Odd Thoughts: Tech and power of position

Technology can do nearly everything for us that we used to have to do for ourselves… including making mistakes we once left to circumstance.

The “news hole” of a newspaper, the portion devoted to news items, feature stories, opinion pieces, and anything else governed by the editors and the newsroom, has nearly always been produced independently of the advertising content.

Advertisers have often wanted their ads to appear on the same page with news or feature stories that they would deem favourable to their commercial enterprises.

The editor would balk at such a thing. Giving a businessman such an unfair advantage over competing advertisers would blacken the paper’s integrity.

Advertisers could not buy “position” at all. They couldn’t dictate, not even by offering to pay. Depending on when the ad copy was received and the size of the ad and the size of the paper and the sizes of the other ads… and a whole lot of other factors… it might run on the page three (a prime position) or on page 22 (definitely not a prime position).

Back then, no one could buy advertising space on the front page. That space that belonged only to the newspaper, and for the sake of integrity, was not for sale.

Advertisers also tried to pull strings to keep ads from appearing next to an unfavourable story – or leverage such stories out of existence.

Many times I had to explain to convicted felons their advertising budgets were not going to hide the truth from readers.

Even people who had never advertised with us threatened to pull their advertising if the story of their errant behaviour was published.

While such stories would not be killed for a buck, the editor in charge of placement of stories wouldn’t know which ads were running where, so we couldn’t put a story next to an ad to either boost or blast an advertiser, even if we wanted.

Both for ethical and logistical reasons, the left hand seldom knew what the right hand was doing.

Today, a birth announcement next to a wedding write-up for the same couple wouldn’t raise many eyebrows. But years ago, such an accidental placement raised threats of a lawsuit.

I was amused by an online story about a Florida lawyer disbarred for having sex with “too many” of her clients in jail, accompanied by an ad for an “experienced criminal lawyer” in Vancouver – placed together from across a continent.



Just Posted

Langley Thunder stop Shamrocks

The local lacrosse season is close to wrapping up.

Throwback Thursday: July 19, 2018

Can you help us caption a photo from Langley’s past?

Our View: Location matters when it comes to candidates

Those running for civic office should live in the community they want to represent.

Looking Back: July 19, 2018

The community’s history, as seen through the files of the Langley Advance.

Have you seen this missing Langley man?

Peter Webb hasn’t been seen by his family in more than 10 days.

BC Games: Dance, spoken-word highlights at Opening Ceremony in Cowichan

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

B.C. city wants pot punted from farmland

Concerned about conversion from growing food to making marijuana

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

Canadian government threatens to retaliate if Trump imposes auto tariffs

U.S president had suggested that auto imports pose a national security risk to the U.S.

Abbotsford’s Besse sisters: Vaulting to greatness at Summer Games

Local siblings heading to Cowichan to compete in equestrian

Wildfire evacuation order forces bride to search for new wedding venue

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is under an order due to the Mount Eneas wildfire south of Peachland

Recent online kitten abuse video raises serious social media questions

UBC and UFV profs weigh in on the subject of online sharing, shaming, and our digital landscape

UPDATED: ICBC fights back against claims that it’s ‘ripping off’ B.C. RV drivers

Canadian Taxpayers Federation is urging the provincial government to open up ICBC to competition

Most Read