When Michael Bloomberg’s campaign calls Tom Allon, it is not to voice concerns about the coverage in one of the Manhattan-based newspapers he publishes.
Usually, it’s to arrange for him to place ads in weekly and ethnic newspapers throughout the city.
On January 16, a company called Madison Square Partners L. L.C. was founded. It set up shop inside the midtown offices of Manhattan Media, which publishes City Hall News, The Capitol, Our Town, the West Side Spirit, and Avenue Magazine.
Madison Square Partners is a separate venture from the publishing empire Allon oversees. It has also led Allon to recuse himself from the endorsement process at some of his newspapers, he said.
As Allon described it in a series of interviews this week, Madison Square Partners is a company that places ads throughout the city. The result for clients is a cost-effective way to reach a targeted audience, which, in the current media landscape, is becoming increasingly difficult to find.
Currently, Madison Square Partners' main client is Michael Bloomberg’s reelection campaign. According to records at the city Campaign Finance Board, Madison Square Partners has taken in $409,007 this year from clients, with $370,487 coming from Bloomberg’s campaign. That does not represent pure profits. According to Allon, the cost of placing the ad is included in the bill Madison Square Partners sends to its clients.
Ads for Bloomberg's campaign have appeared in local and ethnic newspapers in all five boroughs, thanks to Allon.
(The only other campaign that has used Madison Square Partners is the campaign of David Weprin, who is running for city comptroller. Both campaigns employ consultant Hank Sheinkopf, who said he does not know anything about Madison Square Partners.)
In the interviews, Allon said the work of Manhattan Media and Madison Square Partners is completely separate. He also said that like most publishers, he does not steer coverage of his newspapers.
Allon also said that, for the first time, he will recuse himself from the endorsement process his newspapers will go through with candidates for office. When his editors meet with candidates, Allon said, he will not be in attendance and will not voice his opinion.
He noted that only the weekly papers at Manhattan Media (Our Town, the West Side Spirit and New York Press) make endorsements. The monthly publications (City Hall News and The Capitol) do not.