Letters, March 2, 2009

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Owners' greed is hurting newspapers

RE: "It's Not Newspapers in Peril; It's Their Owners" (AA, Feb. 23). Thanks for the well-written piece. It's the first thing I've read in mainstream publications that spells out the difference, and something I've been trying to explain to people for a while. So it was good to see the confirmation.

Clearly, times aren't as rosy for newspapers as they were a few years back, but the message that gets played out over and over is that metro newspapers are on their deathbed, gasping for their last breath. They are still pretty good moneymakers and still do a decent job in their communities covering what they are supposed to cover.

Unfortunately, the same kind of genius that got the economy in the mess it's in pervaded the newspaper industry's corporate brain trusts. The result was taking on too much debt, all brought on by optimistically paying too much for newspaper (media) properties and thinking they could simply cut expenses to make up the difference. In much the same manner that Main Street is now paying for the excesses of Wall Street, Main Street readers are paying (or not) for the excesses of large corporate newspaper company bosses with less interesting products, less serious reporting and an uneasy sense that our communities' interests are somehow less watched over by the fourth estate.

But from the recent general reporting on the newspaper industry, who knew? Thanks again for a good piece of writing.

Pat Taylor
Advertising director
The Pilot
Southern Pines, N.C.

McDonald's ad is not amusing

I am disabled and watch a lot of daytime TV. Many of the commercials shown are very irritating. There's no way to give feedback to the advertising agencies themselves, and the companies they represent won't listen. The current McDonald's commercial butchering the English language with "hunger pains" vs. "hunger pangs" is a case in point. The ad gives the impression that the guy mispronouncing the phrase is correct. This is typical American anti-intellectualism.
Scott M. Davis
Tempe, Ariz.

Advertising could help U.S. image

America should start advertising itself. What could be more righteous than for the country that invented modern advertising to advertise itself? Now, more than ever, the world needs to be reminded of what's great about America after almost a decade of bad press. That's why America needs a paid ad campaign, which ensures positive messages that get through un-mauled.

What talented ad people in all the world wouldn't want to work on it? Hey, what a product. A simple premise, easily translatable everywhere might be: "America: We are you." Say, a series of ads featuring Americans from Thomas Edison to the two Google inventors (one of whom is from Moscow), plus regular Americans doing worthy things and showing each person's heritage.

America is the most powerful country, and we got this way because of people who came here from somewhere else. Everywhere else. Let's remind the world that "America came from your place." The whole world should have a sense of pride in America. Because the whole world is where we came from.

Larry Brown
Ad Simple
East Hampton, N.Y.

Why wouldn't older crowd try Facebook?

RE: "Marketers Adapt as Social Networks Attract Older Users" (AA, Feb. 23). I was slightly surprised to see my parents and all of their friends on Facebook, right alongside my college-age brother and his friends.

But as a woman in her 30s who is launching a new endeavor, having quick, easy access to friends and contacts has been invaluable to my business, both in terms of feedback and marketing.

Having people 35 and over on the site may not have been Facebook's idea of cool, but for those of us who have figured out how to use social networking to our advantage -- beyond "throwing a snowball" at a friend from college or "poking" a former colleague, that is -- the sites have more and more appeal and value.

Heather O'Neill
Eco to the People
San Francisco


RE: "It's Not Newspapers in Peril; It's Their Owners" (AA, Feb. 23). The story incorrectly said the Rocky Mountain News lost $16 billion in 2008. In fact the paper lost only $16 million. It also associated the Chandler family with Knight Ridder, rather than the Times Mirror Co.

In "Guess Which Medium is Effective as Ever: TV" (AA, Feb. 23) the full name of the Aegis Group unit MMA -- Marketing Management Analytics -- was incorrectly listed as Media Marketing Assessment.

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