NYT gives MoveOn deep ad discount. Does this harm the Times' reputation?

Right off the bat, let’s stipulate that there are three parts of a newspaper’s content - news coverage, opinion and feature writing, and advertising. And I think we can all agree as a general rule that the content of all of these affect a paper’s reputation to some degree.

However, most fair minded people will give a limited pass to advertising content. After all, a paper has to pay the bills, the content is produced by others, and if it isn’t terribly objectionable, the presumption is that it will be run. Nobody here will fault a paper for not running a particular ad for whatever reason, and nobody will question the right of a paper to discount advertising rates for whatever reason either.

The question for me comes when a paper has pretensions of objectivity in its news coverage, yet deeply discounts a large ad for a political group. The New York Times did this with the recent General Betray Us ad from MoveOn. Normally this ad should cost about $180,000. MoveOn was charged $65,000 instead.

Again, I certainly think the NYT has a right to do what it wishes - but is this sort of deal by a newspaper wise? In an era where both poles of political thought seem to distrust the media, shouldn’t a major media outlet like this one charge political groups the same rate, or drop pretenses to objectivity in news coverage altogether?

You have neglected to substantiate your figures. This is needful before we can bemoan an assault on the Commander of Candor’s integrity, real or no.

There’s a story in the New York Post about the discount if you want details. I’d be curious to hear the Times’ rationale for it but I don’t think lack of a good reason is going to make anyone new start yelling “Liberal media!” or that a perfectly reasonable explanation from the Times will make anyone stop saying it.

Your OP relies on your claim of a difference between the market price for such an ad, and the price that MoveOn paid. Your cite verifies the latter, but not the former, AFAICT.

I’ve run print ads in mags, and the “stated price” is hardly ever the actual price. Marketing firms get discounts. You get discounts for special issues. You get discounts if you agree to run X amounts of ads. You get discounts for starting as a new customer. Sometimes the listed and first quoted price is almost pure fantasy–a 50% drop is not unusual as they get close to ad deadline and they’re not full up. A discount of the size of the MoveOn ad would also not surprise me if, say, they were contracting to run 12 full page ads a year. So I don’t know…might be evil liberal media, but I’m tending to think it’s just the ad biz.

The New York Post? That beacon of non-partisan integrity? Well, then, we are assured, are we not?

We must also obtain some figures for the cost of General Petraeus’ primetime infomercial on the Fox ‘news’ network. Once we have both, we can subtract one number from the other and determine precisely where our outrage should lie.

Your link cites the cost of a full-page ad in the NYT. It also shows a photo of Sen. Cornyn holding up a copy of the ad, which appears to be about three times as long as it is wide.

A page of the NY Times is less than twice as long as it is wide. To me, this suggests that the MoveOn ad wasn’t a full-page ad.

Could anything damage the high regard in which you hold the Times[?]

Wouldn’t the best way to test this be for a right-wing advocacy group to call the NYT and see what price they could negotiate? In the absence of some sort of contrary evidence, this is just like complaining to a car dealership that they are biased towards your neighbor because they paid less than list price for their car.

Maybe the NYT wants to encourage full page advocacy ads during an election season and decides to put them on sale?

Could be. I just got the link from another forum where this same topic came up and thought I’d share it here since I assume it’s the catalyst for the debate. I don’t really have a horse in this race.

I’ll go way out on a limb: people who already think the NYT is biased will say this is proof they are right. Others will disagree. In that sense, it doesn’t hurt their reputation because the people most concerned with the story already think it has a bad reputation.

Maybe the New York Times is just trying to repent for all the free advertising they (in the form of “reporter” Judith Miller) gave the Administration by uncritically printing the fantasies and lies of Iraqi ex-pats associated with Chalabi as if they were actually credible claims in the run-up to the Iraq War !

Unfortunately, those weren’t discounted ads but actual “news” stories!

Why should it hurt its reputation? They’re putting the lies that Bush tells on the front page every day for free. And of the moveon ad, what in it is inaccurate? Did they actually stop counting car bombs as violent acts? Did they actually stop counting shootings in the front of the head as assassinations? If they’re spouting crooked numbers, they should be called on it.

Just a second, there! This thread is about the vile perfidy of the NYT! Don’t try to drag irrelevent issues like truth into this!

I an not an expert on ad marketing, so hearing from an expert in that field is helpful. Thanks Gaudere.

Seems like it reflects reality about as much as does the posted rates of hotel rooms.

That being the case, though, would a similar sweetheart deal be cut to a conservative advocacy group? I don’t think that question can be answered at this time, so this will remain a hypothetical right now.

I am also curious whether equal rates for political candidates are strictly enforced. I’d guess they are, this being covered under different law. But if an unregulated group like MoveOn can get a sweetheart deal from the NYT and a conservative group can’t, does this have campaign finance reform implications?

In any case, this has become a hot topic elsewhere, both because of the content of the ad and because of the apparent deal. It was nice to get other viewpoints here.

I’m rather surprised the content of the ad is not being debated on this board. Or is there a thread I’m unaware of?

Start a thread up if you want. Personally, I don’t think those charges are worthy of much attention, but YMMV.


That’s about as far as I’ll go in a debate based on a groundless hypothetical.

OTOH, I agree with Squink that Petraeus’ cozying up to a partisan Republican outfit is of genuine concern.

That’s an interesting use of the word “exclusive”, considering both Petraeus and Crocker were on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer (PBS) yesterday for at about half the show.