Ads creep onto the front pages of newspapers; does it matter?

StarTribune sections Wall St. Journal sections Northfield News sections
I noticed a couple weeks ago that the front page of the Sunday Star Tribune (left photo, click to enlarge) had a big ad banner on the bottom, as did all the other front pages of the paper’s sections except the Opinon and Arts sections. Likewise, the Wall St. Journal (center) and the B/sports section of the Northfield News… but not yet the A section.

Initially this bothered me but then I couldn’t quite answer my own question: How is it any different than ads on the front pages of websites and increasingly, blogs?

2 thoughts on “Ads creep onto the front pages of newspapers; does it matter?”

  1. Yes, of course it matters…….As one critical journalistic standard after another weakens, or disappears entirely, the entire value structure of the Fourth Estate deteriorates, and with that deterioration the inability of the public to rely on what should be a solid information source.

    Think about the change from actual fact-checking to “attributed to” etc(other allusions to fact);what does that do to the accuracy of any statement? Fact-checker positions in a big newsroom have almost disappeared through budget cutting.

    Are we going to let the credibility of our public press deteriorate because they cannot find ways to deal with their lessening bottom line profitability?

    Will e-news, and its proliferation of advertisements and other distracting elements, replace the traditional newspaper? I don’t want it to; I find all the ads and other non-news elements on e-news sites to be too distracting. And I don’t want the Strib to keep deteriorating into more and more non-quality journalism……..but I could be considered to be part of their financial problem, as I quit subscribing some years ago when their “Faith and Values” section was not confined to a page or section, but began to permeate the entire paper.

    I guess newspapers either DON’T listen to their readers, or ARE listening to their readers , and following the predominant comments………….will they react to comments about placement of Advertising?

  2. At least these ads are marked as ads. And indeed they are no worse than ads on the homepages of news websites. The more insidious trend is product placement, particularly common in home design shows, where sponsors like Home Depot get what amounts to a 30-minute infomercial disguised as a real program.
    Many magazines also have product endorsement pages that feature only their advertisers’ products. And the scourge of the industry for years was the fact that women’t magazines did health articles on every topic but smoking because they took so much money from cigarette companies.
    Trade magazines also make huge profits promoting the agendas of their industries. Advertisers long ago realized they could kill criticism by putting all their money into magazines they control.
    Even publications like Minnesota Monthly are largely advertising vehicles, not journalism.
    In fairness, the good old days weren’t that great. Daytime TV shows got the name soap operas because they were dreamed up not as great drama, but as vehicles for selling cleaning products to a captive audience of housewives.

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