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Paid Ads on the Fiscal Cliff


Though fewer news consumers are subscribing to print publications, the venerable tactic of buying a full-page newspaper ad to promote one’s policy cause is alive and well and supplying journalism operations with badly needed revenue.

In today’s Washington Post, two such broadsheet ads addressing the looming talks over avoiding the “fiscal cliff” appeared opposite one another.

One full-page ad is an open letter to the president and Congress from 30 individuals affiliated with unions, liberal think tanks, and community activist organizations declaring that the message this week from voters was “for strengthening the middle class and putting people back to work -- not for job-killing budget cuts and attacks on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.” It calls on leaders to raise taxes on the wealthy, invest in infrastructure, preserve entitlements and safety-net programs and stop the looming sequester.

A separate half-page ad comes from a roster of 50 public policy heavyweights assembled by the Bipartisan Policy Center. It calls on Congress and the president to “quickly shift from campaigning to governing” because the tone and substantive achievements of the upcoming weeks will impact market confidence and the economic recovery. Signers include AOL co-founder Steve Case, former defense contractor executive Norman Augustine, and former Sens. Howard Baker, R-Tenn., and George Mitchell, D-Maine.

Will these expensive pleas have impact? Perhaps we must wait until Jan. 1 to find out.

Charles S. Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books, and organizational media strategies.

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