You ask a silly question...
Newspapers and magazines fill up their unsold advertising space with "house ads" -- ads that tout the papers and mags themselves. There's a doozy of a house ad in today's O -- it's on page 3 of the Metro section of the edition we had delivered. In it, the newspaper enthusiastically pats itself on the back for its recent stories on the Portland police and firefighters disability system. The text of the ad is pretty funny:
When The Oregonian reported the huge cost of Portland's police and fire disability program, readers reacted with outrage. Readers demanded change. The city has responded, with a series of proposed charter amendments to reform the system.
Reports like this don't happen easily. They take weeks of digging in the best of circumstances -- reading reports, conducting interviews, tracking down stacks of obscure statistics. When the agency in question stonewalls -- as the disability board did -- the analysis takes that much longer, and the work is that much harder. But this is the kind of hard-hitting and informative journalism that defines Oregon's largest daily newspaper and makes us a watchdog on issues that matter to all of us.
Oh, please. As if no one else had noticed the problems in the system? And the advertising department left out the part about "We also dug up some drinking and spousal abuse stories from Commissioner Leonard's past, and splashed them around for no good reason. Might as well have some fun smearing someone while you're doing the hard, hard work of investigative journalism."
Then there's "Reports like this don't happen easily." How utterly unprofessional. Can you imagine any other paid service provider having the nerve, not to mention the perverted self-image, to say something like that to its clients?
Perhaps the silliest part of the ad, however, is the glaring headline: "If we didn't blow the whistle on the police and firefighter disability program, who would?" Gee, let's see: the Willamette Week, the Portland Tribune, the Portland Business Journal, bloggers, the City Club? Or hey, how about the Washington Post? You know, the people who have beaten you to nearly every really big scandal story that's mattered to anyone around here for decades.
The Oregonian's track record as an investigative publication is weak at best. It will take many years of work as good as, or better than, its police and fire disability stories to make it worthy of serious recognition in that realm. To run quarter-page ads declaring itself a leader in the area is, to be honest, pathetic.
Elsewhere, the O's house ads are trumpeting the advent of something they're calling "high definition news." I'm wondering what that can be. Perhaps it goes something like this. Here's the old, low-definition Oregonian:
Now here's the new, high-definition version:
We'll get to see for sure if that's what it is on the 18th.