Uproar over 'news story' ad on front page of LA Times

Apr 10, 2009
The "Los Angeles Times" newspaper building in downtown Los Angeles. An advertisement dressed up as a news story on the front page of the Los Angeles Times has reporters at the newspaper fuming and the publisher defending the move.

An advertisement dressed up as a news story on the front page of the Los Angeles Times has reporters at the newspaper fuming and the publisher defending the move.

The advertisement, for the NBC television series "Southland," appeared on page one of the Times on Thursday. Although it was labelled "advertisement," the ad resembled a news story complete with a bold-type headline.

According to the blog MediaMemo, more than 100 staffers at the newspaper signed a petition protesting the appearance of the fake news story ad on the front page.

"We the journalists of the newsroom strenuously object to the decision to sell an ad, in the form of a phony news story, on the front page of the Los Angeles Times," mediamemo.allthingsd.com quoted the petition as saying.

"The NBC ad may have provided some quick cash, but it has caused incalculable damage to this institution," it said. "Placing a fake news article on A-1 makes a mockery of our integrity and our journalistic standards.

"Our willingness to sell our most precious real estate to an advertiser is embarrassing and demoralizing," the petition said.

The Times said about 70 readers had complained about the ad, which was published over the objections of the newspaper's editor, Russ Stanton.

Publisher Eddy Hartenstein told the Times he had decided to run the ad despite protests from the newsroom because he was trying to ensure the newspaper's survival.

"Because of the times that we're in, we have to look at all sorts of different -- and some would say innovative -- new solutions for our advertising clients," he said.

The Los Angeles Times is owned by the Chicago-based Tribune Co., which declared bankruptcy in December.

Like other US newspapers, the Times has seen a steep decline over the past year in print and has been forced to lay off hundreds of employees.

(c) 2009 AFP

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User comments : 11

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Doug_Huffman
5 / 5 (1) Apr 10, 2009
Perhaps a return to the original newspaper business model is in order, sell news only to readers and let the junk-mailers handle the advertisements.
joex
5 / 5 (1) Apr 10, 2009
"Publisher Eddy Hartenstein told the Times he had decided to run the ad despite protests from the newsroom because he was trying to ensure the newspaper's survival."

There is a simple fix for having idiots in management.
Suzu
5 / 5 (1) Apr 11, 2009
Newspapers are dying breed.
Fazer
not rated yet Apr 11, 2009
>>>"There is a simple fix for having idiots in management."

So, you would rather the paper go out of business? I agree with Suzu that printed newspapers are a dying breed, but newspapers are businesses, and they must bring in revenue to survive. They survive off ads, not subscriptions, so what is so strange about having an ad on the front page? At least they are being honest about who pays the bills.
Bob_B
5 / 5 (1) Apr 11, 2009
Why read the paper? They all have the same news as CNN, unless its the local arrest log, or the local school scores. The stories in the Bend Bulletin, for example, are at least 1 day old, often 2. They scrape some news from the day before and printed it today. So, the 'news' argument is null.
Fazer
not rated yet Apr 11, 2009
Well, I agree, if they are just reprinting from the AP, but there is important, local news gathering and investigative reporting that could be lost if local papers go out of business. The thing is, if people really want that, something new will arise to replace the old newspaper model. Maybe the whole process will start out fresh and new, with local blog outfits doing the hard work of collecting info, and paying for their efforts through google type ads. Who knows. That's the beauty of capitalism: If there is a need, someone will capitalize on it and provide a new service.
MenaceSan
5 / 5 (1) Apr 11, 2009
Thats ok. They cant lose any more integrity.
barakn
2.5 / 5 (2) Apr 12, 2009
I'm not sure I want to skim through 100 blogs a day to find news about my community. There ought to be an online aggregator, something like an online newspaper....
bmcghie
5 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2009
^ Some sort of engine that searches? Hmmm...
Fazer
5 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2009
LOL, yeah, if only there was some service that would put together all of the science related articles that I traditionally would get from magazines like Popular Science/Mechanics, Sky & Telescope, etc, into one comprehensive web site...
barkster
5 / 5 (2) Apr 13, 2009
.. and do it for free... and let people discuss openly what is true/false, fake/real, or substantive/irrelevant...

Gosh, I can't wait.