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Principles and profits

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Principles and profits

This is a tale about the New York Times. The newspaper – its editors and publishers – pride themselves as being stalwarts in supporting liberal causes, among them fighting increasing income and wealth inequality in the US and supporting diversity and inclusiveness. When Republicans control the White House, Senate and/or House, the New York Times sees itself as the official opposition.

Every Sunday when I get my copy of the newspaper, the first thing I do is glance over the ads in the first section of the paper and in the SundayStyles section. The ads are primarily aimed at the 1% who are being vilified by Occupiers worldwide. There are some ads that do cater to the higher echelons of the 99%ers. Indeed, even some of the ads targeting the 1%ers also appeal to some of the 99%ers who want to emulate as best they can the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

The newspaper cannot survive without advertising revenues. Since the NY Times attracts large numbers of the 1%ers, especially in the Northeast, it will attract advertisers catering to thee people. While the advertisers and the products being advertised may run counter to the views of the NY Times; after all, the newspaper is still a for-profit business. And since the publishers have not yet figured out the future model for a newspaper, they are desperate to attract whatever ad revenues they can.

In the November 6 edition of the paper, I counted the models used in the various ads in these two sections, paying particular attention to their race. My count was as follows: 27 whites, five African-Americans, two Asians and one Hispanic. This breakdown does not even come close to reflecting the racial composition of the US. It might reflect the racial composition of the 1%ers in the US though.

If the New York Times is serious about promoting diversity, then I am confused. Why does the paper accept such a poor representation of the population? The NY Times should have some clout in negotiating with advertisers the racial mix they use in their ads. Or maybe the newspaper fears that if it tried to alter the behavior of advertisers, fewer such advertisers might be inclined to use the NY Times as a platform. Perhaps, some of the 1%ers also might give up their subscriptions to the paper.

Profits are important, although there are times in the paper’s editorial stance where the editors appear to ignore this. Principles also are very important, particularly for the media. Do principles have to be sacrificed in order to survive?

The opinions expressed in this blog are personal and do not reflect the views of either Global Brief or the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs.

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1 Comment

  1. Derek January 7, 2012

    I have some questions evoked by this article:
    1. Do the US politicians compose of the consistent proportion of the 1%ers who are financial elites? If this is the case, it is not hard to tell for whom the government is working.
    2. Will the NY time influence/challenge its customers (the 1% readers) or be compliable to its target audience’s opinions? If this is the case, is the NY time a US version China Daily?
    3. Are the opinions from NY time as authoritative as people think? Like its Business School Ranking .

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