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Marianne Paskowski

CBS First to Buy Ad on New York Times’ Front Page

January 6, 2009 11:37 AM

The New York Times

If we didn’t know for sure how bad things in the media economy are, the New York Times, the venerated gray lady of newspapers, sold its first front-page ad to CBS Television. The ad runs at the bottom of the page, spanning all six columns.

As a longtime editor and journalist, I’ve had a history of battles with publishers who wanted to cross what has become an ever-blurring line between church and state. Not that this example is a blur of that line, for the CBS ad is clearly marked as an ad.

I know a lot of journalists who are decrying the NYT’s decision, but I’m not one of them. Clearly media’s economics need tweaking during this pervasive recession, and if that ad keeps newspapers alive and prevents future job losses, I’m all for it.

I’m sure this was a difficult decision for the Times, which is already mortgaging its real estate in New York and selling its 17% ownership in the Boston Red Sox.

And for CBS, this was a coup. Am I wrong?


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Comments (20)

David Cohen:

I'm STILL getting used to the fact that the Times uses color!

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi David,
I was stunned when I first saw this, especially the size of the headline on the ad is much larger than any of the news headlines.

But it's not in violation with the American Society of Magazine Editors' standards.

Hey, and remember even the WSJ uses color!


Unfortunately, I missed the NYTimes yesterday, but as you describe it, I think it's fine.

The editorial coverage is another story -- that has and will continue to hurt their bottom line more than anything.

Marianne Paskowski:


Whoa, you and I will agree to disagree. The NYT's is the best newspaper in the country. Obviously, I am a left of center liberal.....mp

Peter G.:

MP, Good blog. I was surprised at a small Nugget... The NYT is selling its interest in The Red Sox? The Red Sox are as close to a recession-proof business as you can get. They have a regional(six state) fan base which assures a Fenway sellout for each game. They consistantly put a very competitive team on the field. They have a tuned-in management team, and a terrific farm system of future major league players. Why would you sell an interest in a well run business such as that?

Marianne Paskowski:

Yep, that's how bad things are in media land. I now live in the so-called "Red Sox nation" and know people who travel to Baltimore to see their team play because they can't get into Fenway.

I've only been once, but that's OK, I'm still a Yankees fan, ...mp

Andy S.:

When I saw your blog today, I went over to the Times' website to see if I could get a better view of the ad (which ran in yesterday's edition, FYI). Alas, they don't offer an image of their front page in a high-enough resolution to be readable!

And maybe that's an indication of where things stand. I've always thought that their downhill slide began when they went from eight columns to six. And while this certainly qualifies as a "headline making" event for CBS, for the Times it may be just one more branch they hit on the way down.

Marianne Paskowski:

The image on this blog of the NYT's front page is sorry to say, hard to read. But if you take out a magnifying glass, I did, as part of fact checking the word "advertisement" is clearly there.

We in media know the metrics aren't right, but who is doing anything to fix this mess?

Hard, when we're in a global recession.

BTW, hated the 8 column format....mp

Jeff Mulligan:


Traditionalists decrying the Times' departure from long-time quality newspaper standards aren't realistic about the environment newspapers at every level of editorial quality now confront: recession, Internet competition, improved cable news, RSS feeds, iPod wikis and growing ranks of youthful readers bored by anything longer than two paragraphs of celebrity gossip. If an advertiser is willing to pay through the nose (CBS better have) to have a tasteful message tucked reasonably discreetly at the foot of the Times front page, thereby investing in a top-notch news reporting organization, so be it. It's a sign of the times (pardon the bad pun).

The traditionalists apparently fixate on a pre-Internet mind set. Or pre-cable TV. Or pre-broadcasting... eras when competition didn't force newspapers to be either innovative nor flexible in adjusting rules ancillary to the heart of their craft.



Yo, Blondie --

What's the fuss? It's just the newspaper's last bastion of integrity slipping into today's mercantile media ooze. I'm sure the folks who write the paper's restaurant, theater, fashion, and lifestyle review pages are having a good laugh. Advertisers do get the best ink! Just wait to see the coverage of CBS in the coming week.

Cruisin not bruisin

Marianne Paskowski:

Here's what got my fellow journalists so ticked off.

It was the headline on the CBS ad: Front Page News.

Confusing at first, let alone the headline on the ad was larger than any other news story on page one.

And, worse yet, I don't think CBS paid that much for a weekday placement.

Such is the world.....mp

Marianne Paskowski:


Well for CBS the ad was cheap, a little, albeit strip ad, but prominent ad on page one of the NYT's compared to other advertising vehicles.

I too, wonder if CBS has a bad quarter, don't they all, will the next negative NYT story be buried in the middle of the paper?

Hope not, m


Hey M,
I know you probably hate the Red Sox (personally don't care for them either) but average joe Yankee fans can't ever see their team in New York either. Every time I've been to a Yankees-Twins games, the Yanks fans talk of how its cheaper to fly to MINNEAPOLIS and see their team than it is to walk down the street in New York.
Okay, just had to throw that in there.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Jason,
Yes, I do hate the Red Sox. Thanks to them we have no local news on Sunday nights as they run and rerun endless games, and now the football team, the Pats.

People get murdered there every day, but these people don't care. I clearly am not a New Englander and prefer New York.

These people, here, are crazy, but harmless. BTW, I saw many Yankee games when I lived in New York, even the playoffs.

But back to the topic, can you even imagine how bad it is at the New York Times when it's selling its 17 percent stake in the mega power of the Red Sox and that includes Fenway Park?


Bobby Amirshahi:

I agree with Jeff - but didn't realize until the last couple of entries that CBS was using the headline "Front Page News." If the below the fold front page ad placements are needed by NYT to generate revenue, that's totally cool but they should apply the same age-old rules to "advertorial" advertising to this space. It should always be instantly recognizable as pure advertising to the reader.

Love-new-media, but-clinging-to-his-print-NYT-subscription-in-Atlanta

Marianne Paskowski:

Good point, I don't like the wording "Front Page News," but it is within ASME guidelines by not using the same typeface as the editorial copy.

Still, it is jarring. Noticed today, there is no ad on the NYT's front page, maybe this ploy is not going over well.



Angst over front page ads isn't new ... Front page ads last had a resurgence about 10 years ago, led by Gannett. SPJ's Quill wrote:

“Since USA Today began running one-inch strip
ads across the bottom of Page One a year ago,” (in October 1999) “more newspaper ad
directors are looking at their front pages and seeing a new way to grow revenue.”
Gannett reportedly makes $5 million annually from front-page ads in USA Today – with
a waiting list of advertisers wanting the costly but prominent space. And, Gannett has
nearly 100 daily newspapers that have been encouraged to exercise the option of
publishing front-page ads.

Is it a newspaper integrity question that has people talking this time -- or is it about the NYT brand and the fear that if the Times (The TIMES, for gosh sakes!??!?) has to do this for revenue, what does it mean for everyone one else, gulp...

Marianne Paskowski:


Had an interesting email since I posted that blog from the former head of the world's largest b2b publisher.

You, he and I see what's coming ahead, nothing good for journalism, as we once knew in on television or in print.

But if ads are labeled clearly, it's the way of the future. For now.

The TIMES and and the CBS "eye" are bleeding or sobbing and making up new "Survivor" rules...m

The prevailing discussion seems slanted towards the blurring between the editorial versus business sides of newspaper journalism, but this ignores the role of the consumer. Without readers there is no business model, and newspaper readership is tanking.

With people seeking information online from a variety of sources, including openly opinionated blogs, I don't think they care about the sanctity of The New York Times' home page. And as previously mentioned, The Wall Street Journal made this move a long time ago, so the issue seems like a non-starter. The bigger issue is identifying a compelling consumer value proposition for printed newspapers in the digital age.

Marianne Paskowski:

bob r.

Your point is well taken, I read everything online, including the WSJ, that I subscribed and pay for.

I actually like most online newspapers better,that provide daily updates, many up here....m

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