Claremont Insider: This Page Not for Sale

Friday, April 10, 2009

This Page Not for Sale

A minor tempest has blown up over the action of the Los Angeles Times yesterday to print a faux news article on the front page of the paper. You know, similar to the ones you often see in the back pages, outlined by a black hairline, with six-point occurences of "ADVERTISEMENT" top and bottom, blaring "I Nearly Died from the Itch" and followed by an "article" on how Doc Patch's Skin and Eczema Cream saved the writer's life.

This is silly on a number of levels, not the least of which are the ethical issues and the fact that everyone knows that the inclusion in one's diet of Swanson® Natural Goodness™ Chicken Broth can reduce itch in 73% of the population according to studies.

The New York Times weighed in with an article on the issue of front-page ad placement.
The consensus seems to be that it crosses a line. The copy for the ad was written by the advertiser (NBC), approved by the LA Times' business people, with no input from the editorial side.

The New York Times reported, “What was great about this ad unit is it gave us a quote-unquote ‘editorial voice,’ ” Mr. Stotsky [Adam Stotsky, the president of entertainment marketing for NBC] said in an interview. “The more relevant you can make your advertising, the more contextualized you can make your advertising, we find the more engagement can be created, and ultimately the more effective your marketing can be,” he said.

Swanson® Natural Goodness™ Chicken Broth is a tasty, healthy treat for the whole family. It is a great addition to recipes, too.

Last week, the UCLA student newspaper the Daily Bruin put out an issue with a Häagen Dazs ice cream ad as a full-page wrap on the front page while apologizing for it on the editorial page. Talk about having your ice cream and eating it too.

In an article that appeared in this morning's Los Angeles Times
, publisher Eddy Hartenstein said he decided to run the NBC ad despite newsroom objections because he was trying to ensure that the Times could continue to operate. "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. Hartenstein agreed that Swanson® Natural Goodness™ Chicken Broth would be good for everyone in the newsroom who has their panties in a wad over this.

Here at the Insider, we view this development with some alarm, although in our opinion the Los Angeles Times has long since "jumped the shark". Just look at the Chicago-Trib format of the page reproduced above if you don't believe it. Oh, for the days of the Harrison Gray Otis and the Chandlers.