It's a simple ad with the text “Read All About It” and a link to UtahNewsPaperProject.org, the website of a group formed to advocate for Utah's media that's critical of the Joint-Operating Agreement that strongly favors the Deseret News. The group had to pay $1,845 for the ad even though the D-News has refused to run it in their paper this Saturday.---
The Joint-Operating Agreement that governs the ad sales and distribution of The Salt Lake Tribune and D-News was renegotiated in October 2013 at the behest of the Trib's hedge fund owners. Critics say the new deal unfairly benefits the D-News with 70 percent of ad sales in either paper going to the D-News.
Joan O'Brien, a former Trib editor who has started the Utah Newspaper Project to raise awareness of the deal and call for Department of Justice scrutiny into the JOA, says that her recent experience trying to get an ad in the LDS Church-owned D-News shows another example of how the new JOA deal hurts the Trib—and readers across the state.
The ad she created (pictured above) had to be pitched to Media One--the organization that manages advertising sales for the rival papers—before it could appear in print. Since the JOA's new restructuring puts three D-News members to two Trib members on the board, it allows the D-News authority to spike ads they don't want in their paper.
Regardless, O'Brien had to pay the same rate--$1,845-- despite the fact that it won't run in the D-News on Saturday, May 3, when it's expected to run in the Trib. Since the ad would not run in the D-News, in this situation at least the ad revenue would all go to the Trib,*
O'Brien says Media One officials told her the high price of the ad was because it was an “advocacy” ad.
“It seems like in the marketplace of ideas it would have more value and therefore you should get more of a discount than an ad for an auto detailing business, but they charged me a lot more, almost twice as much,” O'Brien says.
But O'Brien contends the larger issue is that other advertisers that face paying the same fee for an ad-- that could be left out of almost half the market--will be discouraged from even trying to place the ad in the first place.
“You pay full price for only 60 percent of the eyeballs that will see it,” she says.
The ad (pictured) O'Brien says was designed to be as non-controversial as possible. Compared to another site started by Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, which displays an image of a blood-soaked Trib paper and a knife labeled “Deseret News”--the ad O'Brien placed with Media One makes no accusations and points no fingers.
Still she was told the D-News would not run it, leaving O'Brien with the impression that the D-News is flexing it's new JOA muscle to hurt its competition.
“It's just another feature in the JOA calculated to hurt the Tribune it seems to me,” O'Brien says.
As of the time of this post a comment had not been returned by the D-News, this post will be updated if a comment is returned.
*This post originally misstated how ad revenue would be split in situations where one paper in the JOA refuses to run a particular ad