FDIC saves the media

June 8, 2009

This is a tough time to be in the news business. It’s certainly a lot tougher running a newspaper than a bank–at least the federal government is bailing out some of the really big ones.

But the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which has had its hands full taking over failing regional banks, is also doing its small part to help out the news media. Over the course of the past year, the FDIC has shelled-out some $7.6 million in media buys and public relations activities as part of its 75th anniversary celebration.

The FDIC, in a response to a Freedom of Information request submitted by Kenneth Thomas, a finance lecturer at the Wharton School of Business, outlines how it has spent that money. As of Jan. 31, 2009, the FDIC paid about $5.6 million to pr/ad agency Weber Shandwick and another $1.97 million to Porter Novelli, a pr and lobbying firm.

The two agencies are responsible for paying subcontractors, including the doling out of the roughly $4.45 million that has gone toward paid media ads. And who have been beneficiaries of that paid media campaign? Some four-dozen news operations, including The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, BusinessWeek, People and The Kansas City Star.

Maybe one way the federal government could indirectly save the news business is by ordering every government agency to come up with an anniversary celebration.

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