Dobrow declares victor in WSJ-Times turf war
Media reviews for media people: Wall Street Journal’s ‘Greater New York’ section is yet to pose a threat
; BY LARRY DOBROW firstname.lastname@example.org
DATELINE: MONDAY morning at the local
newsstand. As I reach for my billfold, the
proprietor gestures toward a sticker plas-
tered on the overhang: “New today: The
Wall Street Journal’s ‘Greater New York‘
A furrowed brow and disoriented
“guh?” announce my befuddlement.
How hadn’t I heard about this? Surely
any such launch by a cocksure media
colossus would have been heralded with
grand proclamations delivered over the
din of journalists scrounging for free
radishes, or at least the sort of I-know-
native to Bret Michaels’ parlor room.
Sensing this disconnect, the proprietor directs me to the small print. There I
learn that a grand, horrible newspaper
slapfight is about to be waged and that I
live smack dab in the middle of its demographic battlefield.
This is revolutionary, I think. A newspaper named after a street in New York
City—a newspaper that has spent the last
120-odd years chronicling the ups and
downs of the city’s preeminent industry
(no offense, musical theater or class warfare), no less—potentially choosing to
write about that city’s zoning kerfuffles
and condom kiosks? So brilliant! So bold!
I stop hyperventilating and plunk
down my two bucks, and practically float
home. I clear myself a comfortable place
on the couch, lay out the crisp broad
sheets before me and then ...
Then nothing. On Tuesday and
Wednesday, ditto. The Journal, it seems,
has showed up at the first battle of The
Great Newspaper War of 2010 armed
with nothing but a spoon and some
empty paint cans.
One could argue that it’s unfair to
judge the “Greater New York” section in
its first days, that all verdicts should be
withheld until it gets several volumes
under its belt. Well, by declaring its
expectation to cause a “revolution in
regional coverage,” the Journal has forfeited its grace period.
The direct target, based on statements
from folks in and around the Journal, is
The New York Times. But while the
Times’ metro coverage has seen better
days, no rational human being comparing the Monday, Tuesday and
Wednesday metro sections of the two
papers could possibly conclude that the
trash-talking challenger will topple the
heavyweight title holder anytime soon.
From the Journal’s perspective, the
thinking goes something like this:
“Greater New York” will prompt readers
unaware of the Journal’s expansion
beyond its business-only heritage to sam-
ple the paper for the first time in a while.
Once they do, they’ll note how the paper
has become more rounded and less
brainy, and pledge their undying fealty.
In theory, this makes sense. In practice, it
fails to account for the possibility that
these readers might care more about the
local news than about the other stuff,
however worldly and brilliant, that sur-
NOT SO GREAT:
By declaring its
expectation to cause a
“revolution in regional
Journal has forfeited
its grace period.
New York lunch eateries and the “real
feel” temperature. The sports coverage
pulls a groin straining for relevance; its
credibility isn’t helped by an unfortunate
tendency to report the news way after
All this would be forgotten if the core
news delivered, but the section’s front-page fare fails to excite. While an analysis of teacher-absence data connects,
much of the rest of it comes across as
scattershot: a report on the imminent end
of the Jim Calhoun era at U-Conn, a
let’s-say-nice-things-about-nice-rich-people “Donor of the Day“ piece on Dr.
Atkins’ widow, a story on the killer Yale
doctor that reads like AP copy, etc.
There’s nothing wrong with these
stories, which inform reliably enough.
But few pass the “who cares?” test.
Just compare those metro-area offerings with what the Times has monitored
this week: a barista walkout in precious
Park Slope, the continued enforcement
of loitering laws long since deemed
unconstitutional, the Sisyphean process
of naming a co-op building, an “
attendance court” for collared class-cutters.
The Times’ metro section neatly balances the outrage and the quirk, while
the Journal’s just plods along like an out-of-towner.
The Wall Street Journal remains a pillar of my media world. Its business coverage trumps anything comparable published in the English language anywhere
on earth. But the “Greater New York”
section feels like a vanity project, more
like a tacked-on third garage or a Mick
Jagger solo album than a fully realized
entity. Whatever happens on the finan-cial/advertising front, “Greater New
York” vs. the Times projects as a rout
DANONE FIGHTS DAMAGING VIRAL SLURS IN
Actimel yogurt creates playful web rumor mill to demonstrate how fast lies can spread
ARGENTINA WITH SMEAR CAMPAIGN OF ITS OWN
; BY PATRICIO CAVALLI email@example.com
BUENOS AIRES ( AdAge.com) — Danone
countered a vicious viral attack on its
Actimel yogurt brand in Argentina by
fighting rumors with ... other rumors.
As marketers struggle to find new ways
to protect their brands from social-media
onslaughts, Danone is rewriting the
playbook with its Creator of Rumors
(Creador de Rumores) digital effort.
A few months ago, a viral e-mail circulated in Argentina that directed people to
a webpage describing supposed facts
about Actimel, such as that the probiotic
yogurt brand was addictive, destroyed the
stomach’s natural flora, and could harm
children’s health. Other blogs quickly
picked up the plot, and the damaging stories were soon the top ones returned in
online searches for Actimel.
Initially, Danone used traditional
means to fight back.
“The first step was to react, respond-
ing to all bloggers and websites who post-
ed news about Actimel with the wrong
message,” said Andrea Fogarolli, brand
manager in Argentina for Actimel, an
international brand known as DanActive
in the U.S. “[We] also answered ques-
tions that came to our consumer-infor-
mation website. As a second step, we aired
a commercial where we spoke specifically
about the malicious e-mail.”
In the TV spot, Daniel Mainatti, a pop-
ular young investigative journalist, walks
through a park surrounded by families
playing with their children, and talks
about the yogurt brand: “You can trust
Actimel. Anyone can have it. It’s always
good to have an Actimel.”
By February, the company was ready
to try something new. Enter local digital
agency Sinus, with a campaign encourag-
ing people to go to a new rumor-creation
website called creadorderumores.com. At
the site, visitors can generate rumors and
create a list of friends to send the link con-
taining the rumor. The site includes a
sample rumor followed by the takeaway
message: “Don’t believe everything you
see on the internet. I’ll show you how
easy it is to spread a rumor about you.”
“What we are trying to do is show
people how easy it is to lie and deceive on
the web, and how careful we as con-
sumers must be to get truths about
brands,” said Sebastian Garcia Padin,
owner of Sinus.
YOUR FIB HERE:
Via the Actimel effort,
people can claim to
have won the lottery,
a trip to the World Cup
or to be undertaking a
tour with a Britsh rock
[digital] experience,” she said. “Now we
see the web environment makes it neces-
sary to be always present. We’re just real-
izing that, and this action shows that if we
do something fun, a lot of people get
hooked and viralize it.”
Danone said the initial viral slurs
about Actimel being harmful didn’t hurt
the brand’s sales, but declined to disclose
any figures. Industry experts estimate
Actimel has about a 5% share of
Argentina’s yogurt market—but close to
80% of the priobiotic segment—and
sales of about $2 million a year.
“This was Actimel’s first digital shot,
but it should have been its tenth,” Mr.
Padin said. “Brands must not leave gaps