LA Times Readers Pooh-Pooh About News Ethics, But Choke On Own Word-Vomit (Hypocrits)


(left: fake, more interesting front page; right: real, more important front page)

So the big brouhaha over in Orange Peel land is the LA Times’ decision to make life more interesting for its readers by publicly announcing its support for NBC with a giant faux front page, hawking the new L&O show.

Imaginary Scenario:
Reader
: Holy shit! Smashed glass and grisly crime scene tape! Boy is this gonna be one juicy read!
*quickly buys paper and rifles through it, looking for story of mass disorder and devastation*
LA Times: JUST KIDDING! Now here’s your daily dose of boredom with the real headline: Brown and Whitman go head to head. Innuendo absolutely intended. Get it? This is juicy too, no?

Due to a massive negative reaction, the Times then ran a reader response section on its website, highlighting scathing comments from readers, who felt conned into buying the newspaper. I understand the outrage, really. If I, as an unsubscribed news consumer, picked up the LA Times solely for that article—then yes, I’d feel betrayed and “punk’d” too. But I don’t think it’s really necessary for people who already subscribe to the paper to feel shammed over it.

Yes, it’s low.
Yes, the paper has earned the title of “brown noser.”
Yes, it’s desperate.

But did the paper reduce anything? Did it replace any important stories for this ad?
No.

So subscribers are essentially getting one extra newspaper page to use for house-training their dogs or something. If anyone has a right to be in an uproar, it should be the environmentalists.

And honestly, what does that say about the people who ONLY bought the paper for that story? Would they have even bought the paper for the real news? You know, the stuff that actually affects our lives?

One reader wrote:

“Let me be one of the first to express my total support for ad revenue any way you can get it, including selling a cover of your front page, presumably for an unusually large sum of money. I hope all Times readers realize the financial pressures on all print media today and, like me, hope the day never comes when we have to get our Times on a digital reader.”

While “support ad revenue any way you can get” sounds a little too ambitious and sneaky, I think what most people are forgetting here is that not only is the print medium about to drown, but the LA Times is a member of the Tribune family, which is currently entangled in a two-year bankruptcy litigation.

Can you blame a brotha’ for being desperate??

What this incident proves is that obviously selling an ad spot that takes up the entire front page, an ad that happens to look identical to a real front page, is a big mistake. It’s a mistake that got people to buy the paper, but at the cost of the paper’s integrity. According to the outraged.

But what gets me even more than the upset of people who bought the paper only for the more interesting article is that this isn’t the first time the LA Times has run a full front page ad before!

The NYT wrote a little something about it back in March, and one quote from an LA Times reporter just about sums it all:

“People are worried about what it does with the brand, the paper’s name,” said one reporter who, like his colleagues, insisted on anonymity to speak critically of his employer. “On the other hand, it’s money that we badly need.”

Further Reading:
L.A. Times Replaces Front Page With Fake ‘Law & Order’ News; L.A. Times Readers Really Pissed

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