moved to such a pace that we can have updates every five minutes about stories in locations as far away as Tokyo or as close as Toronto does not invalidate the printed medium as a mode of information transmission.

    It is a big deal that Mazda decided that for even one day they wanted to "own" the news. Until people start to realize that there are boundaries on what is ok and what is not when it comes to advertising (and ads alone are not "evil" or anything - I'm not arguing that, I'm arguing for appropriateness, so don't get all ornery about people slamming the bad ol' ad guys) we are just going to suffer from agendas being imposed on news organizations. Corporate politics are not disconnected to what gets printed, no matter how "conspiricy theory" you might think that is.

    By Anonymous Melissa, at 11:27 AM  

  • Yes, Ryan, we all know the Internet is one of the most credible and advertising-free media in the world. Incidentally, I have a crate of penis enlargement pills to sell you.

    By Anonymous Phronetic Man, at 1:15 PM  

  • The NP coming wrapped in a Mazda ad is not Mazda "owning the news". It is Mazda advertising on a newspaper.

    I might remind you that I work in PR, so I don't really have to be reminded that advertising has a direct impact on what gets printed, but that's not an issue here. Whether they pay $250,000 to wrap the paper or $250,000 on a page and a half of ads inside, they still have the same leverage.

    By your argument (and sort of Joe's) newspapers should be totally without advertising. Hey - maybe they should, but they're not. On the outside or on the inside is completely irrelevant to ethics or news or anything like that.

    And Phronetic Man - I wasn't saying that the Internet was without bias or advertising... What I was saying is that newspapers are a useless medium in terms of reporting the news. They're slow, they're expensive and they just create garbage. There are some upsides to having a print edition, but largely the only reason that anyone prints papers anymore is because they are a tremendous revenue source.

    I will, however take those pills.

    By Blogger Ryan, at 3:39 PM  

  • The following letter was sent to the Toronto Star today. I'm still awaiting a response:

    "I'm wondering how I can contact columnist Peter Worthington directly. His column today, blaming muslims for the death of a brazilian in London makes me think he would be a perfect spokesperson for our organization. The media has pretty much dragged the name of the KKK through the mud over the past 30 years, but we are a constantly growing underground force. If you could please pass this on to Peter and let him know that we are interested in his services, it would be greatly appreciated. Please have him respond to the above e-mail. I assure you all correspondance will be conducted with the strictest confidentiality.

    Thank you."

    By Blogger The Shotgun Solution, at 4:47 PM  

  • I assume you meant the Toronto Sun, as the Star would have no way to contact Worthington for you.

    As for Ryan's comments, I don't believe that newspapers should be ad-free, but I think when you start covering up your front page news with an ad, you're crossing a line. The National Post's masthead is now, essentially, wrapped in an advertisement. That just seems wrong.

    Oh, and Amy took some photos of the paper on her crappy work camera. I'll upload them asap.

    By Blogger Joe Boughner, at 4:55 PM  

  • What I was saying is that newspapers are a useless medium in terms of reporting the news. They're slow, they're expensive and they just create garbage. There are some upsides to having a print edition, but largely the only reason that anyone prints papers anymore is because they are a tremendous revenue source.

    And that is indeed sad. And as grandiose as it may seem, I would prefer to see news on the front cover of a newspaper instead of being spoonfed what car I should buy.

    Regardless, unless you're going to bust out your wireless laptop and surf while sipping your java in the morning, newspapers still have a presence and there are those who still read them in the morning.

    They wouldn't be a source of revenue if this wasn't the case.

    I also know I pick and buy a paper for the headlines that scream at me on the cover, if I wanted to immerse myself in advertising I'd pick up Cosmo.

    By Anonymous Ellen, at 7:38 PM  

  • Maybe you're right... and to be fair, I am being glib when I say that the paper copy is useless, but I certainly don't have any use for it, and I expect in the next few decades, there will be far more people like me. The trend is already there, and advertising dollars are slowly starting to seep into the online world, away from giant display ads.

    Which, I would argue, is why you see more intrusive advertising like you see here. Hmm... I think I'm going to expound on this on my own turf. Feel free to argue with me there.

    By Blogger Ryan, at 8:18 PM  

  • hey, no need for argument amongst friends. let's just all go buy a Mazda 5 and have some drinks.

    By Anonymous morgan rooney, at 7:17 AM  

  • Just popped over from Ryan's blog figured I'd share some stream-of-consciousness thoughts.

    I think that putting an advertisement on the front cover of a newspaper does cross a line. Not because it changes the news inside (although if Mazda is paying for an ad that big you can be sure they paid a hell of a lot of money and therefore likely DO have more weight) but because it takes the whole commercialization of information up a notch.

    I think anyone reading this blog would laugh at the idea that the press is free and advertising and corporate influence is a 'fact of life' of the news industry. But that has normally been a sidebar. It has been 'look here is the news' and 'oh look here are some ads'. As a result, people in general are less conscious of the ads that have infiltrated their news.

    By wrapping the paper in an ad, it changes it from a news medium with a bit of ads thrown in, to an advertising medium with a bit of news thrown in.

    Does this functionally make a difference? Well with the state of the newspaper these days, probably not. But it does change the tone of it significantly.

    Ads help the paper to survive. Newspapers need advertising revenue in order to deliver the news. That's fine, but by allowing the advertising to take prescience over the news, the dominance of corporate sponsorship approaches a whole new level.

    Immediately, it won't do much. I'm sure the content of that paper was the same as every other day. But I agree that it does cross a line. It's like cheating on a diet - you do it once, and it's hard to go back because, damn that chocolate cake tastes good.

    On the other hand of course, since the media is already saturated with advertising influence, maybe doing things like this could IMPROVE people's media literacy. It's hard to deny the influence ads have on the newspaper if it comes wrapped in it. It's likely not what the advertisers had in mind, but will people become more sceptical as the myth of 'unbiased news' becomes more transparent? If so, maybe crossing this line is a good thing.

    By Anonymous Karolijn, at 9:04 AM  

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