Thursday, August 7, 2014

Why Did The Tennessean Run A Front Page Story About Kroger's Lower Prices?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 7, 2014 at 8:30 AM

Day 1 of Stefanie Murray's reign as Executive Editor began like this (click here to see the front page of the print edition).

Yup, that's a story about Kroger — one of the paper's major advertisers — lowering prices here in Middle Tennessee. Seem a little out of place on the front page of the paper?

From the story:

Wal-Mart may call itself the "Low Price Leader," but the nation's largest grocer, The Kroger Co., says it's making its own stand on pricing, significantly lowering the costs of thousands of items in its Nashville-area stores starting Wednesday.

"This has been an initiative of The Kroger Co. for several months, so now we're rolling it out in (Nashville)," said Kroger Nashville spokeswoman Melissa Eads. "These are not items that are on sale just this week; they are new everyday low prices."

kroger.png
Of course, I couldn't find the story on the site. Why? Because the whole front page had been taken over by a Kroger ad (click on the image to enlarge). Oh, hey, look: It's a front-page headline that says exactly what the ad above it says.

But it was Wednesday, a traditional day for food advertising. Maybe it's all a coincidence. Then I received a fax (I know, I'm stunned, too) with the following, a screenshot of a tweet from the Tennessean's account telling people to "Bypass @Kroger and @Publix for broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, beans + more, and pick 'em up fresh off of a Middle TN farm."

TNTweet.jpg

Was the story on the front page of the print edition a make-up for telling their readers to skip Kroger on social media?

Here's the last graf of the story:

Besides the price cuts, Kroger offers savings on gasoline and generic prescriptions, and sends out weekly "loyalty mailers" based on customers' shopping habits. The grocer also runs weekly specials and offers digital coupons.

Wow. Is this the kind of thing we should expect from the reader-focused "newsroom of the future?"

Murray responded by email last night.

"Thanks for reaching out! No, the placement of that story had no relation to the tweet we decided to remove over the weekend. During our morning editor’s meeting, we were looking for a good talker story to place out front, and given how well retail news does for us, and stories about value (like Ms. Cheap), we went for it. I don’t even think any of the editors in that meeting aside from me know about that tweet. I felt that tweet was inappropriate because it seemed to say something poor about a business, which we shouldn’t and wouldn’t do about any businesses from a Tennessean account."

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