Newspapers Exposed: Publications to Sell Pieces of Themselves
It took about five minutes after the story got out for The Post to announce it was cancelling plans to charge corporations $25,000 for the privilege of sponsoring dinners at the publisher’s house, where their executives could mingle with Post reporters and honchos from the White House and Congress. This idea certainly gets the “What Were They Thinking?” Award for the week. But these dinners may be just the tip of the iceberg. I have it on good authority that the The Post Company actually will sell entire pages of its newspaper (or smaller acreages) to almost anyone who can foot the bill. Buyers -- often corporations -- can use this space almost any way they want, be it to express a view on health care reform, or to allege that all deli meats are on sale for this weekend only. Whatever the message, the corporation is allowed to express it without any interference from the writers and editors in The Post newsroom.
And The Post is not alone. Every other newspaper in the world, most magazines, and even web sites will sell you a piece of themselves, if you know who to ask. Tempted? Go to the publication’s Web site and look for someone with the title of “publisher,” or “advertising director,” or vice-president/marketing. He or she very likely will carry, and attempt to force on you, a document called a “rate card,” which brazenly lists the publication’s prices for pieces of various sizes.
Even if all this is perfectly innocent, it certainly creates an appearance of impropriety. And now that I have exposed it, I trust that it will stop.
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