Sign of the Times: New York Times to pimp out its front page


These are ugly times for the newspaper industry. The internets, plummeting classified advertising revenue and a generation that's grown up playing Nintendo over their breakfast cereal instead of reading the daily comics have all conspired to send the newspaper industry into its death throes.

So the news that the New York Times, the venerable Old Grey Lady, has begun selling ads on its front page, is not so very surprising. It's the last major paper to do so, in a grasping attempt to keep itself afloat. The company is looking to mortgage its building, and is actively shopping its stake in the Boston Red Sox baseball team, according to media reports.

The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, many other leading newspapers took to selling ads on the front page long ago. The New York Times was the lone holdout, perhaps because of its reputation as the gold standard of journalism. CBS bought the first ad, but the company won't tell it's own reporter how much it paid. At least it was below the fold.

I don't suppose many readers will care. This is the sort of twist that makes old newspaper people grimace, mostly because we were taught that the line between editorial and advertising is strong and never to be broken. On the other hand, newspaper companies have to do what they can to survive. And the front page of the Times is prime real estate, so to speak. No matter what the kids today are reading, (or not), world leaders still get the New York Times with their morning coffee as a matter of course.