Columbia Tribune and Boone Hospital Center — transparency please
Let me start off by saying that I love, love, love the fine folks over at the Columbia Tribune. I’ve had the good pleasure of working with many of the folks over there in various capacities during my tenure with the Missourian and the J School, and I find the staff there to be largely made up of top-flight journalists.
But after checking out today’s website and front page of print, I have to ask — how cozy of a relationship does the Tribune have with Boone Hospital Center?
Here’s exhibit A, a screen shot of ColumbiaTribune.com taken at 1:30 p.m. (it’s been up most of the day, I believe):
That’s what came up for me the first time I brought the page up. The second time, I got this (a little less invasive on the advertising):
I’ve had some browser wonkiness today. I’m betting the intent was for the second shot to be the first thing seen.
Now, let’s take a look at the print edition (image courtesy of the Newseum):
That’s some serious grip-n-grin action there.
If I just saw the print edition, I might chalk it up to a slow news day. The Trib has a talented stable of photographers who know their city well and generally come through with compelling images. A photo like this, I believe at least, is out of character for the front page of the Trib. But again, we all have slow news days.
The story, which I haven’t found yet online but was able to read on the jpg, is a rehash of the ribbon-cutting — a lot of self-congratulations from the folks who made the new patient tower happen. No outside voices. No attempt at analysis. It’s a puff piece.
If I just saw the website, I might chalk it up to “that’s one hell of an ad campaign — a little invasive, but acceptable.” It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen on the Trib’s website before, but in fairness, new patient towers are a big deal, so why not have that extra special presentation for just such an occasion?
But when I look at both, I have to raise the question — where does the advertising stop and the editorial begin?
I’m hoping the Tribune has plans to answer that question in the coming days.