Thursday, April 30, 2009

Newspapers And "Aditorial Content"

My, my, the hand-wringing and rending of garments over the L.A. Times' recent running of an ad (thinly) disguised as news content on its front page.  As reported by the NY Times:
The ad, for the new NBC show “Southland,” was written and designed to look like a news article, chronicling the “Southland” protagonist’s patrol in Los Angeles. The promotion ran on the lower half of the paper’s left column, with the headline, “Southland’s Rookie Hero.” Forming an L, a horizontal ad for the show ran across the bottom of the page. The top of the column was labeled “Advertisement,” and included NBC’s peacock logo.

It is the first time the newspaper has run a mock news column on its front page as an ad, although the paper has been running front-page ads since 2007.
First, let's get the obvious joke out of the way:  Some would say the newspaper has been running mock news columns on its front page for years!  (Rimshot!)  But more seriously:

Maybe the real problem is that it made a little too explicit the relationship between editorial and the business community.  After all, how many stories in any given edition of a newspaper are spurred by a press release or a "pitch" from some agent or lobbyist?  You may not see them on the front page, but try the lifestyle, entertainment and other back-of-the-paper" sections.

If integrity and credibility are the issue, then I wish the newspaper people who are in a tizzy over this pretty blatant and innocuous "fake news" were as concerned about the bias too often displayed by their reporters.

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