Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
The moral argument for diversity in newsrooms is also a business argument — and you need both
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Sept. 19, 2013, 2:50 p.m.
Business Models
LINK: www.nytimes.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Justin Ellis   |   September 19, 2013

tomato-can-blues

Yesterday, The New York Times came out with another impressive digital narrative package for a sports story: Tomato Can Blues.. It combines lush illustrations and audio narration and reads like a graphic novel come to life. You might even say it’s sort of like…nah, let’s keep the “S” word out of it as long as we can.

But for all its beauty and richness, just like its avalanche-themed forebear, Tomato Can Blues debuted with boring ads. Specifically, a couple of standard banner ads — which appeared last night to be coming from ad networks, no less — looking a little out of place in the otherwise carefully laid out piece.

Snow Fall (yeah, sorry) was dinged for the same problem — the ad-side creativity not matching the edit-side creativity. And if you look at the code for the ad units on Tomato Can Blues, the url in the iframe is http://www.nytimes.com/­packages/­html/­multimedia/­bundles/­projects/­2012/­AvalancheDeploy/­avalanche_ad_leaderboard.html — which, as you might gather from the address, is the exact same ad unit as in Snow Fall.

The unimaginative ads also seemed odd given that the Times seemed to have fixed this problem with one of its other recent multimedia sports narrative projects, The Jockey. Throughout that multipart story, you’ll see custom ad units from BMW. As Ad Age wrote at the time:

“Snow Fall” carried standard ad units that were not custom built for the story, clunky additions to a slick feature. After its publication, the Times’ business side said it planned to work with advertisers on custom ads for these types of stories in the future.

“This time, we learned from our mistakes,” said Tracy Quitasol, executive director of the Times Idea Lab, which designed ads in “The Jockey” promoting BMW…

Ms. Quitasol said the Times approached several companies about advertising in “The Jockey.” BMW signed on and was kept in the dark about certain elements of the story: The company didn’t initially know when it would be published, what it would look like, or even exactly how the ads would render, according to Ms. Quitasol.

“It’s brave and shows a trust for our brand,” said Ms. Quitasol.

When I reached out to the Times to see if someone could talk to me about the ad treatment in Tomato Can Blues, the paper declined to offer its staffers for an interview. Spokeswoman Linda Zebian did say over email: “We have a new head of advertising [Meredith Levien] and making sure the ads on these big multimedia projects is on the same level of the editorial is something that is on her agenda.”

Oddly, some time between that email and this story’s posting, all the ads on Tomato Can Blues seem to have disappeared, at least on our computers.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 50,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
The moral argument for diversity in newsrooms is also a business argument — and you need both
The business case for diversity and inclusion in newsrooms is important, but emphasizing the moral case is required for real and lasting change.
The NewsRun, a daily newsletter about Pakistan, cuts through the noise of a cluttered media market
Anam Khan first started the NewsRun to help other Pakistanis living abroad keep up with the news, but quickly found that people back home needed her to make sense of what’s happening in the country, too.
Another bit of good news from Apple: Publishers can now offer targeted discounts in the App Store
Want to offer a special introductory rate for students and educators? Superfans of your local football team? People who’ve hit your paywall five months running? You now can through the App Store on iPad and iPhones.