As I’ve written before, my father spent decades as a partner in a large suburban Chevrolet dealership, and while I haven’t owned a GM automobile in about 15 years, I still feel a certain sense of affiliation with the company.
Seeing them revolt against the insane excesses of the Los Angeles Times is certainly heartwarming–even if it may not last.
After a number of poor editorial decisions, including running North Korean propaganda as a front-page news article last month, the Los Angeles Times not only has lost subscribers but now a major advertiser has cancelled its account at the paper. General Motors announced today that it will no longer buy advertising in Los Angeles’ only major broadsheet due to the editorial incompetence shown by the newspaper.
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For those who are tempted to scold General Motors for a lack of support for a free press, let’s remember that GM isn’t censoring the LAT at all. They have no power to do so, in any real sense. Censorship comes from the government at the threat of arrest. What GM has done in this case is to make a rational decision that its advertising dollars supported a media outlet that performed poorly and reflected badly on GM. GM will either save the money or put it into more effective advertising, and the LAT is still free to print whatever it likes. What the Tribune Co. (owners of the LAT) should understand from this development is that its revenue stream will be endangered by the poor performance of its staff — just like any company in a free-market system.
John Carroll and the Tribune Co. just learned a valuable lesson in free-market economics. They can either improve their product, or continue to rely on their near-monopoly position in Los Angeles to slowly run the newspaper into the ground.
Why stop now? That’s the model their namesake on the East Coast has chosen.
Update: Found via Hugh Hewitt, Okie on the Lam in L.A. also has some thoughts.
Hugh notes that last year, GM spent $21 million on advertising in the L.A. Times. That’s a staggering sum for the Times to lose. Riehl World View believes that GM’s move was designed to send a symbolic message to the car manufacturer’s buyers in the red states, and has some thoughts on how it will play there.
Interesting comment from Editor & Publisher:
Prudential is more alarmed about the situation, saying it should be of