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The line looks blurry

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by MightyMouse, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. MightyMouse

    MightyMouse Member

    OK, so I need some perspective here.

    The editor came to me today and told me that we were going to run a 4-page wrap for one of the local college hockey teams -- call it Team A. Content-wise it's 50-50 between ads and editorial. That's not necessarily a problem.

    Enter the gray area:

    We have three other area colleges/universities with ice hockey teams. When I asked, I was told that we cannot include any of those teams in the wrap, because Team A "is sponsoring it."

    Team A's coach has the pub's ear, and talked him into doing this. Regarding the ad content, Team A isn't buying all of the ad space. I don't think it's buying any. The team is "sponsoring" the section.

    As for editorial, we are supposed to provide that content.

    Which leads me to what I see as a danger area: Are we basing an editorial decision on who's paying our bills? Honestly, I feel dirty just thinking about it. We're selling sponsorship to our sports section?!

    I'll admit, I'm not the most objective person where Team A is concerned (there's a lot of history there that I don't want to get into), which is part of the reason I'm posting this.

    Is this business as usual? Am I naive to hope that we should dictate our own coverage, and not base those decisions on who pays us the most?

    Yeah, those are loaded questions, but that's why I'm here -- Perspective.
     
  2. mrbigles01

    mrbigles01 Member

    I feel dirty reading this. I would be as shocked as you if this came to me at my job. Perhaps my lack of experience (only about 3 years) makes me as naive as you, but my gut reaction is that the whole thing is just wrong.
     
  3. JimmyHoward33

    JimmyHoward33 Well-Known Member

    I guess it depends on how it was sold to the ad buyers. If its sold as "our college hockey tab" then its kind of misleading. If it was presented as "want some space in our Team A tab" then its fine.

    Depends on the demo too. If you're in Boston and you're writing about just BC while ignoring BU its a different animal than being in say Minnesota and doing a tab on the Gophers while ignoring a couple local D3s.
     
  4. Matt Stephens

    Matt Stephens Well-Known Member

    You could stick it to the man by writing a column in the tab ripping the college. And a full blown enterprise piece exposing how dirty the program is.

    Maybe not the best idea for your paper, but I'd sure applaud you.

    In seriousness, do you mind if I ask if you feel like your job could be at stake if you stood by principles your editor doesn't seem to care about?
     
  5. MightyMouse

    MightyMouse Member

    Because it's coming from the publisher, I think a principled stand would leave me with just my principles, and, unfortunately, those don't pay the rent.

    I have every intention of voicing my misgivings to the editor in our weekly 1-on-1 meeting, but at the end of the day, I don't see any way that this doesn't happen.
     
  6. MightyMouse

    MightyMouse Member

    Yeah, I'm not sure how they're selling the ads. As for the demo, it's D-III hockey all around. Team A is a little more local than the others, but all are well within our circulation.

    I know the other schools are going to call and ask why we're giving all that press to Team A. I don't like the idea of telling them that if they are willing to pony up, we can do the same thing for them.
     
  7. nck228

    nck228 Member

    I have to agree with everyone else's sentiment about it feeling wrong/dirty. If they want to promote themselves in the newspaper, they can buy regular ad space just like everyone else.

    And good luck explaining the all-out Team A coverage to the other teams and those readers who follow those teams... I'd brace for a few angry calls from people arguing that "you are all Team A homers and always have been!" (I'm not saying you guys are by any means, but that's how it's going to look in the eyes of the reader)

    EDIT: After reading your last two posts, MightyMouse, I feel even stronger about it being completely wrong. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if Team A asks the publisher to send them a copy of the wrap before it runs so they can approve it.
     
  8. dirtybird

    dirtybird Active Member

    How does a team "Sponsor" something without buying ads?
     
  9. Cubbiebum

    Cubbiebum Member

    Yeah I wouldn't write shit for that section. I would refuse to put my name on it. As I view it that is all I have. I have my name and I will protect its reputation no matter what.

    Under no circumstances is the content of the paper changed due to ads or sponsorships. That's a stance I will always stand with.
     
  10. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    I'd advise the publisher that you are going to send all of the complaint calls of "Why isn't Team B and Team C getting any coverage?" to him.

    It probably wouldn't work, but it'd at least give him some pause and maybe make him re-think a few things.

    Or, if nothing else, see if you can get him to allow you to put "Advertising supplement" at the top of each page of the wrap, so others know that it is a paid-for sheets, not news coverage.
     
  11. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    Yeah, interesting. That makes you an ad writer I guess.
     
  12. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    I'm surprised a section on a crappy D-III program would bring in ad revenue.
     
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