OLD Media Moves

Detroit paper says WSJ story got it wrong, asks for correction

November 6, 2009

The Detroit Free Press has written a letter to Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson, demanding that the business newspaper correct a story in Monday’s paper that stated the Detroit paper ran stories about Medicare because health insurer Humana suggested them and ran advertising next to them.

The letter, posted on Jim Romenesko‘s blog, is from editor Paul Anger and senior managing editor Jeff Taylor.

It states, “The article in Monday’s Wall Street Journal did a disservice to the Detroit Free Press. The headline does not characterize how the Free Press newsroom approaches its job. The context of the story suggests that the Free Press somehow compromised its integrity. Several points of fact in the story were just plain wrong.

“Here are the facts, painstakingly spelled out in answers to questions posed by the reporter.

“(1) The idea for the articles published last Sunday in the Free Press about the Medicare enrollment period did not come from Humana, as the article and headline suggest. Humana acknowledges as much in the story. The Free Press expanded its coverage of the issue because the Client Solutions Group at the Detroit Media Partnership was able to sell a special section devoted to the topic. This is not exactly a new concept; newspapers have been arranging adjacency positions for news content and advertising for … decades.”

The letter later notes, “And it would appear the Wall Street Journal did the same with a section it published on Monday, the same day the article about the Free Press appeared. The section was about investing in mutual funds, and it was full of ads from Vanguard, Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, Oppenheimer, and others. Obviously, they chose to advertise in that section because they knew in advance there would be special coverage of mutual funds on that day.”

Read more here.

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