Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Journalistic Integrity

A few years ago I worked as a graphic designer at the local newspaper. Well, that is until management decided that even though 90% of their revenue came from advertisements, they didn't actually want to pay designers to create the ads and my entire department was kicked to the curb. But I bitterly digress.

Anyway, when I worked there, the newspaper had an iron clad rule: The Front Page Must Never Contain Advertisements. This rule was drilled into our heads on a daily basis. It wasn't just our newspaper that lived by this credo; everyone from the New York Times all the way down to the Mellonville Post Dispatch followed it as well. The Rule was apparently handed down 500 years ago by Abner T. Journalism or whoever invented the newspaper, and there were to be no exceptions. The Front Page was considered "sacred ground," never to be sullied by the appearance of a crass advert. In the history of newspapers there'd never been an ad on Page One and there never would be.

And so it was. In all the time I worked at the newspaper, they never ran ads on the front page. They could have though-- many local businesses begged and pleaded the editor for a coveted spot somewhere on Page One.

Then a couple of years later the newspaper found a loophole to the Front Page Rule. They started printing small ads on Post-It Notes and sticking them to the front page. When I questioned management about this seeming sacrilege, they said the Post-It Note ads were simply stuck to the front page, they weren't actually printed on it, so they hadn't violated the Rule. Seemed like cheating to me, but hey, whatever lets them sleep at night. 

Even though I haven't worked there for several years now, I assumed the Front Page Rule was still in full effect. Imagine my surprise when I happened across a copy of today's newspaper and saw this:

Say, that looks suspiciously like an... advertisement stretched across the bottom two inches of Page One! But... but that can't be! What about the Front Page Rule? What about the iron clad law? What about the sacred ground? What about Journalistic Integrity?

I guess all that stuff flew right out the window once the shareholders got ahold of the newspaper's grim fourth quarter earnings report. Plaster that thing with revenue-generating ads, STAT!

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