Monday, April 03, 2006

'Holy Crap!' the Man Says About Register's Advertising On the Section Front Pages. But It's All for Money, And Old-Timers Recall It Happening Before

The guy's e-mail began, "Holy crap!"

He was referring to a Des Moines Register plan to include advertising on the front page of each section, starting a week from today.

If you can believe what they're saying in the newspaper's advertising department, the ads are selling like hotcakes.

Which I guess means pretty well.

"This is the first time ever the Des Moines Register has had ad space available on [the] front of section pages," a memo at the paper says. "THEY ARE GOING VERY, VERY QUICKLY!!!! We originally had 35 of these available, there are only 9 left! If [your business] is interested in this premium position exposer, please let me know right away! These promise to be locked up for quite some time...."

The memo goes on to list the sections, one by one:

"Iowa Life Section: Monday & Tuesday are $340ea. for a 26x comittment & $300 for a 52x comittment Iowa Life Section: Wednesday & Thursday are $400ea. for a 26x comittment & $350ea. for a 52x comittment

"Metro Section: Monday is $400ea. for a 26x comittment & $350ea. for a 52x comittment

"Sports: Thursday is $400ea. for a 26x comittment & $350ea. for a 52x comittment

"Business: Wednesday & Thursday are $400ea. for a 26x comittment & $350ea. for a 52x comittment

"Business: Friday is $440ea. for a 26x comittment & $390ea. for a 52x commitment

"*Full color is included in front page strip pricing.
*All front page strip revenue needs to be incrimental, over & above regular spending."

Before I go any further, let me say that the memo is wrong when it says this is the first time ever that the Register has had ad space available on the front of section pages.

Old-timers remember when the sports section had ads at the bottom of the front page every day in the 1950s, and perhaps before.

"The ads ran across the bottom of the page," a guy tells me. "It left open the left-hand column where columns by Sec Taylor and Maury White came down the page. They might have even stacked the ads a little bit."

The obvious reason for putting ads on the front pages of each section is money.

The Register wants money and the parent Gannett Co. wants the Register to want money.

The big worry in the industry now is that newspaper ad revenue is being switched from the print product to the Internet product.

On the subject of money, a guy says, "People say, Gee, isn't it nice that on the obituary page the Register has enlarged the type. Well, shit, look at what they've done. You used to be able to get eight words across on a line, but now you only get six with the larger type.

"That stretches it out and makes the paper more money. Everything they do is for the purpose of making money."

* * *

I thought it was strange that the Register couldn't squeeze the final score of the opening game of the major league baseball season -- the White Sox against the Indians -- into the today's city edition.

The game, which had a 2-hour 57-minute rain delay, ended at 1:10 a.m. Actually, not bad. In the old days, the editors would've busted their butts to get the result into the paper.

Those were different times, I guess.

No butt-busting anymore.

By the way, the Sox won, 10-4

* * *

A guy I know reponded to my column on April Fool's Day with this e-mail:


"Clever stuff. I forgot it's April Fool's Day. I'll have to pull something on my wife.....Did you see where the Register calls Tom Brands a 'former legend' in [Saturday's] paper? I'm going to ask [Register sports editor] Bryce Miller if that is his idea of an April Fool's joke. . ."

Former UI Alumnus

The e-mailer went on to say he's wondering when Brands [pictured at the left] "stopped being a legend."

* * *

"Doug from Davenport" writes:

"I love the April Fool's Column. A long time ago when Iowa was between basketball coaches, I did one about Denny Crum becoming Hawkeye coach. I quoted him as saying he wanted his last job to be in Iowa, where he could sit on his porch and listen to the corn grow. And I wrote that big shot alums at Amana Company were picking Crum up on corporate jet and Barbara Hale -- she was doing Amana TV spots at the time -- was cooking brats onboard in an Amana Radar Range. We got so many irate calls from readers who took it all seriously, that the editor pulled the story in the afternoon edition, even though it was ridiculously obvious it was a joke. I have never overestimated the intelligence of readers since.

"Keep up the good blogging."

Doug From Davenport

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Thanks for the kind words, Doug. I've always heard that a newspaper writer can't joke in print because too many people will believe what they read. But I think April Fool's Day should be an exception. Hey, Doug, I seem to remember calling you after you did that amusing story about Denny Crum wanting to hear the Iowa corn grow. One of our photographers asked me which cornfield Crum would be in so he could get a picture of it for Page One].

* * *

George Bush [pictured at the top], rumored to be the president, didn't help the Cincinnati Reds today any more than he's been helping the rest of us.

Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

For all I know, he served up a spitball.

The Reds lost to the Chicago Cubs, 16-7. The Cubs discovered a power display that hadn't been evident since William McKinley was president and Bud Selig was still alive.

* * *

It was sickening a couple of weekends ago during the NCAA basketball tournament the way CBS-TV kept promoting an upcoming "60 Minutes" show that featured a much-too-long story about golfer Tiger Woods.

The network had everyone believing it was going to give us a blockbuster of a show.

What a joke that was.

The minute I noticed that the show, narrated by Ed Bradley [right], switched to Woods' learning center for children, I figured, ah-hah, this is the reason for the show.

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times noticed, too.

He wrote a story that wondered if Bradley's "worshipful profile of Woods was an infomercial or if Woods had paid a fee for those adoring 25 minutes. With nothing new to report -- and not a single tough question in his arsenal -- Bradley chose to join Camp Tiger.

"Bradley looked to be enjoying himself too much as he smiled and chuckled along with Woods in various locales, conjuring comparisons to the buddy act of Ahmad Rashad and Michael Jordan, who, like Woods, surrenders so little to journalists but whose consent to be interviewed is deemed an occasion to send a camera crew.

"The puffy profile reminded me of a 'documentary' about Woods -- 'Son, Hero, Champion' -- that preceded CBS's fourth-round coverage of the Masters in 1997. It was produced by IMG, the agency that represents Woods, so you know how objective and unconflicted it was....."

Sandomir was correct about the "softball" questions Bradley, who likes to think of himself as a hard-nosed reporter, threw at Woods.

It was ass-kissing and hero-worshipping at their best.

The whole deal reminded me of another "60 Minutes" show from long ago.

I recall Dan Rather, in his first tour of duty on "60 Minutes," visiting Bobby Knight when the chair-thrower was still coaching at Indiana.

Knight had Rather right where he wanted him. Knight talked Rather into shooting free throws on the court at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. I don't recall Rather asking Knight one tough question.

Horrible stuff.

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[Ron Maly is a four-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year and also is the best-selling author of "Tales from the Iowa Sidelines," which is in its second printing as both a hardback and softback book. The book is about the rich football tradition at the University of Iowa. Maly has a heck of a lot of fun doing what he's doing. Ron's columns about sports, newspapers, his family, medicine, travel, the people he knows, the people he doesn't know, a few people he'd like to know better, a few people he once knew and is trying to forget, a few people he has already forgotten, and anything else that trips his trigger appear regularly at and]