Archive for the ‘Advertising Watch’ Category

Ethics: Big Al, and exotic dancer Boom-Z-Boom

October 14, 2008

[A dancer’s new tale about Al Neuharth is part Puzo, Susann]

I always knew where my reporter’s paycheck came from: advertising sales. But the so-called Chinese wall separating news-gathering from the paper’s business side meant I could report freely, without favoring some powerful interests over others.
It’s a more complicated story now that I’m a blogger trying to make a buck. Exhibit A in a new dilemma: Naja Hara, a self-described exotic dancer, back in the days when Rochester, N.Y., was Gannett’s headquarters town. Hara, who says her stage name was Boom-Z-Boom, has self-published online an excerpt of her unlikely expose: From the Gang to Gannett. I first learned about her website last month from a reader.
Hara is offering free excerpts on her website, until Oct. 31. After that, they’ll cost $3.29 a pop. Part Mario Puzo’s The Godfather and Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls, Hara’s story covers her romantic ties to gangsters in organized crime families active in 1970s Rochester. She devotes a chapter to Al Neuharth, the famously colorful retired Gannett CEO who launched USA Today.

I had been considering her story when, apparently weary of waiting, Hara used Google’s AdSense program to advertise (left) her website on my blog last night — “breaking” her story here, and creating an ethical dilemma. If I don’t write about her site, thereby forcing Hara to keep advertising, I make more money. (Maybe lots, after factoring in possibly higher per-click ad prices). Yet, if I do write about Hara, she might stop advertising — potentially costing me big money. Such is the life of a new publisher, eh?
With this post, you see the decision I made — and all the new ethical considerations I never faced as a traditional journalist.

About Hara’s Neuharth story

I cannot independently corroborate a key scene because, in her version, Hara and Neuharth were the only ones present. So, I’m not going to repeat the story here. (I will say this much, however: It brings new meaning to my nickname for Neuharth.)

Please post your thoughts in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Annals of advertising: Can’t beat ’em, join ’em?

October 13, 2008

[An unexpected ad, from a target of my criticism]

I haven’t exactly been a rah-rah booster of Newseum financial backer Freedom Forum, what with my snarky suggestion that the non-profit foundation’s CEO, Charles Overby, was recently¬†in bed with legendary retired Gannett CEO Al Neuharth. (Ick:¬†there’s an image!)

So, you can imagine my amusement when I saw a Newseum text ad (screenshot,¬†above) at the top of my blog last night. To be sure, it’s one of the new Google-served advertisements I began publishing over the weekend. I doubt the $450 million museum’s marketing department chose this venue. Then again, politics make strange (prison) bedfellows. . .

See a promo worth highlighting in Advertising Watch? Post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.