Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Oregonian tinkers with spadea ad

This morning’s Oregonian “spadea” (the splashy half-wrap ad starting on the front page) provides graphic proof that, contrary to his "To our readers" note from Sunday, Publisher Chris Anderson has had concerns about how the huge front-page-engulfing ad appeared on Sunday.

See my earlier post HERE.

The evidence is three changes in today’s version of the ad. They are exactly the kind that only a publisher with misgivings would require of an advertiser.

The ad has been tinkered with to make it more clear that it isn’t, repeat is NOT, an Oregonian house ad for its editorial board position opposing measures 66 and 67.

The “Paid Advertising” notice at the top of the anti-measure 66 and 67 ad has been increased in type size and weight. (See side-by-side comparison above.)

That change still assumes that readers know what “Paid Advertising” means. Don’t count on it.

Some, perhaps many, might think this ad, which fits hand in glove with the paper’s editorial board position, is simply a “house” ad. That’s advertising in which the newspaper advertises itself. Could this be one of those? Such advertising presumably "costs" the paper in space that might otherwise be sold. In a sense it is “paid” for by the paper.

Readers simply don’t know enough about these distinctions, especially when the very first line of the ad reads “The Oregonian’s editorial board urges voters to VOTE NO on Measures 66 and 67.”

Whose voice is that? Sure sounds like The Oregonian’s.

Another change. The quote from the Oregonian editorial is no longer “boxed” with a color background. Now it is depicted as a torn-out clipping with a ragged “torn” border. (See above photo comparison.) Presumably the new graphic device is to indicate that the advertisers have torn out and are “using” the editorial. The earlier boxed version might have suggested collusion with the paper.

And yet another change. At the bottom of each page of today’s version is the line reading “Paid for by Oregonians against Job-Killing taxes.” On Sunday, the ID was limited to the last page.

Why these changes? Why were they needed, especially after Anderson so unequivocally defended the spadea in his Sunday note “To our readers.”

Could Anderson’s reader-blind decision-making and these unacknowledged tinkerings be signs of more trouble ahead for the beleaguered Oregonian?

Note: Several readers have written Anderson on-line to say the line between advertising and editorial content has been breached and that they are canceling their home subscriptions.

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