Readers weigh in on King Kong advertising section
Readers were surprised to see reports in Thursday’s LATExtra section of Universal Studios’ destruction. The cover story was labeled “advertisement,” and the section was lettered AD as opposed to AA, but those distinctions were missed by many readers, at least on first blush.
What appeared to be news was in fact advertising copy for Universal Studios’ new King Kong attraction. The four-page advertising section was topped by the LATExtra section flag, while the actual LATExtra news section appeared inside.
Many readers wrote to The Times to say they were unhappy about being misled.
“I was frightened as I started to read about Universal Studios. When I realized it was a hoax, I was furious. How could you be so irresponsible?” said Joan Richmond of Claremont.
“Your advertisement wrap on the Thursday LATExtra section was irresponsible. Trying to make an ad, especially one that discusses devastation, look like real news is horrible,” wrote Sam Giamendi of Los Angeles.
“The clever advertising hoax played with the trust your readers have developed over the years. Please don't toy with that trust again. What reader wants to be made to feel like a nincompoop because he or she believed what was on the front page of the L.A. Times?” asked Janet Weaver of Huntington Beach.
“Next time put the red ‘Advertisement’ notice at the top of the page in letters that can’t be missed, and do it on all the inside pages as well. What a lousy joke,” said Stan Greenfield of Woodland Hills.
And Bob Niccum of Buena Park wrote, “In the original ‘King Kong’ film, a promoter sought to make his fortune by bringing a monster into the city. But he didn't foresee the damage that the monster would cause. Point made.”
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors weighed in as well Thursday with a letter to Sam Zell, chairman of the Tribune Co., which owns The Times. “We urge The Times to stop selling its front pages to advertisers, especially in such an offensive and alarming manner,” the letter signed by all five supervisors said.
In an article in Friday’s LATExtra section, Times Publisher Eddy Hartenstein stood by the advertising section. “Our readers understand the ad-supported economic model of our business, which allows us to provide the outstanding journalism they rely upon 24/7.”
Photo: Thursday's advertising section, left, and the LATExtra news section.