Sydney Herald “Advertorial” Scheme Gets New South Whaled On

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Not the (faux) front page in question: “… the Iemma Government is accused of an addiction to funding services with gambling revenue, particularly from poker machines.” Televisa in Mexico has a green light to do the same, one reads, while Globo in Brazil has been fined for running illegal games of chances in the guise of advertising promotions. 

SMH editor takes blame for Airbus supplement: A “wraparound” causes a commotion, with Sydney Morning Herald staff arguing that a four-page “wraparound” violated “the Media Entertainment Arts Alliance code of ethics.

No one covering the story bothers to define the technical term “wraparound” — which I gather is the grown-up cousin of a “bellyband.”

I guess you could define it as a entire broadsheet (a single folio with four printed areas, recto and verso, with a fold in the middle) that enfolds the actual newspaper,

Think of the newspaper as a book.

The wraparound is a dust jacket enfolding the book and concealing its actual cover. So if you expected to be able judge this book by its cover, apparently, you might have found yourself, as it were — to mix a metaphor — inadvertently confusing the clothes with the man.

The Metro free paper — there is even an edition of it in São Paulo now — has been using wraparound advertising for quite some time now — using it like it was going out of style. I personally never read it, partly for that reason.

The Herald welcomes its new content management overlords from the latifundios of the Outback.

The word “prostitution” gets thrown around rather freely in other Australian coverage of the flap.

Journalists at Fairfax’s The Sydney Morning Herald have protested over what they say is the newspaper’s use of the front page to promote Singapore Airlines. The broadsheet paper on Friday largely devoted a four-page wraparound to Thursday’s historic arrival of Singapore Airlines’ giant A380 airbus from Singapore.

The wraparound combined ads for the new big Airbus and coverage of its maiden flight to Oz. And also, according to another report, an unrelated, actual news story.

Staff believe the move breached the paper’s charter of editorial independence and the Fairfax editorial ethics policy. They also believe it breaches the Media Entertainment Arts Alliance code of ethics.

The code of ethics has the virtue of simplicity, but the drawback of being awfully, awfully vague.

5.  Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism.  Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.

The “wraparound” was not disclosed as being a paid advertising supplement, reports are saying– although from the coverage, it is not clear what exactly it was the advertiser paid for.

Did it pay the production costs of the wraparound, along with the ad fees? What exactly was the “innovation stealth marketing” deal here?

The innovation being that the section, we are told, contained both advertising and editorial content.

Somebody should publish a photo of the page in question.

It would held understand the story better.  The Press Display Web site, unfortunately, does not cover the Herald.

Sydney Morning Herald journalist Ruth Pollard, the co-chair of the Fairfax house committee (HC), said the newspaper’s journalists had no choice but to hold a staff meeting on Friday to discuss the matter. “We reckon that it imperils the prestige and integrity of the paper,” she told AAP.

Australians like the word “reckon” as a synonym for “think, figure, believe.”

Angry meetings.

Journalists at the Herald’s publisher, Fairfax Media, held meetings during the day on Friday, angry about what they saw as an attempt to disguise “advertorial” copy as news after the paper failed to make any declaration that the wraparound was an advertising supplement.

The editor says the dingobuck stops with him.

Mr Oakley told a gathering of Fairfax journalists and production staff at the company’s Sydney headquarters yesterday that the buck stopped with him.

It takes one to quango tango.

“The decision was mine and mine alone, and I take responsibility for that,” he said. “Those who feel it was a bad call should blame me, because it was a call made by me in isolation.”

Real news, advertisements and fake news.

The paper ran its main story about the killing of Australian SAS soldier Matthew Locke in Afghanistan on the front of the wraparound, then filled the remainder of the four pages with stories and large advertisements about the Singapore Airlines jet.

Merger with the Rural Press.

After the supplement ran, Fairfax staff representative Gerard Noonan said the company’s recent merger with Rural Press was “bringing to the Fairfax culture a management-level mindset where the distinction between editorial and advertorial is more blurred”.

On the Rural Press:

Australia’s largest publishers of regional and agricultural news and information, Rural Press Limited offers a wealth of knowledge on issues affecting the heartland of Australia, New Zealand and The United States.

Most “regional” publications from the heartland of the Homeland lack a wealth of knowledge about Oz and New Zealand, I tend to find. They are not actually in the same region, you know.

Its first paper, The Land, was founded in 1911.

Former senior Rural Press management are in most of the key executive positions overseeing Fairfax’s Australian newspapers, including Lloyd Whish-Wilson, the man ultimately responsible for the Herald as Fairfax’s NSW boss.

Lloyd Wha-Wilson?

Mr Oakley yesterday claimed the decision to run the advertising-driven supplement had nothing to do with cultural change caused by the Rural Press merger. The decision to run the supplement had been made at an editorial level, rather than by executives, he said.

A likely story.

The Herald editor faced hostile questioning at the meeting from journalists who later pronounced themselves dissatisfied with his explanations.

If the wraparound really was a paid supplement, and the editor made the decision to accept it, and alleges that no one else was involved, then what? He sold it himself? He is doubling as an ad sales guy?

“He seems to think being an editor who’s pressured by the accountants at RUP is a worse sin than admitting he made a mistake by producing a newspaper that was a breach of editorial ethics,” one senior journalist said.

I remember once working on a newspaper issue that wound up combining a wraparound with a bellyband. Or trying to.

The front page reproduced the front page of our newspaper, except that it included a faux bellyband. (A bellyband is a strip of paper carrying a commercial message that wraps around the newspaper. Rather than being printed on a separate band of paper, it was actually to be printed directly on the front and back page.

The problem, as I tried to explain to the ad guys, was of practical printing-press nature.

In order to create the illusion of a bellyband, this strip had to bleed all the way to the margins.

But that setting up the press to do that would cost huge amounts of money. If it could be done at all.

They did not care. Our ad guys were somewhat on the subliterate side. They would have been better off selling a product they actually understood, I thought. Like, say, Duff Beer.
So what we wound up withwas this faux bellyband that failed to bring off the illusion of a bellyband — because it stopped at the page gutter, rather than appearing to “wrap around” the issue.

Puzzled readers at a trade show where the monstrosity was distributed ragged me endlessly with ingenuous questions about what the hell that was supposed to be, anyway?

The more generous of our readers seemed willing to write it off as an excruciating printer’ error.

I could not have been more professionally embarrased.

And personally, I though it was kind of a debacle for the advertiser, too. I never found out whether they complained or not, but if I were them, I sure would have.

It looked incredibly stupid.

An actual bellyband — which is a perfectly legit ad technique, I think — would have been much, much snazzier.

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