After decades of mutual distrust, it’s nice to see the concordat that editorial is achieving with advertising at our greatest newspapers.
Last Thursday the Play section of the Tribune carried a spectacular two-page spread on the newly remodeled Shedd Aquarium. At the bottom of the pages, an advertisement for the Shedd — “Let the Fantasea Begin” — crossed the paper.
And Sunday brought a striking design flourish in the arts section of the New York Times. What looked at first glance like an hourglass ran from the top to the bottom of page seven of the Arts & Entertainment section. The top globe contained the paper’s choices for Emmy nominations. The bottom globe turned out to be an ad for the United Negro College Fund.
It was a charity ad designed by Young & Rubicam and placed by the Ad Council, which means editors took what came in and created a brilliant page around it. No harm done, I’d say, though I’d guess old-school Timesters raised to believe in a wall too high to see over squirmed a little. I was hoping public editor Clark Hoyt would get back to me with his personal view, but he didn’t.
The Tribune reader who brought the Shedd feature to my attention accurately called it a “two-page puff piece” and wondered “Will the editors say they didn’t know about the ad?” and “Was it just a happy coincidence?”
Good questions, but no one called me back with answers.