AnnArbor.com heroically pushes yet further into the post-journalism frontier, selling their front page to Pete Hoekstra for a desperate, ill-conceived Stabenow smear

    I’m tempted to express outrage, but, the truth is, it’s a weak campaign, and, as Hoekstra is polling a full 16 points behind Stabenow, I don’t think it really matters. In fact, I’m kind of happy to see team Hoekstra pissing away what’s left in their coffers like this. In fact, here’s hoping the folks at AnnArbor.com can think of a few more creative ways to separate the candidate from his money.

    How about some animated pop-ups of that Chinese woman in the rice paddy hat from Hoekstra’s last offensive ad campaign? Wouldn’t it be cool if, every time you were half way through an article, she’d jump out from the edge of the page, yelling in pigeon English about how much she loves Debbie Stabenow, and blurting out things like “we take your jobs”? Maybe they could even come up with a jive talking, gold-toothed, black character who could thank Debbie for “all the abortion money.” Really, there are all kinds of possibilities, now that AnnArbor.com has announced to the world that everything’s for sale.

    I just wish that I was brave enough to follow them into this exciting and lucrative new world. I’d love to be able to sell my entire front page to someone like Pete Hoekstra, without a care as to how inappropriate it might appear, or how much it might hurt my credibility as an objective news source.

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      26 Comments

      1. anonymous
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 5:38 am | Permalink

        As the Ann Arbor News was one of the few papers in the country that endorsed George Bush the Lesser for a second term, this does not surprise me one bit. The people of Ann Arbor deserve better.

      2. Brainless
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 6:58 am | Permalink

        It’s advertising money, not an endorsement. You know, news has always been powered by ads. But somehow you think annarbor.com is supposed to make political statements by accepting only some ads and rejecting others. When folks talk about “the economy” this is what they’re talking about. Must be nice to be all the rest of you who get to pick and choose every dollar that comes your way. You do understand how business works, right? Or do leave that to the adults where you work, Mark?

        How about we go fish around where you work and make you feel bad for everything you do for money? How about you explain to the families of the current employees how mommy lost her job standing up for a worthless senator? I can’t wait for Thom’s unreadable take on this.

      3. Mr. X
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        I don’t think it’s the fact that they accepted an ad. I think it’s the fact that they sold their either front page. And it doesn’t help that they sold it to Hoekstra for one of his bullshit smear campaigns.

      4. Kevin
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        Viewed through a “Victory Lab” lens (new book that’s like Moneyball for politics), this ad buy shows how dysfunctional their campaign is. Are any votes going to change or turnout numbers move because of this ad in AA.com? No. It’s like me getting calls from Romney people–I live in freaking Ypsilanti! The distaste for facts, empiricism and reason will actually hurt the republicans long term, and we’re seeing it big time this year, as Obama crushes Romney in a year where the republicans could have had a good chance. Both parties are in the tank for banks and investors, but there are not very many republicans in grad school for political science and statistics, and it shows in the dramatic differences in campaign analytics. All this, despite CItizens United.

      5. Idea Man
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        How much does it cost to buy the front page of AnnArbor.com? What if we pool our money and cover it with ads for a “Worst Paper Ever” campaign?

      6. John Galt
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        What’s wrong? You don’t believe in freedom of the press (to violate journalistic norms)?

      7. KKT
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        Hoekstra makes it sound like people are in the streets debating what makes Stabenow the worst Senator.

        “There are lots of reasons why you could identify her as being the worst senator and that’s what people are debating” he says.

        He wants people to think that people are discussing her like they’re discussing the replacement refs in the NFL. The truth is, though, no one cares about Stabenow. She’s totally middle of the road. She’s no more a radical than he is, and he knows it. It’s not like he’s running against Kucinich, or someone who’s really advocated for progressive values. That’s why the whole thing rings hollow. He just looks like a jackass.

      8. Elf
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        How can you criticize a journalistic institution that runs stories with headlines like:

        Ryan Gosling in Ann Arbor? Probably not

        Maybe it’s a new series. Maybe tomorrow the front page headline will be “Laddy Gaga in Ann Arbor? Probably not”. That would be exciting, wouldn’t it?

        http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/ryan-gosling-is-not-in-ann-arbor—probably/#.UGSozRihDrs

      9. Meta
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the link, Elf. I enjoyed this comment.

        Macabre Sunset
        1:38 PM on 9/27/2012

        I would like to better understand the editorial process related to this blog. Are there daily meetings when content is discussed, like there were in the “olden” days of newspapers? Is there something in place so that if Needham decides it would be interesting to run a story about a faked twitter post pretty much nobody read, someone else grips him by the shoulders and says, “Bob, really? This Gosling thing has to stop.”

        I think it would be interesting to learn about how in the world this “story” made it to the front page of this blog. Or maybe a special episode of Lou Grant where the entertainment writer walks up to Lou and suggests a story about a fake Ryan Gosling sighting twitter post, and Lou defenestrates him on the spot.

      10. Posted September 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know…I kind of like the idea of Mark selling space on this site. I can picture having a little EOS pop up in the middle of a post and start yelling at me about something. Or Dan & Thom can show up with little boxing gloves on and knock each other about. Maybe even a tiny Mark could show up and wag its finger at us if we are writing a comment that he doesn’t agree with….

      11. Bob
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        Where is my banner coupon for a dollar off a coney dog pizza and a bean sprout IPA?

      12. Bob
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        …at Corner Brewery.

      13. Fran
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        Who gives a fuck? It’s called freedom of the press. Be more intellectually insecure, why don’t you? Not everybody thinks in such black and white terms as Red=EVIL and Blue=YAY, where to give consideration to or associate with people of the wrong color means being unforgivably tainted by association. We have plenty of words for that kind of attitude…none of which you would like, I think.

      14. Elvis Costello
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        I contacted the Hoekstra campaign and asked if Stabenow was really the worst Senator ever, considering that John C. Breckenridge joined the Confederacy…

      15. Posted September 27, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        I never said that I was against advertising. As Bob points out, I have one ad a month on this site. It helps me defray the costs associated with having the site, and I’d like to think that it helps the local companies who are advertising. So I don’t begrudge them their ads. Their employees, after all, need to eat. This to me, however, just seemed to cross the line. Maybe it was the fact that it was the an all out assault, from every margin of their front page. Or maybe it was that it was an ad for a terrible, intellectually dishonest, race-baiting politician. Or maybe I just couldn’t believe that the company would so eagerly sell off their perceived objectivity for short-term financial gain. For whatever reason, I chose to mention it here, as I thought that it would generate dialogue. Thanks for you comments.

      16. Posted September 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        And, Fran, I never said that they shouldn’t be able to sell their front page to Hoekstra. It’s their right, just as it’s my right to comment on it. I don’t care what they do. As I said, though, I think it crossed a line. I think selling the entire skin of your site, as they’ve done in this instance, is a sign of bad things to come. I may be wrong. They may have an incredibly strong wall situated between their editorial staff and their team selling ads. My concern, however, is that this might demonstrate a willingness to push established boundaries a bit. And, even if that’s not the case, there’s that perception, which I expect will hurt them in the marketplace. I think seeing things like this, especially in a town as liberal as Ann Arbor, will turn people off. At any rate, I’m sorry I upset you so much by bringing this up. I’ll let you get back to your article on how a certain celebrity isn’t in Ann Arbor now.

      17. demi less
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

        fran, i dont think political analysis is your strong suit…

      18. Elf
        Posted September 28, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

        Does anyone know which celebrities aren’t in Ann Arbor today?

      19. anon
        Posted September 28, 2012 at 10:20 am | Permalink

        i know that your ma isn’t in aa today (she’s in my bed)

      20. Posted September 28, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        I enjoy how many Americans are under the impression that the first amendment is a guarantee not for unrestricted political speech, but a guarantee of freedom from criticism.

      21. kjc
        Posted September 28, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        fran’s right. who gives a fuck what fran thinks.

      22. Fran
        Posted September 28, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

        By no means am I under the impression that freedom of the press is equivalent to freedom from criticism, as one person said. Asserting that is like saying that x=not x, since the “press” as a body and as it generally functions in society is basically the collusion of research and criticism. Freedom of the press is basically equivalent to the general freedom for the people to criticize and dissent in general – especially in the age of bloggers where the line between “press” and “not press” is extremely blurred.

        Mark, I appreciate your response, but I’m also further convinced that your “concern” over the possible editorial compromise or prejudice of AnnArbor.com stems totally from the fact that you hate Republicans. You point out that they sold ad space to Hoekstra and that you only criticize this move because it clearly could mean an editorial bias on the part of the paper or an endorsement of this candidate (who sucks, by the way, not defending Hoekstra). But you aren’t pointing out or citing any articles where they do a puff piece on Hoekstra and cite incorrect facts in support of that or anything; you know, something that actually would indicate bias. To anyone reading this piece on your blog who isn’t already a total reactionary when it comes to the blanket demonization of half of the country (Republicans) this post comes across as weak sauce that makes you seem hilariously biased…at a cost to some of your own “perceived objectivity”. You say that you don’t begrudge them this and you don’t begrudge them that, but you absolutely do.

        Plus, in a town like Ann Arbor that is so liberal, as you said, these ads are basically a waste of money. For all you know the staff of AnnArbor.com is yukking it up and spending the Hoekstra ad revenue on Stabenow baseball hats.

      23. Posted September 28, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

        It’s a personal blog, Fran.

      24. James Madison
        Posted September 29, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        Mark is right, the political ad on AA.com’s front page is a debasement of journalism by the standards of respectable, mainstream journalism of the last 100 years. The old Ann Arbor News wouldn’t have run it, at least not so prominently. But AA.com isn’t as professional as the News was, and the advent of online publications and all has resulted in a rapid, sudden decline of standards within journalism. Out and out lies by politicians and businesses are reported as if they were respectable (witness the idiotic acceptance of Republican claims that the federal deficit must be cut in order to address unemployment, when in fact — uncontested fact of history & economics — that reducing the deficit will add to unemployment).

      25. Posted October 5, 2012 at 6:07 am | Permalink

        Would they accept my ad if it said, “Is Debbie Stabenow a terrorist?” I’m curious.

      26. ricey
        Posted October 4, 2014 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        Fuck the Ann Arbor News right to hell. Ann Arbor deserves better than a right wing shit rag written by starving 20 year old bloggers.

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