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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

What's Old Is New Again, Again
2006-07-31 20:17
by Jon Weisman

When advertisements infiltrated the outfield walls of Dodger Stadium, it wasn't the end of the world as much as it was a drab return to the beginning. Ads were all over the place in the ballparks of yore, but with the passage of time, they became charming, quaint, a whole lot easier on today's eyes.

That brings us to the current state of newspapers and their search for pennies under the seat cushions. Kevin Roderick of L.A. Observed (which, by the way, now offers a brand spanking new sports section) notes that the Times has begun selling ads to run on the front page of its sports section.

Desperation strikes. Publisher Jeff Johnson just announced that the Los Angeles Times will begin to accept advertising on the front pages of some news and feature sections — but not the front page of the newspaper. In a way, it's more proof of the adage around the Times offices that every old idea comes around again and is sold as "new." In the bad old days of General Harrison Gray Otis and his son-in-law Harry Chandler, the Times ran ads everywhere. Of course you could also buy your way into the news columns, but that's a different topic.

The memo from Johnson reads, in part:

We have decided to introduce a new premium advertising position on the section front pages of our Business, Calendar, Sports and Travel sections. We also are evaluating whether similar revenue opportunities are appropriate for our other sections.

We have no plans for ads on A-1.

These new ad positions will be sold selectively to premium advertisers, with very specific standards on ad content, size and position. These standards will ensure that section front ads meet the equally demanding standards we've set for our editorial content.

By introducing these new positions, we join select other industry leaders that have made similar changes, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Chicago Tribune. These industry changes acknowledge today's challenging advertising environment. To remain competitive, we must offer advertisers innovative new ways to reach our large and influential audience.

The more we go online for news, the less of an event this becomes. Just like baseball on television was saturated with ads long before they returned to the walls of the ballpark - including ads during game action - newspapers are only noteworthy at this point for how long they've resisted.

And yet, there's this sense of defilement. I don't begrudge the Times for selling section front ad space, but it sure ain't pretty.

2006-07-31 20:36:04
1.   Bob Timmermann
In the 19th Century, it would have been rare to find a front page that did not have any advertisements on it, although there weren't many display ads at that time.

Or photographs.

Just long columns and it was hard to tell what was the main story and what was an ad.

2006-07-31 20:49:29
2.   Greg S
In the early 20th Century, you could hardly hit a ball against the wall without touching an ad. Worse than any current ballpark. But somehow it looked cool then and it just looks trashy now. Ah, the past.
2006-07-31 20:57:47
3.   Telemachos
I'm embarrassed to say my sense of how old newspapers used to look is largely based on The Onion's "Our Dumb Century".
2006-07-31 20:59:50
4.   Bob Timmermann
I would also say in the 19th Century, it would also be hard to find a newspaper story that was well written or even remotely nonpartisan. At least the bias in the news was out in the open. Way out in the open.

Way, way, way out in the open.

The lack of ads in ballparks for a time period can probably be blamed on Tom Yawkey, who painted the LF fence at Fenway green to make it into the Green Monster. I guess he didn't need the money.

But in the Brooklyn era, Abe Stark parlayed "Hit sign, win suit" into a career as the Brooklyn borough president.

2006-07-31 21:11:50
5.   Greg S
For those who are interested in such things, I recommend reading "In the Best Interests of Baseball? The Revolutionary Reign of Bud Selig" by Andrew Zimbalist.

Has a nice history of the commissioner's position in baseball. I'm always fascinated by the bumbling nature of baseball's owners throughout the decades.

2006-07-31 21:14:29
6.   Marty
Jon, you write some of the most serious sports commentary on the web. I've gotten so I can't do without it, yet you also have an ad for Class Action Suits (a joke ad for sure, but none the less) right next to your great prose. What is the difference really with advertising on section fronts. I guarantee you the readers do not care.
2006-07-31 21:16:05
7.   Sam DC
Here's some fighting words from the Inside the Dodgers comments:

"Lugo will do a solid job for you - he's been hitting brilliantly recently. And from what I hear, he's a great player to have about in the clubhouse.

I've got to ask you all though - do you have any players left in you minor league system, or do the Rays have them all yet?!


2006-07-31 21:17:05
8.   Jon Weisman
6 - I'm not passing judgment on anyone else, just making an aesthetic comment. I thought that was clear - I wasn't trying to punish newspapers for what everyone else is doing. The ad on my site isn't pretty, either.
2006-07-31 21:19:20
9.   Steve
Its about time somebody set about improving the Times.
2006-07-31 21:32:19
10.   DodgerHobbit
You can't improve the can only hope to contain it.
2006-07-31 21:33:22
11.   Marty
Sorry, I thought you were, with the "some sense of defilement" part. I'm just tired :)
2006-07-31 22:18:29
12.   Eric Enders
My hometown newspaper, the El Paso Times, has been running ads on the front of the sports page for years, and I've even seen ads on the front page of the entire paper before.

Of course, they also put the top headline in extra-bold, 140-point type every day, regardless of how newsworthy the story is.

It's a very, very lousy excuse for a newspaper.

2006-07-31 22:51:54
13.   Linkmeister
Both Honolulu papers (and yes, I'm very glad we have two) run ads at the bottom of the A section. One's locally owned (Star-Bulletin) and one's Gannett (Advertiser).

My eye just skips over 'em.

I just checked: the Advertiser Sports section has one at the bottom, too: one inch high, full width, and four-color.

2006-08-01 08:08:03
14.   Jon Weisman
Good interview with Kevin Roderick:

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