lateralsymmetry asks: The story of the Seattle Times running an ad for a gubernatorial candidate (ostensibly to raise recognition of their own advertising power) is garnering them a lot of criticism. My question: how does running an ad for a candidate differ from writing an endorsement? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
» SFB says: Newspapers are set up with separators between the various departments, including news, editorial and advertising. The goal is that they’re not supposed to have influence on what they do for one another, especially financially. The Seattle Times making an endorsement in their editorial pages shouldn’t have an effect on their coverage, and political ads shouldn’t have an effect on the news coverage or the editorial page. The Seattle Times, on the other hand, ran political ads for a candidate and cause the management supported in an effort to promote the value of political advertising in print. This was a bad idea — mainly because it set a terrible precedent. (And also, there’s this thing called the Ad Council which does this kind of thing already.) If someone bought the ad for Rob McKenna in the Times, it would’ve cost them nearly $80,000. To put it simply: The editorial section doesn’t have a financial interest in sharing their views. The ad department, however, does. And they basically overstepped their bounds, putting the news and editorial departments in a very tough spot. How can the paper report objectively on the election now that they’ve run a full-page ad supporting the Republican candidate? The editorial page is hidden away from this kind of influence for a reason. The Seattle Times threw the separation between departments out the window by running this ad. And, as a large metropolitan daily, they deserve the criticism they’re getting. — Ernie @ SFB