Archive for July 19th, 2009

Ad Space: The New Frontier in Washington Post Pay-to-Play?

July 19, 2009

Just because the Washington Post‘s sponsored salon concept failed to launch doesn’t mean that pay-to-play journalism is dead at the newspaper.

Sunday’s Outlook section, the opinion/book review section of the newspaper, features three front-page articles which, essentially, are advocacy pieces for increased funding of NASA.

In addition to the self-explanatory “Let’s Reach for the Stars Again” and “Return to the Heavens, for the Sake of the Earth,” Outlook’s front-page spotlights a book review (“We Used to Call Them Space Cowboys“) that concludes by observing that manned space exploration “was the kind of thing that great nations do.”

Inside the Outlook section is another article touting robots in space (“Robots With the Right Stuff“), a piece taunting Americans with the notion that a living hot-air balloon like Richard Branson may out-compete NASA (“Rocketing Past NASA“) and a final article (“You’re Not the Center of the Universe, You Know“) opining that we can overcome our “infinitesimal place” in space by being clever enough to figure out the universe’s master plan.

You may agree or disagree with articles’ general implication — that U.S. taxpayers should step-up funding of space exploration — but what’s more interesting is that the Outlook section this week seems to have been sponsored by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, federal contractors that would no doubt like to nurse off the taxpayers via NASA contracts.

Both Lockheed Martin and Boeing took out full-page advertisements in the Outlook sections — which probably cost about $125,000 each.

So has the Post replaced the aborted $250,000 salons with $250,000 worth of advertising for pro-whatever articles in the Outlook section? Will the Outlook section next feature a series of pro-climate bill articles accompanied by full-page ads from climate bill rentseekers like Exelon, General Electric, Goldman Sachs and others?

Hey Washington Post ombudsman, inquiring minds want to know.