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?

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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 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?


Boston Globe Still Won’t Admit Citgo $ign Conflict

March 6, 2017

From yesterday’s $tately local broadsheet:

 

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As the hardreading staff has dutifully noted for the past year, the Boston Globe has entirely omitted from its extensive coverage of the Citgo sign rumpus any mention that the paper has gleaned at least $25,000 from Save the Sign ads like this one.

 

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(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, $25,000 is lunch money at the John Henry Gazette, but it’s lunch money the paper should disclose whenever it moans about the Citgo sign’s ultimate fate.

(To be clear graf goes here)

To be clear, it’s not the fault of Globe reporter Tim Logan that his many Citgo sign pieces have lacked disclosure. The fault lies with the Globe’s editors.

Regardless, given the latest assault on the Kenmore Square icon, it’s not unreasonable to expect there will be more ads forthcoming from the Boston’s Sign campaign. Oh, wait – like this full-page ad that coincidentally appeared in yesterday’s Globe.

 

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Here’s something else that’s not unreasonable: To expect the Globe to disclose its financial interest in the Citgo sign whenever the paper covers that story.

But don’t hold your breath.


Globe Fails to Disclose Financial Interest in Citgo Sign

July 13, 2016

As the hardreading staff recently noted, the Boston Globe has been less than forthcoming in its coverage of the quest for giving landmark status to the renowned Citgo sign.

That’s because the Globe has not disclosed that the paper has profited nicely from Citgo’s campaign to save the Kenmore Square icon.

(Boston University – where the hardreading staff moonlights as a mass communication professor – is looking to sell the Commonwealth Avenue building the Citgo sign sits atop.)

To recap the $tately local broadsheet’s connection:

Citgo has spent tens of thousands of dollars over the past few months running ads such as these in the Globe.

 

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But no Globe stories – including today’s report that “[a] city board voted to launch the process of making the iconic electric sign an official city landmark” – have mentioned the paper’s financial profit from Citgo’s ad campaign.

As we have said before:

Rough estimate: At least eight quarter-page ads costing maybe $20,000.

So you say – $20,000? That’s lunch money at the Boston Globe.

True. But it’s lunch money the Globe should mention whenever it covers the Citgo sign rumpus.

 

And so we say again.


The Boston Globe’s Citgo Sign Conflict of Interest

July 1, 2016

From our Late to the Rescue Party desk

The $tately local broadsheet really needs to get better at full disclosure.

Wednesday’s Boston Globe featured this piece about the impending sale of the Kenmore Square building that the fabled Citgo sign sits upon.

Push to protect the Citgo sign

Commission to consider bid for landmark status

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Despite the Citgo sign’s storied spot on the Boston skyline, there are no city protections to keep it there.

Now, there’s a growing push to change that.

The Boston Landmarks Commission next month will take up a measure that could grant official landmark status to the sign above Kenmore Square. And an online petition supporting that plan received nearly 1,100 signatures in its first four days.

 

Back story: As the hardreading staff has dutifully noted, Boston University plans to sell 660 Beacon Street and several other adjoining buildings, but has has not made keeping the Citgo sign a condition of the sale. So, as the Globe piece reported, the Boston Preservation Alliance has launched a Change.org campaign to save the landmark sign.

But what the Globe piece did not report is that Citgo has run a series of Globe ads extolling the virtues of its sign.

Representative samples:

 

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Rough estimate: At least eight quarter-page ads costing maybe $20,000.

So you say – $20,000? That’s lunch money at the Boston Globe.

True. But it’s lunch money the Globe should mention whenever it covers the Citgo sign rumpus.

Or is that just us.


Citgo Throws a Few Pennies at the Boston Herald

May 15, 2016

As the hardreading staff has noted on numerous occasions, Citgo has lately been running quarter-page ads in the Boston Globe celebrating its Kenmore Square sign, whose future is uncertain now that Boston University is looking to sell the buildings beneath it.

Representative sample:

 

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We’ve asked Citgo’s public affairs manager Fernando Garay why the company doesn’t run ads in the Boston Herald, but he’s been a private affairs manager to us, not deigning to respond to multiple inquiries.

However . . .

Splendid reader Sam Doran has sent us this:

The print Herald may be thirsty for Citgo Sign ads, but CyberHerald’s got them. I just noticed a banner at the top of the mobile site. Two screenshots are attached. Tapping the banner led to bostoncitgosign.com (second screenshot).

 

Said screenshots:

 

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Of course, it costs pennies on the (print) dollar for Boston Herald digital ads, but no doubt the thirsty local tabloid is thankful for whatever Citgo sends its way.

Still, Citgo’s sign to the Herald (and Two-Daily Town) remains . . . the middle finger.


Citgo Sign to Two-Daily Town: The Middle Finger

May 5, 2016

As the hardreading staff has noted over the past week or so, Citgo has been running ads in the Boston Globe (but not the Boston Herald) celebrating the landmark Kenmore Square  Citgo sign, which might be endangered when Boston University sells the buildings beneath it.

Here’s yesterday’s installment of the feel-good ads.

 

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When the ads first appeared, we contacted Citgo’s public affairs manager Fernando Garay, who said he’d be glad to answer a few questions via email. So we sent him this:

Thanks for getting back to [us] so quickly, Mr. Garay.

A few questions:

Are the Boston Globe ads indeed tied to the uncertain future of the Citgo sign?

What kind of response did you get to the ads?

Have you run ads in other media outlets? Did you consider running these two in the Boston Herald?

Do you have plans to run ads in the future or expand your social media efforts beyond #CITGOsign on Twitter?

Thank you [and etc.].

 

No reply.

So we queried again.

No reply.

Finally, we sent this last night:

Dear Mr. Garay,

All due respect, but if you weren’t willing to answer [our] questions about the Citgo sign ads in the Boston Globe, why did you say “Please send me your questions via email and I will get back to you with responses”?

For the third time, [our] questions:

Are the Boston Globe ads indeed tied to the uncertain future of the Citgo sign?

What kind of response have you gotten to the ads?

Have you run ads in other media outlets? Did you consider running any in the Boston Herald?

Do you have plans to run ads in the future or expand your social media efforts beyond #CITGOsign on Twitter?

Sincerely,

[The hardreading staff]

 

Citgo: Proud to touch so many lives. Just not to answer any questions about it.


Citgo Strong? More Globe Ads to Save Landmark Sign

April 28, 2016

When we last left the Saga of the Citgo Sign, the company had run these two ads in Sunday’s Boston Globe.

 

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We thought the ads were interesting in light of the uncertain fate of the landmark Citgo sign, and we said we’d look into them further.

But splendid reader Greg Turner beat us to the punch.

Your blog post about the Citgo sign just caught my eye; I’m a BU grad and big fan of the landmark. I clicked around the web and it would appear that Citgo itself is behind the Globe ads.

The hashtag you highlighted matches up with this web page – http://www.bostoncitgosign.com/ – which has the same “Boston’s Sign logo” and the photos that are used in the ad. For example: This one and this one are in both places.

The ad campaign is obviously keeping the “petroleum corporation” part of Citgo in the background!

 

Well, that got us to contact Citgo’s public affairs manager Fernando Garay yesterday and he said he’d be glad to answer a few questions so we sent him this:

Thanks for getting back to [us] so quickly, Mr. Garay.

A few questions:

Are the Boston Globe ads indeed tied to the uncertain future of the Citgo sign?

What kind of response did you get to the ads?

Have you run ads in other media outlets? Did you consider running these two in the Boston Herald?

Do you have plans to run ads in the future or expand your social media efforts beyond #CITGOsign on Twitter?

Thank you [and etc.].

 

A day later, no word yet from Mr. Garay. But the ads did run again in today’s Globe (and not – again – in the Boston Herald).

 

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Signing off, for now . . .


Who’s Behind the Boston Globe Ads for #CITGOsign?

April 25, 2016

As you splendid readers might recall, Boston University announced several months ago that it is selling a group of Kenmore Square buildings atop of which sits the Citgo sign.

From BU Today:

BU May Sell Kenmore Square Properties

Deal includes building with iconic Citgo sign

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As part of a four-decade-long effort to upgrade Kenmore Square, Boston University has hired a broker to manage the sale of several high-profile buildings it owns in the square, including the one that houses Barnes & Noble at BU and supports the iconic Citgo sign, which has loomed over the square since 1965.

Gary Nicksa, senior vice president for operations, says the University will work with Newmark Grubb Night Frank, known as Newmark, to sell the properties, which include 334,000 square feet of commercial space, now occupied by Barnes & Noble, Bertucci’s restaurant, Cornwall’s Pub, and several other tenants. The nine buildings that will be put on the market line the north side of Kenmore Square, from 648 Beacon Street to 541 Commonwealth Avenue and 11-19 Deerfield Street.

 

That, of course, went over like the metric system, leading to plaintive articles such as this Business section piece last month in the Boston Globe.

Five Things You Should Know About the Citgo Sign

The fate of the Citgo sign is once again the talk of the town. From its perch high above Kenmore Square, the illuminated sign has been an integral part of Boston’s skyline for decades, but now faces an uncertain future as Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 4.15.26 PMBoston University tries to sell the building below it. What will happen when the property at 660 Beacon St. changes hands and a new landlord takes over? That remains to be seen. For now, the Citgo sign still shines brightly.

Here are five things you may not know about this familiar landmark.

1 It has a long history. The roots of the sign go back to 1940, when the Cities Service Co. opened a divisional office at 660 Beacon St. and installed a huge neon sign on the roof of the building . . .

 

And etc.

Now the Citgo sign is back in the Globe, but in advertising form on page A3 of yesterday’s edition.

 

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Close-up view:

 

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The ads come from Boston’s Sign (not to be confused with Boston Sign, whose website does not include the Citgo sign). The ad does steer readers to #CITGOsign, which features tweets like these from WCVB’s Maria Stephanos and others.

 

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But . . .

The hardsearching staff has so far been unable to determine who’s behind the Globe ads. We’ll make some phone calls today and keep you posted.