Is the Advertising Fit to Print?

Related Post Roulette

45 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    The Times benefited from being the national paper of record for decades. They had prestige and influence and were important. They just don’t seem to like the stuff that goes with it, like people looking at their local coverage and wondering how it fits into a “national” paper. They always were a local paper though, people just really didn’t notice it until the last few years.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      True but they are still the New York Times and they should cover local stuff for that reason.

      And honestly, the San Francisco Chronicle is a bit of an embarrassment with everything except restaurant reviews. There local coverage seems to be going heavy for a nostalgia-huff pro kind of angle. Look at these Bay Area high school students from 1984, I wonder what they look like now type of stuff. Most San Franciscans seem to think the Chronicle is somewhat embarrassing but it is a local newspaper that still manages to be 7 days a week in print which is saying something.

      The Times has always also gone for upper-middle class readers and did a switch from being conservative to center-left sometime during the mid-20th century. The Post and Daily News and Newsday were always the working class and middle class papers in New York. The Times and Wall Street Journal battled it out for the Upper-middle class and above.

      What is happening I think is that the recession created a kind of well-educated liberal who likes the investigative and arts reporting but not the fluffy real estate kind of reporting or the advertisements for fancy consumer projects. These readers are more Bohemian and probably dislike Tiffany jewelry on aesthetic and moral grounds. These are people who are being priced out of Boreum Hill and are moving to the northern suburbs* instead of Inwood and East New York**.

      The Billfold is interesting because it is a finance/money site as written by liberal arts graduates in their 20s and 30s who feel broke but might or might not be poor. Another interesting thing is that the staff and freelance writers seems to be overwhelmingly women. I am not sure if that is something to note or not.

      *Covered by the NY Times in this hate read:

      **I have a lot of friends with young kids who are largely still resisting moving out of the City but seem to acknowledge that buying a house in the suburbs makes the most sense for their families or will soon enough.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      From my own perspective, the Times’ coverage of New York – not so much that they cover NY, but how they do – actually more negatively affects my perception of New York City than it does the Times.

      It does strike me as suboptimal that two of our national papers are actually urban dailies, though I can’t particularly point to the WSJ as being a whole lot better (maybe USA Today).

      This is an area where I think we could actually be well-served by a degree of media consolidation. or more formal media consolidation. Maybe as local newspapers die, we’ll start seeing City Edition versions of national papers (like the New Orleans edition of the Advocate).Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        What coverage of NY turns you off about New Yorkers? Plenty of my NY friends are also turned off by the real estate sections and the trend pieces in Sunday Styles?

        Are you turned off by coverage given to the local arts scene?

        I get the Times delivered on weekends because I am old-school and like reading a paper version on Sunday. My edition comes with a Monthly Californian Magazine (not produced by the Times) and a monthly San Francisco Arts and Events Calendar.

        People who want a good sports section generally read The Post, The Daily News, and Newsday. Those papers have always had a more working class and middle class readership. The Times still refuses to carry comics and Newsday used to run ads that said “How can you read a paper that doesn’t have the comics?” The average Times reader probably cares more about a special exhibit at the Frick or DIA over sports.

        This raises another issue of what is middlebrow culture. I think foodism has become rather universal and a lot of people make that their luxury purpose. I know many people who don’t care about expensive clothing or cars but they do care about eating at really nice restaurants with moderate to expensive prices. Food has become the acceptable splurge.

        And the Times has gotten more populace. When I was a kid, they probably would have turned up their noses at covering video games and graphic novels. Now they have have a whole section dedicated to Video Games including reviews:

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        NYC comes across in the times as ridiculously materialistic, status-obsessed, and in the overall a place that I would find extremely unpleasant.

        I realize that’s a distorted view, but (along with fictional entertainment) the Times is one of the primary lenses through which I see the city. It honestly doesn’t paint a very positive picture.

        (Nothing to do with the arts coverage.)Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I said this below to Zic but I think there is an interesting left-right alliance when it comes to status and materialism and it all boils down to the fact the anti-materialism is only attractive when it becomes a choice. There is a certain part of the left and right that seriously underestimates that most people are probably okay with material comfort and want to live nicely (and this means consumerism and owning nice things).Report

      • Avatar dhex says:

        i’ve been quoting the guy at :34ish in for years now. hilarious.Report

      • Avatar James K says:


        This is how newspapers work in New Zealand. There are basically two New Zealand newspapers – the New Zealand Herald, which is Auckland’s paper and the various Fairfax media publications, which go by different names, and have different local content, but are about 80% the same newspaper.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @james-k In some individual states, it’s the case that the capital’s newspaper, or the newspaper of the largest city, sort of becomes the de facto state paper. You can get Helena’s paper just about anywhere in Montana, and the same with Boise’s and either of Salt Lake City’s. Which you can get away with for a state (some of them, anyway), or a small country, but becomes more problematic in a large nation in the USA.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        As a subscriber, I’ve always found the Wall Street Journal not to be terribly New-York-centric. If anything, they seem to be China-centric. The real estate and Personal Journal sections aren’t New-York-centric either. I get the impression advertisers are targeting people looking for second or third homes. There are plenty of Miami condo developments advertised.Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Several years ago,t he New Republic had an article about the fall of the great metropolitan dailies in the age of the Internet. It pointed out that the rise of great metropolitan dailies was directly linked to the rise in consumer culture and its accompanying advertisements. Ads for merchants and other people looking for consumers plus subscriptions provided the funding necessary to hire reporters to cover international, national, and local news plus the fun and light sections of the newspaper. New media, at first television and latter the Internet, harmed newspapers by making them a no longer necessary link between merchantas and potential consumers via advertisements.

    In other words, there is nothing new under the sun.Report

  3. Avatar James Hanley says:

    I think they do have a responsibility to cover the local arts and restaurant scene

    Responsibility? I think they should do so if it benefits their bottom line, but I don’t think they have a responsibility. That is, if it’s something that matters to people that the NYT do, then they ought to do it out of self-interest. If it’s something that doesn’t matter to people–other than a few who really really care–then the NYT need not do it all.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      This is where market ideolgoy and the ethics of journalism have an interesting intersection.

      If it doesn’t help the bottom line, the NYT should not cover X.

      That makes sense, but I’m not sure it makes any more sense than:

      If it doesn’t help the bottom line, the NYT should not tell the truth about X.

      Obviously, that’s true to some extent. I mean, if we start to think the NYT is not conveying truth, and the truth is something we care about, we’ll stop buying it, right? If the truth doesn’t matter to us, we’ll keep buying all the lies that they profit from printing.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I think I must be missing the point you are making. Almost everyone distinguishes between sins of omission and sins of commission. Even Wild West Libertarians are against fraud.

        So if a paper doesn’t cover X, that’s one thing. If they lie about X, that’s another.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        OK, so now if we’re going to cover X, we can’t lie about it. But do we have to tell the whole truth? Can I simply tell part of the truth, even if leaving out the other stuff suggests that something is going on that isn’t, or that something’s not going on when it is? Is that a sin of commission or ommission? Is it fraud, or just doing what James suggests at a particular point in covering X, rather than before covering X at all?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        You can lie, to an extent anyway. But you can’t lie if your mission is to be a reliable news source.

        You can also selectively omit facts to keep your customers (readers, advertisers, or both) happy. Lots of outlets do this.

        You just can’t do these things and accurately claim that your mission is to inform.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Well, I think that’s an interesting & oft-debated ‘boundary’ question – something may either be classed “deceptive” (either intentionally or unintentionally), or simply “omitted/irrelevant” (and we will debate which is which) – but how does that boundary question relate to “market ideology”, except in the trivial way that the phrases ‘cui bono?’ and ‘caveat emptor!’ should be tattooed on the backs of every baby’s left and right hands?Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        This article might be a very good example.

        I think I wrote about this before. Trip Cullman is a very well respected off broadway and regional theatre director. He also owns a 2000 square foot loft. I think it is safe to bet money that Cullman’s work as a theatre director does not pay for his home.

        The article mentions that his grandmother owns or owned the famous steakhouse Peter Lugar (really good BTW).

        The article does not mention that Trip Cullman’s grandfather was the chairman of Philip Morris and he is an heir to a tobacco fortune.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Glyph, in order to figure out these “boundary cases,” we’re probably going to have to elicit some information over and above associated profit margins, right? That’s really my point.

        Will keeps pointing out something about the mission, as in:

        “But you can’t lie if your mission is to be a reliable news source.”

        Which is precisely what I’m getting at. Journalists, and newspapers more generally, generally have a mission, part of which is keeping people informed about the goings on in a variety of areas of society, even if the people interested in some areas of society are too few to support a newspaper financially. The reason is that the press is not merely in the business of making money. If they were, the Bill of Rights probably wouldn’t have mentioned them right up there at the top.

        Of course, since we live in a capitalist society, newspapers are going to have to make decisions about money, and sometimes that will mean cutting certain types of coverage, but in doing so they commit to not fulfilling their mission as well, and we have to accept to being worse off, even if only slightly so, as a result. What’s more, what gets cut and what doesn’t should be based on mission concerns as much as on monetary ones. If it turns out that covering Guantanamo is expensive (it is), and not particularly lucrative (it probably isn’t), and the paper decides to cut the investigative journalism budget, there are other, perhaps more lucrative areas of investigative journalism that should go first, because covering Guantano is very central to some very basic aspects of what journalism is for in a liberal society.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        I’m not talking about journalistic integrity. I’m talking about reporting on arts and restaurants.

        We’re not having the same conversation here.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I just took your response to a comment about “responsibility” to be misguided. I took it to be misguided because the standard you used for “responsibility” is inadequate, such that if we were to use it more generally it’d lead us down some troubling roads. The Times has a responsibility to report on those things because doing so is part of its mission, and it has the resources to do so without compromising other, more central parts of its mission. It doesn’t matter whether reporting on those things makes a profit, except insofar as reporting on them while they’re not resulting in a profit harms its ability to acheive more central parts of its mission.

        Journalism is somewhat unique in this regard, in that the responsibilities it carries often have little to do with how many people care.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Whether accuracy or local reporting are their responsibility depends on what their missions are. Contrary to recently popular belief, that’s not always limited to selling goods and services, even if they are a for profit enterprise.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Hey, if they make a promise that “if you buy our paper, you’ll get reviews of local restaurants and the local arts scene,” then I’ll agree they’ve accepted a responsibility to do so…until such time as they say, “if you buy our paper, don’t expect to get reviews of local restaurants or the local arts scene.”

        If I start a local paper and clearly announce that it will not cover local restaurants and the art scene, on what basis would we say I’ve abdicated my duty?

        And if that doesn’t work as a business model, then too bad for me.

        Everyone always wants to impose duties on other folks, so that we can get what we want out of them. I rail against that. But if someone accepts a duty by making a promise, and accepting something in return from us that we wouldn’t have given in the absence of that promise, that’s a duty. But there’s no duty just because I believe they ought to do X.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      Responsibility might have been too heavy a word.

      I think this is an area where certain parts of the left care a bit too much about the issue as compared to everyone else. Also as a I said above to Will, what is middle-range culture, housing, and restaurants? Foodyism has largely become gone across the nation and now almost every area is developing great restaurants that attract national attention. SF, Chicago, Austin, Portland (both of them), Seattle, New York, and other places are known as great restaurant towns. You mentioned wanting Korean for lunch. Americans are becoming sophisticated eaters baring the occasional viral sensation about Olive Garden restaurant reviews in North Dakota.

      I am more adamant that local media does have a responsibility to cover the local arts (along with city politics) scene and in New York that means covering the museums, theatre, dance, symphony, jazz, rock, etc. I also think art journalists and critics do have a responsibility to say “Hey get off your butts and check these guys out or don’t stay home with Netflix. Check out the Yaujiro Ozu festival at Film Forum.”Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        No, sorry, I’m an adamant ass on this issue. If the paper persuades you to spend your quarters on it by telling you it will cover those things, then it has a duty of a quasi-contractual sort (not in the sense of what’s legally enforceable, but in broader concept).

        But if the paper does not mislead you about what it covers, then it has no duty to cover anything in particular.

        As a general rule, we are all far too eager to tell others what their duties to us are.

        You worry a lot about people being willing to pay artists for what they do. Let’s apply that to journalism–if we’re actually not willing to pay enough for newspapers to cover those things we want them to cover, then they’ve got not a lick of duty to us, I say.Report

  4. Avatar zic says:

    It’s not just the times, of course.

    Have you ever read the fashion-trend pieces for the office class in Business Week? There is, always, the obligatory pair of heels for women costing more than many families spend on food in a month.

    But here’s the thing that get’s me about this: fluff pieces (that presumably sell related advertising) pay for the investigative journalism? I’ll buy that; it certainly is true for other papers I’ve worked with over the years. But there is always the question of the wall between the business office and the news room; and that needs to be watched carefully.

    Also, all those readers priced out of the fluff? They buy stuff, too. Sounds like the NYT is missing out on some lower-down advertising that they should be catching. And some more middle-brow reviews, too.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      “Have you ever read the fashion-trend pieces for the office class in Business Week? ”

      but that’s not particularly new eitherReport

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      Nope. I am not really interested in Business Week but I can see your point because the real estate and restaurant coverage in the Chronicle tends upper-middle class or above. My media consumption is the Times, NPR, Slate, the Chronicle for Bay Area News, the New Yorker, and various similar sites. I don’t even read the Business or Sports sections of the Times because I largely don’t care about the coverage.

      As for what they are missing out on, I don’t think that is necessarily true. Lee pointed out above that mass-culture stuff has largely moved beyond needing to advertise in Newspapers. They can produce viral videos for youtube and Sponsored Content for Buzzfeed. You will see full page movie ads in the Times for big special effects movies but I doubt they ad to the budget.

      It also raises the question of what is middle-brow. Foodyism is now universal or nearly so. H&M and Zara make their money by looking at what the top fashion houses are doing and copying at a cheaper price point. H&M will often get a top designer like Martin Margiella to design a product line for them.

      There seems to be a weird alliance going on here between the farther left and certain sections of the right on the cultural advertising issues and materialism. My friends who read Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York are not working class proletariats. They often have degrees from very fancy schools. They just have a kind of hippie bent and can’t understand that people like nice things and often aspire to them. Most people are simply not outraged at the Sunday Styles section like white progressives seem to get.

      A lot of my friends from college were very pro-Teachout and very anti-Cuomo. Teachout represented good government and purity and did very well in the Northern suburbs. Cuomo beat her easily in New York City especially among minorities and working class voters. The urban Democratic voter has always tended towards the machine politicians because the machine politicians knew and know how to get things done and even deliver jobs. I think progressive reform candidates have always been appalled at the concept of delivering stuff to the people.

      There was an article I read several years ago by an African-American woman and how dressing in nice clothes helped her mom get respect especially from people like school teachers and other government officials. Asceticism is attractive only when it is a choice.Report

  5. Avatar j r says:

    This still does not make me very concerned that the New York Times runs splashy ads for auctions for Christie’s. The simplest solution to not being annoyed by 1 percent ads is to not pay attention to them. There is also the fact that media like the New York Times and the New Yorker have aimed themselves at upper-middle class professionals with some very vague but not really actual bohemian pretensions.

    Way to bury the lede.

    The whole premise to this post is that the NY Times or The New Yorker is somehow at cross purposes when its editorial and news stance is decidedly progressive slanted, but its advertising and lifestyle and arts sections are aimed at the 1 percent. Quite to the contrary, this is exactly what it means to be “the paper of record.” That New Yorker guy with the top hat and the monocle, that’s not satire.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      How else am I supposed to get people to read the entire thing without burying the lede?

      I personally agree with you but I do think that there are people who (mistakingly or watnignly) think that the New York Times is meant for a broader audience or pretends to be. Or they see some contradiction between the front page reporting and the fluff or they don’t want to admit that the fluff pays for the hard-edge reporting. See Zic’s response as an example.Report

  6. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    It seems like fretting about newspaper advertising for the one percent is a pretty clear indicator of political impotence if anything else. Stagnant wages? Income inequality? Joblessness? ….Well, at least we can do something about what they run in the Times!Report

  7. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    From the OP

    We might have produced too many liberal arts grads (I don’t think there is a solution to this problem that is not very cruel.)”

    Maybe this is a regional thing but in the last couple of years I have found a lot of interest in liberal arts degrees. I think all of that stuff we were promised in school, that our diverse backgrounds and training in critical thought would be valuable in any field, is starting to finally come true. Managers are realizing that this makes for more teachable and creative employees than those being produced by business programs.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      I was being slightly hyperbolic. I don’t think being a history or english or music major is going to damn someone to poverty.

      Though the tendency for English majors to eventually be the ones to go to law school was very true until recently and might have been true for a long time. Stefan Zweig writes about how many early 20th century Austrian lawyers were people with artistic and literary pretensions in their youth.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


        When I was working on my BA in History the department bulletin board was filled with advertisements for law programs. Not sure why they tried to funnel everyone there but I guess it’s better than the Anthropology department telling all of us to be social workers.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        My antitrust professor in law school was an older guy with a long and distinguished career as a lawyer. He did teaching in semi-retirement. On the first day of class he said that he really thought of himself as a failed academic because he wanted to be a history professor but realized there was no money or job security in it. My antitrust professor graduated law school during the Kennedy administration, maybe the last year of Eisenhower’s admins.

        I think the old joke is that law school is where people go when they want to make money but are too nerdy for business school.Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      I thought the solution to the over production of liberal arts grads was a guaranteed income or gov’t funded jobs so those poor MFA grads didn’t have to slum and work on TV programs.Report

  8. Avatar Kim says:

    ‘Round Pittsburgh, our arts scene is exciting enough to get death threats.
    In related news, Jews started keeping a list of people patronizing that
    installation, so that they could be quietly discouraged.

    Mmmm…. schawarma.Report

    • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

      What the hell are you talking about Kim?

      Give proof of these lists.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Conflict Kitchen — you weren’t there, so you didn’t see people’s names and faces being noted. (naturally, if you’re not in the community…they’re not going to know your names).

        It’s kinda hard not to notice the people sitting, not eating, and staring at people in order to write down their names. They weren’t being terribly covert.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        I googled and read the article. I saw about the death threats which are unfortunate. I read that 200 people showed up. I did not see any report mention someone taking names down on lists.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I live here. If you want to call me a liar, feel free.Report

      • Avatar Dave says:


        First rule of OT – Kim is always right.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Ah, but what am I right about? I’m not even claiming the death threats are real, you know?Report

  9. Avatar notme says:

    So there is some splint between the working liberals and the 1% liberals? How terrible!!Report