Orgy of Self Promotion

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Is the orgy of self-promotion over at the NTV, The Herald and OZ FM getting ever more debauched? Or am I the only one who sees this? 


It manifests itself most obviously in covers of The Herald, which routinely feature NTV programs and personalities (and sometimes OZ FM as well).

And it is getting worse, no question about that.

It started earlier this year, on May 9, with a Mother’s Day cover featuring Toni Marie Wiseman.

A week later, on May 22, the OZ FM summer road show ladies were on the cover, of an issue that featured a free Winner’s Circle inside. 


Then Toni Marie had her baby, and mother and child were featured on the cover of the September 5 edition.

On September 12, Glen Carter of NTV News First Edition graced the cover.

On October 17, the entire NTV News team was on the cover. Again.

Now, I may have missed a few. And the year is not over yet. 

This is nothing new. I had to deal with it myself, when I worked as editor of The Herald. However, we also managed to feature CBC programs, including Here & Now, on the cover, and sometimes quietly ignored some of the cover directives that came from higher up (it being easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission).

As an aside, I remember receiving calls from people in NTV publicity, ordering us to write a story, or even arrange a cover, featuring their programs and personalities. There was always tension between us, as I explained that they could request space, but not demand it.

That tension, I fear, has long since dissipated between the two, replaced by an eagerness to please that is healthy for neither The Herald nor NTV. After all, this shameless self-promotion has become a running joke among the populace, and is damaging – rather than enhancing – credibility.

And I am not criticizing the people who actually appear on the cover. They seldom have any choice in the matter – it comes with the job description. However, those who run the Stirling empire know that covers are an important factor in selling magazines at the checkout. And I submit that another – yet another – photo of the NTV news team is not going to have them flying off the stands.

In other words, there is an opportunity cost whenever you feature the same old, same old on the cover, versus something new and exciting.

And speaking of lost opportunities, why must every Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cover focus on an NTV or OZ personality? Surely there are other fertile Newfoundlanders and Labradorians out there, worthy of cover treatment? This is an opportunity to recognize the many great mothers and fathers out there. Instead, it is wasted on same old, same old.

The cross promotion gets so blatant that it borders on ridiculous. Consider the September 12 cover, featuring Glen Carter, which proclaimed that First Edition was “revolutionizing local news coverage.” Um, no. Not at all. That is advertising copy. And the cover should be reserved for editorial copy

Then there was the time, back in September, when Glen Carter was reading a news story about new buses. I don’t know if they were school buses or what, but I did hear Carter say they were equipped with full stereo systems, “so that passengers on the bus can listen to OZ FM.” He said it with a smile, but it was during the actual newscast – and it’s a bad thing when self-promotion creeps into news stories.

Either way, the situation is getting ridiculous. And the biggest, most glaring problem would be those Herald covers. They might not admit it publicly, but Herald staff would likely agree with me. They know there are more interesting cover subjects out there, and their credibility is being slowly squandered with every new NTV and OZ cover.

When I started writing for The Herald in 1980, circulation was above 60,000 copies a week. In the early 80s, the price was doubled, from .50 cents to $1… and sales fell straight through the floor, down to 20,000 copies a week. Thus began a long, slow recovery. When I left in 1988, we were greater than 45,000 a week. Not a bad comeback.

I have no idea if the numbers went up or down after I left. But I do know that circulation now sits at about 13,000 per week – which is a disaster.

Some may blame editorial content for this decline, but that would be simplistic and unfair. I think it has more to do with The Herald being known as a TV guide, in an era when people get their listings onscreen, from the cable service. Printed TV guides are an anachronism, and the magazine needs to diversify.

Easier said than done, I know.

But one thing is for sure: the ad nauseum NTV covers don’t enhance sales or credibility. The more the magazine is perceived as a billboard for NTV, the less seriously it will be taken by local media consumers.

What next? Perhaps The Herald will feature The Herald on the cover?



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Recent comments

  • Steph
    December 07, 2011 - 09:05

    NTV is a JOKE!

  • pam ghent
    November 22, 2010 - 02:33

    Hawco (Doyle) has been on the cover, this past summer. I'm sure of it,. Might even have it around somewhere. Just sayin'

  • dawn
    November 19, 2010 - 09:18

    Love this article!! I live in Halifax now and I watch NTV from time to time on digital cable. It is so funny to hear feedback from my "mainlander" husband on the commercials and the news personalities. I was raised with NTV and didn't think a thing about the relationship between the 3 enterprises but, to look now as an adult, it really is sooo ridiculous. I remember when Lorraine Pope's baby won Baby of the Year or one of those "cutesy" titles from The Herald. I was aghast at how arrogant and unfair that was to the rest of the parents that had submitted their pix ( I was NOT one of the parents, btw-I was only 16). It was so blatantly inappropriate. For those of you wondering, who in the heck is LP, she was the weather girl or something at NTV. I still shake my head at that one. Dawn Marie

  • David W
    November 18, 2010 - 06:39

    You guys should go in to comedy.

  • Alex B
    November 17, 2010 - 20:24

    What does this blog has to do with Danny. David W if you have a problem about Geoff and his opinion about how Danny operates keep it to yourself till the subject is Danny.By the way i heard Danny just got a new pair of black frame glasses.

    • Beaner
      November 19, 2010 - 09:04

      Personally, I'm waiting for the day he invests in a bow tie.

  • W McLean
    November 16, 2010 - 16:34

    David W, you seem to be a bit hazy on the meaning of the word "every". As with other DannyFans, your problem doesn't seem to be so much that "every" posting criticises Danny, but rather than ANY of them do.

  • Geoff Meeker
    November 16, 2010 - 14:54

    David: No, that isn't what you said. You said, "Every blog, article, story you write criticizes the Premier." Perhaps that's not what you meant, but it's what you said. As one who signs his name to everything, I tend to think of all anonymous commenters as trolls. If you say something nice, then I guess you're a friendly troll. You say my commentaries on Williams are "all the same", which is ridiculous and indicates that you haven't read them. Or are you suggesting they are the same because I fail to point out the good things he has done? What if I can't think of enough good things to make that exercise worthwhile? What if, as I said before, the bad far outweighs the good?

  • David W
    November 16, 2010 - 12:38

    Geez Geoff, I don't know where to start. That's professional of you calling me a troll. And you need to brush up on your reading skills. You say ''I do mention his incompetence and bullying frequently – though certainly not in “every blog”, as you stupidly suggest" I didn't say that. I said ''every story about Danny or his gov't'' not every story. That's a big difference and if you can point me to a blog you wrote about Danny that isn't criticizing him then pleasse do. Secondly, I have no devotion to him. I am merely pointing out as I have done before that I like to read your blog for stories about actual media items, like the current one on NTV, but so many of your blogs are political commentaries on Danny Williams and ALL OF THOSE are the same. As for your suggestion to stop reading, maybe I should although I've never heard a blogger suggest to his readers to stop reading his blog. And contrary to your opinion, when someone disagrees with you they are not necessarily a troll or a political hack as you have said before. You say attempting to write some about the Premier would be intellectually dishonest. That is laugable. All premiers have had pros and cons but they have ALL had some pros.

    • Beaner
      November 19, 2010 - 09:02

      I'm not entirely pro-Geoff Meeker, but I really must defend him here. Mostly because you (David W) are an idiot. In this comment you say: "You say ''I do mention his incompetence and bullying frequently – though certainly not in “every blog”, as you stupidly suggest" I didn't say that. I said ''every story about Danny or his gov't'' not every story. That's a big difference..." But in your comment made on November 16th, 2010 at 08:16:58, you actually do write: "Every blog, article, story you write criticizes the Premier." So, you did, actually, stupidly suggest it. Just saying.

  • Geoff Meeker
    November 16, 2010 - 11:23

    To David W (another anonymous troll): For me, attempting to write good things about Premier Williams is intellectually dishonest, much like picking through the bones of Joey Smallwood’s legacy, looking for “the positive”. No, I am among a (rapidly growing) minority who can see that the bad far outweighs the good. Furthermore, the premier is the biggest news story in this province, by far. I do mention his incompetence and bullying frequently – though certainly not in “every blog”, as you stupidly suggest – because his behaviour has a dramatic impact on what news gets reported, and HOW it gets reported. How is my criticism of the premier different from your devotion to him? We have a right - a duty, even - to say how we honestly feel. So, no apologies from me. Perhaps you should stop reading, if you have such delicate sensibilities.

  • David W
    November 16, 2010 - 08:08

    Okay there Geoff (and W Mclean), let me put it another way which I have also said before. Every blog, article, story you write criticizes the Premier. Whenever I see the title of your blog I only need to read the first few lines to confirm the blog is criticizing Williams or a decision he has made. When he or his gov't makes a good decision you do not write about it. That's what I mean about being objective. We, as readers know what angle you will take on every "Danny" story so we won't even bother to read them anymore. I can't imagine you only want those people who share the same opinion as you to read your blogs. That would defeat (half) the purpose, wouldn't it?

    • Willi Makit
      November 16, 2010 - 13:06

      Gee David W, speaking of predictability, you seem to have a challenge even writing a comment without mentioning Williams. If you really seem to think that there's a lot of good to say about the Premier's dealings and influence on the media, how about suggesting 2 or 3 column ideas for Meeker to consider. Like Meeker (and many others), I'm stuck to think of any story that meets your criteria of being ''positive'' that would be considered factual that the public would be interested in. Please enlighten us.

  • Alex B
    November 15, 2010 - 23:03

    Geoff. I was there for 29 years working at the Herald and Sterling Press on the printing press even when you were there and many other editors as well i might add . It was always common for the production workers to comment if we didn't print a Herald without a NTV or OZFM cover theme within 10 or 12 issues the last few years i was there. I remember when you were editor and Bob Hallett after you and Karen Dawe it was your decision back then that you stood by on the cover story. But i suppose the editorial staff today have two options and they are taking the first one.Even though we don't see a lot of CBC programs featured on Herald covers these days why not the Republic of Doyle. I know the CBC show is renting our old printing plant from Mr.Stirling in the same building as the Herald office.

  • W McLean
    November 15, 2010 - 17:57

    David W, can you please tally up the number of "negatively slanted columns" about Danny Williams that Meeker has posted? For that matter, can you tell us what's wrong with "negatively slanted columns" about Danny Williams? While you're at it, can you post a link to an "objective" one?

  • Greg Mallard
    November 15, 2010 - 15:13

    "NTV - Your Superhero Station". I've never forgotten that.

  • Geoff Meeker
    November 15, 2010 - 15:05

    David: How does one write an objective opinion piece? Let me guess: When you agree, it is objective and when you don't, it is biased. What does "negatively slanted" mean? I don't dwell in the land of positive vs. negative. I only understand accurate vs. inaccurate. All of my observations on Williams have been accurate.

  • Ken OBrien
    November 15, 2010 - 11:57

    The cosy relationship between the Newfoundland Herald and NTV certainly has been easy to see for years. The Herald has always been a different publication, what with Captain Newfoundland and Captain Canada cartoons, "history" items involving astrology, crystals, and pyramid power, and offbeat news. These days, it really is just a TV guide with a bit of local content. I hope it can become more. I buy it from time to time, but the NTV covers sure don't encourage me to buy.

  • David W
    November 15, 2010 - 11:09

    Geoff, first of all, great column and not only because it isn't a negatively slanted column about Danny Williams. One day, yes one day, we may get an objective one. You hit the nail on the head with this one. I've often made the comment to my wife and others, "how many times do we need to see Fred, Lynn, Toni Marie or Glen Carter on the cover. Although you don't blame those on the cover I'm sure Glen "look at me" Carter relishes the publicity that suits his personality perfectly.