Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Bickering over Access: New York Daily News and Newsday Complain about Democratic National Committee's Exclusive Deal with the New York Times

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Bickering over Access: New York Daily News and Newsday Complain about Democratic National Committee's Exclusive Deal with the New York Times

Article excerpt

Everyone makes a fuss when the Democratic Convention comes to town.

Along with the homeless supporters, AIDS activists, and face-offs staged by both sides of the abortion issue, protests were aimed at the Democratic National Convention Committee by the Daily News and New York Newsday, although both papers claimed that the complaints have been registered "in principle."

The source of the complaints was an exclusive deal between the New York Times and the Democratic National Convention Committee. The Times was the only newspaper allowed to distribute its special convention publication on the convention floor. Each night the delegates found a copy on his or her chair.

However, the newspaper distributed was not the New York Times, but its marketing department's joint-venture product with the DNC, the Convention Times.

"The fact that the Democratic National Committee would have an agreement of exclusivity with any media outlet is disturbing," said Chiara Coletti, Newsday spokeswoman. "All of the media should have the same access to the conventioneers."

"The New York Times was not distributed inside the hall. A special bulletin created with the Democratic National Convention Committee was distributed inside the hall," said William K. Adler, Times spokesman.

The publication was created by the marketing department and the committee to let conventioneers "take advantage of what New York has to offer," Adler said. It was written by former Times staff members and freelance writers.

Regardless of whether or not it is an advertorial or editorial product, Matt Storin, executive editor of the Daily News, said that the publication was competing with the News' afternoon convention edition for advertising dollars.

The special convention issue of the Daily News was distributed to delegates at entrances of Madison Square Garden each evening.

From the outset, the Convention Times tried to distance itself from its parent by stating in press releases that the Convention Times was a product of the Times' marketing department and not associated with the news staff.

The Times news staff wrapped its convention news coverage around the second section of the regular newspaper. Extra copies of the newspaper were printed, but not enough to increase circulation significantly, Adler said.

In fact, what sealed the deal with the DNC was the fact that the exclusive partnership allowed the committee several pages within the Convention Times to print its own messages.

Newsday produced a 90-page magazine-style guide that was distributed to the conventioneers and the media through their welcome packets given out by the New York Host Committee. The guide contained articles written by Newsday columnists giving an insider's view into New York. Restaurants, Broadway, celebrities, museums, shopping and the subway were all covered in the booklet.

Newsday had no problem with its distribution arrangements for the guide but, Coletti said, "in principle" the Times' arrangement seemed unfair.

Storin also protested the Times' use of non-Newspaper Guild writers to produce the Convention Times.

The Newspaper Guild of New York filed a grievance because the Convention Times used free-lance writers instead of union members, Guild President Barry Lipton said.

Some publications providing exclusive coverage of the convention, such as Congressional Quarterly's National Convention News and the National Journal Convention Daily were distributed in the press areas of Madison Square Garden and at the delegates' hotels.

Other assorted publications around the convention included the Rainbow Coalition's platform "Rebuild America," and former California Governor Jerry Brown's "We the people."

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