Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell writes Saturday that the paper has only received one complaint about ads on the front of sections since the paper started running them a few weeks ago.
She wrote, “The latter are new in the past few weeks, and have drawn only one complaint — from Paul Kirby of Silver Spring. ‘As a lifelong reader of The Washington Post and a journalist, I was disappointed . . . that about 20 percent of the front page of the Post’s Business section was devoted to an advertisement rather than editorial content. I realize that a number of other newspapers — including USA Today — have run ads on their section fronts for quite a while, but I was always pleased that The Post had resisted the urge to sacrifice editorial quality for short-term profit. . . . I urge you to reconsider your decision . . . great newspapers like The Post shouldn’t take any such actions that compromise their editorial quality.’
“[Publisher Bo] Jones replied to Kirby, noting that the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are running section-front ads. ‘We held off on doing them for some time for reasons you expressed. At the end of the day, I made the call to go ahead and take these ads with their premium revenue. As you note, newspapers these days are under growing pressure to find new revenue streams in order to support the news gathering and maintain the best possible quality for readers.’ Jones said that the space is not lost to news but added elsewhere ‘so there was no net loss to readers. In the overall long-term tradeoff, I don’t think readers will be confused or disadvantaged except for the aesthetics.'”
Read more here.