Friday, 26 March 2010
Sold! The Front Page
Timely warning from Steve Dyson on his blog reviewing regional newspapers, hosted by HoldtheFrontPage, about the dangers to the credibility of newspapers willing to sell front page ad-wraps to political parties in the run-up to the General Election.
He shows how the Newsquest-owned Croydon Guardian carried a front page wrap headlined 'Labour's Tax Bombshell' with only a minute script pointing out it was an advert.
Dyson condemns it as "blatantly biased political garbage masquerading as an article" which "made the paper feel like a Tory weapon, despite the tiny 'Advertisement' line."
He adds: "I understand that free newspapers have to incorporate ad-wraps to make their P&Ls work.
"But someone senior in an Ivory Tower somewhere should surely be insisting on minimum design standards, taste and, especially at this pre-election time, political neutrality. I reckon this responsibility is the publishers, in this case a Newsquest director, and that he/she should lay down rigorous expectations to would-be advertisers."
Dyson's opinion seems to be shared by posters to his blog.
Johnston Press Fan Club comments: "When jumped-up little ad reps take the controls, whaddya expect? A poor, poor example of journalism being trampled all over in exchange for a fast buck. Sadly, the know-nothings don't realise a shell of paper cobbled together by a skeleton newsroom is noticeable to readers."
Roy: "A paper crying out for a senior editorial figure with the balls to kick up a stink over this kind of wrap (Ok, much easier said than done, I know, but I hope at least they put up a fight). And Steve, 40 pages of property advertising will only make the opposing MD salivate if it's being sold at a decent rate rather than being given away as a loss-leader, which is the case at some of the other Newsquest South London titles."
AndyP: "And what if the BNP wants to spend 2k on a wraparound? Surely they can't accept one blatant propaganda sheet while turning down the next. It'll all end in tears..."