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 . . .