October 19, 2015
The Vancouver Sun's large front-page political ad. (Screenshot via Twitter)

The Vancouver Sun ran a large front-page political ad on Saturday. (Screenshot via Twitter)

The Huffington Post | National Observer

A trio of newspapers in Canada ceded their front pages this weekend to enormous advertisements, an unconventional move that saw usually hallowed space taken over by paid messages bashing Liberal Party policies.

“Voting Liberal Will Cost You,” reads the boldfaced headline for one ad, which was published against a bright yellow background in The Vancouver Sun. Underneath the headline, in smaller type, is a warning that liberal policies would lead to higher taxes.

Writing for National Observer, Sandy Garossino called the advertisements a “yellow stain,” saying the campaign represents an “ignominious betrayal of the venerable journalistic legacies.”

The stain of this shameful moment in Canadian journalism will never wash completely clean from the Globe and Mail and Postmedia. Not only did they tolerate the ugliest political episode in Canada’s post-war era, they signed their names to it.

Three other publications recently turned over much of their prime real estate for promotional messages. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times devoted coveted front-page territory to an enormous ad for American Airlines in a vivid example of the occasional, revenue-seeking turn to front page ads that came in vogue about a decade ago.

Meanwhile two Ohio newspapers were running a different kind of ad, employing unconventional industry advocacy by printing blank front pages that illustrated the kind of coverage readers could expect if they didn’t have a local daily.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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