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March 22, 2006
While human rights activists and others applaud New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof for his coverage (by subscription) of Sudan, some are appalled at the paper’s business side for accepting an eight-page advertising insert singing the praises of the government of the African nation, which is widely considered responsible for genocide against its own citizens. The supplement lauds Sudan for facing a "peaceful, prosperous and democratic future," and, according to felixsalmon.com criticizes the media for being "focused almost exclusively on the fighting between rebels and Arab militias."
Human Rights Watch program director Iain Levine tells Daily News columnist Lloyd Grove that when he saw the ad "I practically fell off my seat on the subway …. I could not believe it."
"Would the New York Times run an advertorial extolling the charitable works of Osama bin Laden?" asks felixsalmon. "Would it run advertisements from Nambla, or from the Ku Klux Klan?"
Apparently it would. Grove quotes a Time spokesperson as saying the paper took the ad because of "our strong belief that all pages of the paper — news, editorial and advertising — must remain open to the free flow of ideas." But Mickey MacLean at World Views speculates that "it also didn’t hurt that an estimated $929,000 freely flowed into the newspaper’s coffers as a result of the section."
Well, if you only take ads from organizations that share your opinions, then people will accuse you of being bought off. That's a good argument for taking a wide range of ads, but there ought to be some limits. My blogads policy has been pretty much anything but Nazis. But Sudan looks pretty close to that line.
And, as Gateway Pundit notes, the New York Times took a different position when it came to publishing the Muhammad cartoons.