Fine: WSJ ads on front page are not that bad
BusinessWeek’s Jon Fine, who writes a blog on the media, makes a pretty good historical argument that the Wall Street Journal’s decision earlier this week to begin selling ads on its front page isn’t all that heretical as many journalists are making it out to be.
Fine wrote, “It’s worth remembering whenever journos pull out the wayback machine and hint of longstanding noble traditions that they’re, um, wrong. Insert the usual stuff–yellow journalism and Citizen Hearst; the bare-knuckled tabloid approach that defined American newspapers for decades before a Times-ian ideal of objectivity took root in the mid-20th century. But let me tell you a story.
“A friend of mine is abroad, circa 1999, and visits one of London’s major dailies with a bunch of other college students. In one room, they have front pages from throughout the years plastered on the walls, illustrating various changes in how they presented the news.
“The Brit giving the tour points to one and identifies it as coming from somewhere in the 19th century–a major advancement, this one, he says. It was when we started running news on Page One.
“My friend, somewhat mystified, asks, well, what was on Page One if not the news?
“The Brit pauses, and turns to him. Oh, these dense Yanks . . .
“Advertising, he says.”
Read more here. Indeed, I have U.S. newspapers from cities like Detroit from the 1870s and 1880s that are dominated by ads.