One of the responses we received from readers of THE ESTATES MATRIX was that we were a bit hard on the role of advertising in MainStream.

Please tell us why it is not a conflict of interest to publish on page A-1 of the 24 February WaPo a He Said / She Said story on the Dominion Power transmission line along the Rappahannock River and then run a full page color image ad for Dominion Power on page A 20 with the opening text: Every Day Dominion Biologist George Birdsong helps Hundreds of fly fishermen enjoy Virginia’s Catch.”

Back on 8 February Jim Bacon noted the arrival of a new Publisher / Media Chief at the Washington Post Co. Jim’s post “Who Will Report the News? WaPo Gets New Publisher” raised the right issues but received no comments.

The new publisher, Katharine Weymouth, was – before her promotion – the Vice President of Advertising.

A strange place from which to select a new “publisher?

Today’s WaPo Section A is 18 pages and four of those pages are full color image ads for energy Enterprises and energy Enterprise supported Institutions. Each one includes material or suggests interpretations that those concerned with shrinking human’s ecological footprint would question.

MainStream Media is now the mouthpiece of Second Estate Enterprises. They no longer have a way to play an honest role in the Fourth Estate.


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  1. Not Guy Incognito Avatar
    Not Guy Incognito

    Three major problems.

    First: News departments 99% of the time tell the advertising folks to get the hell out of the newsroom when they come down and even begin to try to influence coverage. I’ve done it dozens of times. You sometimes will tell the ad guys that there’s a story coming up that might piss off a major advertiser so they can do some damage control – but at any real newsroom that will NOT affect coverage one iota.

    Don’t think of a newspaper or a tv newscast as a whole, but a sum of its parts. The ad guys sell, and the news guys write.

    When did Dominion buy the ad? These things (especially a full pager) don’t happen overnight.

    Secondly: Publishers/GM’s rarely come from the news side, but the business side. Pretty standard. They know business and how to run one. It’s always been like that.

    Thirdly: This is the Post you’re talking about – a newspaper that takes ethics seriously.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Superlative innuendo.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Yes… I thought it was a strange coincidence to see that huge Dominion Power ad the same day WP runs a lead story on the power line controversy. Since there was obviously coordination with the ad placement it made me wonder how much review and coordination Dominion Power had in the story itself… Tobias Jodter

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Almost always, the publisher comes from the sales/ad side. Many are sleazeballs. The only one I know any different is Bacon

    Plus, the Post, like all other papers, is having extreme trouble meeting margin goals.

    Peter Galuszka

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Let’s think about this….

    Perhaps Dominion’s ad rep at The Post got a call from the newsroom a few days/weeks ago saying something along the lines of, “The Dominion Story we have been working on will be running around the 27th or 28th of the month. You might want to let them know.”

    Like any good ad rep he picks up the phone and calls his client to let them know the “news” so they are not surprised when they see the paper.

    The marketing people at Dominion get t/g and decide that the best thing to do is to buy an ad that will coincide with the story (FYI – the Dominion ad that was referenced is not new. It has been run before).

    I think this is a much more likely scenario then an outright conspiracy b/w the editors and the marketing people at Dominion.

    In addition, Dominion could have taken a different route. They could have told The Post to “shove it” and pulled all of their advertising. It happens, trust me. It just never makes the paper.


  6. E M Risse Avatar

    Well considered thoughts all.

    I do not have a bone to pick with any of the points but beleive all are missing the larger issue:

    No one should be looking for a Villain. There are none.

    What has happened, as we outline in THE ESTATES MATRIX, is that MainStream Media has been bought out of the Fourth Estate and are now part of the Second (Enterprise) Estate.

    Journalists, regardless of their personal perspective have no choice. There is no alternative if the want to work but to work in Enterprise promotion and advertising because there is not yet any Citizen Media.

    The only fools here are citizens who think they can rely on MainStream Media for more than advertising and He Said / She Said Journalism.

    More on that in an analysis of a WaPo story from today (“An Upside for the Middle Class”) in the next edition of BR.


  7. Anonymous Avatar

    If they want to work in Citizen Media, then Citizen Media is going to have to learn to turn a profit. This is going to come from advertising to promote consumption or from special interests to promote a viewpoint.

    Pick your poison.


  8. Anonymous Avatar

    Laughing all the way…

    I have not spoken to Dr. Risse in the last two days but I am sure he is laughing all the way to his client’s office over RH’s (aka Ray Hyde’s) comment of 6:13 PM on the two alternatives for supporting Citizen Media.

    Having discussed this topic recently with Dr. Risse, I know he has a “third way” up his sleeve. By clearly stating the conventional wisdom re Citizen Media, RH has reinforced the S/P strategy.

    For recent readers: As noted by members of the Z Team in past posts, Dr. Risse does not respond to RH comments. This is not because of the shallow, unfounded attacks on Dr. Risse’s posts and comments but due to Mr. Hyde having intentionally insulted and embarrassed a long time resident of Fauquier County at a public meeting a number of years ago. The elderly gentleman who was admired by many died not long after Mr. Hyde started his attacks on Dr. Risse and Dr. Risse feels it is the least he can do to honor this persons memory.

    Alpha Zeus
    Z Team Member

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    I don’t recall the gentleman in question, nor do I wish to disrespect the deceased, however, if he was insulted and embarassed, then my comments must have been correct and on target.

    Otherwise he could easily set me straight in the same public meeting.


  10. Anonymous Avatar

    Since there is not yet any Citizen Media, according to EMR, a third way to support it should’t take vey much.

    But, if he intends to create it and invent a third way to support it (maybe subscriptions, like public radio? Endowments?, Public funds?), that will be a considerable feat, which I will applaud when it happens.

    What you see as shallow attacks I see as observations that are outliers in his view of the data. If he chooses not to comment on them, it doesn’t change the observation. Anyway, by now you must agree that the “shallow attacks” are directed without discrimination.

    I call them as I see them and even support EMR when he’s got a good idea. But if he expects to have a citizen media than he should expect to have some citizens participate that he may not agree with. Disdain doesn’t make much of an argument.

    The Center For Citizen Media (How’s that for an oxymoron?) has published a series of articles on the businsess issues of funding.

    The methods they studied were affiliate programs, memberships/subscriptions, branding/promotion/support, merchandising, donations, and (TA DA!) ad space.


  11. Anonymous Avatar

    RH re your 12:20 comment:

    Lets say this was a public hearing with time limits and a speakers list with not repeats allowed and you spoke after the gentleman in question…

    Given your crass tone, it is clear to see why you are not held in high regurad in your community.

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Nicely put Anon 3:22 PM!

    If RH had actually read the material he takes shots at he would know that Dr. Risse has addressed the Center For Citizen Media issue.

    Zoro and Zora

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    “Lets say this was a public hearing with time limits and a speakers list with not repeats allowed and you spoke after the gentleman in question…”

    Sure, let’s say that. But let’s only say it if it was the case in fact. I don’t recall the case in question, or the events, so I have no way of knowing.

    I don’t think I have to make an apology for the rules of public hearings. If you favor public participation, it is best to enjoy dissent.

    Some people don’t hold me in high regard. Usually they are the type that don’t understand that only your real friends tell you when your face is dirty. For myself, I don’t much value the kind of esteem gained by licking boots.


  14. Anonymous Avatar

    For what it’s worth, I’m glad EMR has addressed the Center for Citizen Media issue.


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