First, if you are trying to be look objective, you don’t buy ads for political candidates.
But, let’s just take the Seattle Times at it’s word and assume they are running an $80,000 experiment to show how effective it is to run an ad in their newspaper.
Here’s why political consultants lean against running ads in regional papers:
First, most races are geographically specific so it would not be cost-effective to do an ad in a regional paper.
Second, it’s not like the ad is on page one. I have to hope that someone flips to the page and then notices my ad.
Third, it’s not targeted. With direct mail, you can send a piece exactly to the houses you are targeting. With cable TV, you can choose stations based on demographics and you can choose geographic zones.
There is no question that $80k in newspaper ads in the Seattle Times is helpful to the McKenna campaign. No one who works in politics will say it isn’t. But, the McKenna campaign is not choosing between mediums. They are getting a free ad.
I’m not really sure how the Seattle Times is going to prove that their ad made a crucial difference. Furthermore, I don’t think the Seattle Times is going to change any political consultant’s mind about how to spend campaign resources given the arguments (laid out above) against newspaper ads.
So, the Seattle Times isn’t changing the minds of political consultants. They’ve received a letter from their reporters asking them to not print the ads. It’s very clear this is a blow to their perceived objectivity.
Why wouldn’t they decide not to run the ads?