Monday, 21 January 2008

Shell and the International Herald Tribune

This came in as a comment to my posting on E.Rosenthal/Business of Green but worthy of a little more light.

Posted by Anon, this is what he/she has to say:

What I find more disturbing is how far the IHT will go to please oil companies. Take the IHT's June 26, 2006 front page: A "news" piece praising Shell's environmentally friendly work (http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/06/29/business/carbon.php) was placed above an ad by Shell also vaunting their eco-friendliness. All this as Shell coincidentally started a 50-State PR tour (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2006/06/28/shell-execs-going-on-50c_n_23952.html).

Honestly Anon, I think you'll find this a simple co-incidence arising from the pagination folk and editorial. As I understand it the advertising department says what ads it needs to appear on which pages, without anyone knowing what the editorial will be on any given page.

For the IHT to 'help' Shell in this way would require an editorial paginator deliberately posting a pre-planned pro-Shell piece above a pre-planned advert: that is to say, a pretty much sackable offence at the IHT, and assuming the co-operation of editorial (hard to even imagine).

If anyone who works at the IHT would like to explain how this came about please post your comment, but I think Anon is way off the mark here.

I am reminded in fact of a time when the then publisher of the IHT was visiting the president of Indonesia (Suharto I'm pretty sure) to ask permission to open a print site, and knowing this, an extremely hostile piece about his corrupt government appeared that very morning in the IHT, so that both President and Publisher could discuss the IHT with an anti-regime story on the front page of said paper on the coffee table before them.

Now that WAS equally in breach of code of ethics, but nobody complained about that.

1 comment:

Author of above mentioned comment said...

You're probably right, although it seems to have been one hell of a coincidence! The news department was surely aware of the Shell ad campaign as it was a major one that went on for months. (It also included several big inserts in news dept-produced "special reports" on energy and the environment.) Correction: the date of that front page was probably that of the article, June 29 although I'm not 100% sure.