Things are tough all over, but they must be really tough for the New York Times: The venerable daily announced today that it has begun selling display ads on its front page.
"In its latest concession to the worst revenue slide since the Depression, The New York Times has begun selling display advertising on its front page, a step that has become increasingly common across the newspaper industry," the paper said in a story in its Media & Advertising section.
The first such ad, which appeared today, was a color ad for CBS running in a strip across the bottom of the front page. The Times said front-page ads would be placed "below the fold" - on the bottom half of the page - at least for now.
The 157-year-old Times previously has run an occasional one-column, two- or three-line classified ad at the bottom of Page One, but never before has that sacred precinct been invaded by display advertising.
"The Times would not disclose the rates it charges for ads on the front page," the paper said. "Ordinarily, such space would be coveted by advertisers for its prominence, but it remains to be seen how well it will sell in the current climate, in which ad spending is plummeting."
Other major newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times, already sell ad space on their front pages.
The Bulletin so far has avoided putting ads on its front page and its section fronts, but with the paper diminishing to leaflet size we have to wonder how long that can last.