LA Times sells front page ad, disguises it as news story

by editor on April 9, 2009

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Readers of the L.A. Times know the paper sometimes slants the news and other times reports it very selectively, but now they’re guilty of completely fraudulent news.

The front page of today’s Los Angeles Times features what appears to be a major feature story on a rookie LAPD cop named Ben Sherman. The story breathlessly reports his first day on the job.

Only one problem. Sherman doesn’t exist. He’s the lead character in a new NBC-TV program called “Southland” that premieres tonight. And the article isn’t really an article – it’s a paid advertisement.

The ad isn’t in the Times normal typeface and it’s subtly labeled as an “Advertisement.” But how many readers of the Times will notice the difference?

The Times has come under heavy criticism in the past for blurring the line between editorial and advertising. The decision to adorn the front page with a faux news story that can easily be confused for actual reportage will undoubtedly elicit howls of protest once again.

The Los Angeles Times. All the fiction that’s fit to print.


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All the News that’s Unfit to Print (but we’ll print it anyway).