Boston Globe Can’t Stop Pumping for Citgo $ign

March 17, 2017

As the hardreading staff has noted in vain for the past year, the Boston Globe has reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars in Save the Citgo Sign ads. But its coverage of the rumpus over the Kenmore Square icon has never disclosed the paper’s financial interest in the outcome.

Exhibit Umpteen:  Today’s Business section story by Jon Chesto about Boston Signage Syndrome.

On Boston’s skyline, signs can be a tricky business

Jeff Immelt wanted a headquarters sign that could be seen from Mars.

Or at least that’s what the General Electric CEO jokingly told a crowd of local business leaders when he came to Boston a year ago to celebrate the company’s decision to relocate here.

Good luck with that, Jeff. The Boston Planning & Development Agency is reviewing the company’s new sign as part of broader construction plans for its future Fort Point office, and the rooftop logo will have more earthly dimensions, maybe 35 feet in diameter.

Still, the approval of a tower sign in Boston remains a rare gift, one bestowed upon a select few.

 

Among them – yes – the Globe’s own gas light.

The Citgo sign in Kenmore Square probably would never get approved today, and yet it has become a beloved landmark, one that Walsh helped save this week by refereeing lease negotiations.

 

Still, no disclosure.

Hey, Boston media watchers – don’t any of you want a piece of this?

Seriously?


Boston Globe Still Not Disclosing Citgo $ign Conflict

March 16, 2017

During the past year the hardreading staff has painstakingly noted what must be hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Citgo ads like this one that have run in the Boston Globe.

 

 

And yet . . .

Never once in its coverage has the $tately local broadsheet mentioned the paper’s financial interest in the survival of the Kenmore Square icon.

Including today’s Page One piece.

A new lease on life for beacon of Boston

Deal reached to keep Citgo sign in place

The Citgo sign will remain atop its longtime home in Kenmore Square after the petroleum company reached a deal with its new landlord Wednesday, ending a months-long standoff that had threatened one of the most recognized landmarks of the Boston skyline.

The fate of the rooftop sign had been in question since last year, when the building that hosts it was sold by Boston University to Related Beal, a New York-based development company.

 

(To be fair graf goes here)

To be fair, the piece by Adam Vaccaro and Tim Logan does include a sort of drive-by disclosure:

The controversy emerged last fall soon after Related Beal bought a total of nine buildings in Kenmore Square from BU for $134 million. Believing its old lease terms of $250,000 to be far below current market rates, the new landlord had wanted Citgo to pay as much as 10 times that amount.

Citgo had previously countered with an offer to pay $500,000, and had launched a public campaign to rally support behind the sign.

 

Pretty limp, Globeniks. And pretty sad you’re not willing to do the right thing and disclose your financial interest in this story.

But maybe that’s consistent with what editor Brian McGrory said about another recent adberation, which he labeled “part of a larger campaign that is important to the ad client and significant to the Globe.”

Make that $ignificant to the Globe, yeah?


Boston Herald Runs Topless Ad!

March 14, 2017

As the hardreading staff has chronicled in painful detail, the Boston Herald just can’t get any love from the local full-page ad set. All those corporate image, memorial, congratulatory, and damage control ads routinely migrate to the Boston Globe and bypass the thirsty local tabloid.

But today’s edition of the Herald does feature this full-page ad.

 

 

We’re not exactly sure why the vintage Caddy is pictured in the ad – would you really buy time on Boston Herald Radio to sell a used car? Maybe it’s a visual pun, you know, drive sales?

Anyway, memo to Kathleen Rush and Joe LoPilato:

1) Love the car.

2) Why’s it there?

Thanks in advance.


Boston Globe Still Pump$ CITGO Sign Sans Disclosure

March 13, 2017

As the hardreading staff has relentlessly noted for the past year, the Boston Globe is playing financial footsie with Citgo over the Venezuelan oil company’s  quest to obtain landmark status for its iconic Kenmore Square sign.

The $tately local broadsheet has run numerous news reports on the sign’s endangered status and numerous Citgo-purchased ads like this one pleading for the sign’s protection.

 

 

(The hardcounting staff previously estimated that Citgo has spent five figures on Globe ads. We’re a moron. It’s probably more like $200,000.)

Saturday’s Globe featured a slightly mixed reaction from readers in the paper’s latest Citgo-no-go editorial offering.

 

 

 

Then, as night follows day, Sunday’s Globe featured this full-throated Citgo ad.

 

 

The Globe’s resolute refusal to disclose its financial interest in the Citgo sign rumpus is just one more sign of the paper’s increasingly questionable efforts to generate new revenues.

We totally get the Globe’s need to find new sources of revenue to keep the paper afloat.

What we don’t get is its willingness to risk editorial integrity to achieve that goal.

P.S. Citgo has run exactly zero ads in the Boston Herald so far. Maybe the thirsty local tabloid needs to sign up its newsroom, eh?


Is Anything Not For Sale at the Boston Globe? (II)

March 10, 2017

In response to the hardtsking staff’s post yesterday that the Boston Globe was slowly becoming a sort of Adbnb after pimping out its front page on Tuesday and failing to label an editorial-looking ad on Wednesday, splendid reader Mark Laurence submitted this comment:

I don’t get your point. What is it about the Total Wine ad that doesn’t look like an ad to you? Did the graphics look too nice? There wasn’t a single sentence of text on the whole page, something you’d expect in a news story. If you want to complain about fake ads, how about the occasional Herald “road trips” to Florida or some other place that include advertising slogans and graphics in the middle of their reporter’s copy?

 

Well said, and an excellent opportunity to express some of the things we should have included in the original post.

All reasonable questions, Mark. I know it looks like an ad (although the Total Wine typeface feels kind of similar to Globe section headers), and there’s no text other than merchandise listings, etc.

But . . .

The Globe has traditionally labeled full-page ads that looked a lot more like ads with ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT across the top of the page. Beyond that, newspapers are getting into so many other businesses (e.g. the New York Times: Travel agency, educational institution, retailer, conference center . . . see here for further details), it could easily be the Globe selling wine on that page.

My point is this: Stealth marketing erodes editorial credibility incrementally, not all at once. Sort of the way authoritarianism erodes democracy, except not as serious. I’m more concerned with the Globe’s BMC sellout than any relaxation of ad labeling, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the latter.

As for the Herald, I’ll keep an eye out for the next time the paper sheds an adificial light on the Sunshine State.

 

That’s all for now. But more, we’re guessing, to come . . .


Is There Anything Not For Sale at the Boston Globe?

March 9, 2017

As the hardreading staff duly noted, on Tuesday the Boston Globe pimped out – for the first time – its front page to the Boston Medical Center.

 

 

The redoubtable Dan Kennedy had this Broadsheet Confidential report at WGBH News.

Globe Editor McGrory Defends Placement Of Front-Page Boston Medical Center Ad

The print edition of [Tuesday’s] Boston Globe includes a banner advertisement that appears above the nameplate at the very top of the page. The ad, for Boston Medical Center, promotes that institution’s addiction services. The placement is unusual enough to have prompted a message to the staff late Monday night from Globe editor Brian McGrory:

Just a heads up to everyone that we have an unorthodox ad on the front page of tomorrow’s print Globe. There’s a copy of it at the bottom of this email. As you’ll see, it’s the same shape and size as our regular strip ads on the front, but it’s at the top of the page rather than the bottom.

We didn’t permit this lightly. The cause of fighting addiction is a noble and vital one. The institution involved, the Boston Medical Center, plays an important role in our community on this and many other issues. And we don’t intend this to be a regular ad position. This is part of a larger campaign that is important to the ad client and significant to the Globe.

Any issues or questions, feel free to raise or ask. Otherwise, thanks as always for your commitment to great journalism.

Brian

 

So the commitment to great journalism includes accommodating what’s “important to the ad client and significant to the Globe.”

Because they’re both on the side of the angels, right?

Except . . .

Yesterday’s edition of the Globe makes the $tately local broadsheet look like it’s on the side of the angles.

From Wednesday’s Food section, what at first glance looks like a two-page editorial spread:

 

 

Wait – where’s the ADVERTISEMENT   ADVERTISEMENT    ADVERTISEMENT at the top of page G3?

 

 

Apparently in someone’s desk drawer at the Globe.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, the hardtsking staff can be a bit over-fastidious at times. But still, you have to wonder: How often will what’s important to the ad client and $ignificant to the Globe now dictate the aditorial content of the paper?

Or is the Globe content merely to be the Adbnb of whatever renters come its way?


Advertiser Moves Into Penthouse at Boston Globe

March 8, 2017

Metaphorically speaking, that is.

The hardreading staff’s memory isn’t what it used to be, but we can’t recall the Boston Globe ever selling the top of Page One to an advertiser.

Until yesterday.

 

 

Oddly enough, there’s no Boston Medical Center ad inside yesterday’s edition, the way you’d normally expect. Then again, the front-page banner might be just a teaser. (We’re writing this around midnight on Tuesday, so we’ll update in the AM.)

Coincidentally, yesterday the Wall Street Journal sold the same Page One real estate to another medical facility, NewYork-Presbyterian.

 

 

Again, we admit that we’re fast approaching our dotage, but we also don’t remember the Journal ever turning its top floor into a sort of Adbnb.

The monetization of newspaper front pages has evolved from Shabbat notices on Page One of the New York Times to full-fledged takeovers of front pages to whatever this new phase is.

Not for nothing, but NewYork-Presbyterian could only rent the basement at today’s Times.

 

A whole new version of Upstairs/Downstairs, eh?

P.S. No Boston Medical Center ad in today’s Globe. Huh.