Sunday, May 17, 2009

Post screams too loud: Buy, buy, buy!

"The Sunday Denver Post ." That's the proud banner of today's newspaper atop everything on its front page but the Post's slogan: "Voice of the Rocky Mountain Empire."

Yet at the very bottom of the same page is a red-white-and-green, three-and-a-quarter-inch-deep commercial -- for Target.

Shame, shame, shame on the Post.


What's the problem with an advertisement on the bottom of the front page of a newspaper? The Wall Street Journal does it. Newspapers across the land are doing it because all of them are failing, because their traditional advertisers are failing to advertise, and those advertisers are stupidly failing to recognize that a local newspaper is still probably the largest advertising venue in a region.

What's the big deal?

Well, what if you had just started listening to 9News at Five, or at ten o'clock, and just after Adele Arakawa finished reading the first sentence of the news station's lead story, she took a moment for a little commercial break from her friends at Target!

Then, there on your screen, like at the bottom of the front page of the Post this morning, were images of watermelon, catsup -- or ketchup, as Heinz clearly chooses to spell it -- cole slaw and pork ribs. And a voice-over on the TV said what it says on the bottom of the front page of the Sunday Denver Post: "Right price. Right when you need it."

And those people dared to toss that newspaper at the foot of my driveway this morning.

I'd almost rather read the rag on my computer screen where I can ignore the ads even more easily than I can ignore what I want to ignore in the printed edition of the Post.

Shame, shame on Dean Singleton. Three days after he was deservedly recognized for the good he has done.

Doesn't he know, as the current chair of the Associated Press, that the reason newspapers are losing their traditional audience is not because old readers are dying off and not being being replaced by younger readers. Younger readers will grow to be older readers and learn the newspaper is where you learn the most useful information.

Newspapers are failing because they no longer serve readers the way they should. Independent of advertisers who finance their pages. Free from the pressure to commercialize every darn thing in a reader's life today.

The reason Internet advertising cannot replace the revenues print advertising brings to a newspaper is because the ads on the 'Net are more easily ignored by readers of content on the Internet than they can be ignored in print.

Readers of news don't want to be bothered by ads. But they can't help paging past them.

That's why the tradition of an ad-free front page was established by the old editors of the newspaper industry. Breaking that tradition may gain a minimal increase in short-term cash flow, but by joining the commerical crowd, a newspaper ends its public service to readers who are more interested in news.

No wonder newspapers fall away into the 'Net, and, once there, don't even come close to producing the dollars they have made with printed versions.

Stand up for your readers, Dean Singleton! Be a press baron worthy of the name.

Print the news and print your ads, but allow the reader to choose what's more important, more beautiful, more interesting, more demanding of a reader's attention. Take away that choice and there's no doubt they will leave you like a wet rag in the driveway in the rain.

Where's the value in picking you up?

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