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LA Times goes south.

IN A MOVE THAT DREW HEAVY CRITICISM about the blurring of editorial and advertising content, the Los Angeles Times in April ran two advertisements designed to look like articles--one on the front page.

The front page advertisement was for a new NBC show "Southland," which is centered on a police unit in Los Angeles. The advertisement--carrying the headline "Southland's Rookie Hero"--was written and designed to look like a news article, although it did carry the label "advertisement" and displayed NBC's logo. The advertisement was the first time the Los Angeles Times ever ran a mock news column on its front page, although it has been running front page advertisements since 2007.

The next day, the Sunday Calendar entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times contained a four-page advertisement for the movie "The Soloist," laid out to look like a news section. The section contained an interview with LA Times columnist Steve Lopez, who wrote the book on which the movie is based.

"You dress an ad up to look like editorial content precisely because you think it will make it more valuable," Geneva Overholser, director of the University of Southern California's school of journalism, told the New York Times. "Fundamentally, that's an act of deception."

The newspaper defended its move, saying both sections were clearly marked "advertisement" and that the editorial staff was not involved with writing the advertisements.

When the editorial staff was informed of plans for the front-page ad, about 100 employees signed a petition protesting the decision, according to Reuters.
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Title Annotation:COMMERCIAL ALERT; Los Angeles Times
Author:Wedekind, Jennifer
Publication:Multinational Monitor
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2009
Words:254
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