Readers' Representative Journal

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Reaction to the front-page ad [Updated]

April 9, 2009 |  6:02 pm

Updated, 11 a.m. Friday: The number of e-mails received on the subject has exceeded 80.


More than 30 e-mails have been received in reaction to the front-page advertisement -- written as if it were  a news story -- in  today's  Los Angeles Times. The word "advertisement" appeared under the NBC logo, but readers wrote angry  notes. In addition to e-mails, some two dozen readers have called with similar sentiments.  Here are some excerpts:

Los-angeles-times-a1-april9-2009 Are you kidding me? When will those who run our paper stop insulting their readers' intelligence and our commitment to its survival? Seeing that front page ad was not shocking. If you want to sell advertising on the front page -- great, do it! But trying to spin it as a story? Where are the journalistic standards?

This paper has slowly withered in size and might and insight. Great columnists are gone and the ones remaining write their columns with such fear of their own futures that I feel such empathy.

Clearly "out of the box" thinking is important to the survival of the newspaper, but creative thinking that does not harm the paper's reputation. Unfortunately, I think this ship sailed a while back.

One step closer to canceling the subscription ... and there aren't many steps left.

What a way to alienate those few remaining loyalists.

Joey Shanley

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The ongoing deterioration of a once-great newspaper reached a new low this morning. Unbelievable!

Peter F. McAndrews
Santa Monica

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I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the Times' front page on Thursday, April 9. There must have been nearly 20% of the front page dedicated to advertising! It is sad to see a fine newspaper stoop to such lows, and I hope this doesn't continue.

David Holmes
Buena Park

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I am completely outraged that the L.A. Times, formerly one of the premier newspapers of the world, would finally be brought down so low as to accept advertising on a significant portion of its front page. I hope the Tribune Co. got a ton of money for this vile  and image-destroying move -- they will need it as the Times loses still more circulation. I am not going to continue my subscription, as there appears to be less and less room for information, and more  and more for infomercials.

Suzanne Schechter

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Today's issue shows just how low the L.A. Times has sunk!  A very amateurish appearing ad on the front page!  The Times has proven itself to no longer be a newspaper but a shill for whatever company pays the most. I might as well switch my subscription to the Daily News.

R. L. Giannangeli
North Hollywood


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Every time I think this paper can't get any worse, I'm unpleasantly surprised. The massive ad taking up valuable column space on the front page of Thursday's paper has finally convinced me to cancel my subscription. The L.A. Times has gotten so pathetic, I'm forced to get my news elsewhere.

Elizabeth Babor
La Crescenta

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I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I literally learned to read my first words from your paper.  But the great glory days are gone. It was one thing to have ads on the bottom of the front page, which are now larger than the actual headlines. But to show a faux news item ...

... on your lower left side marked a new low. The line between real news and commercials have blurred to a point that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to differentiate the two in future editions.

My suggestion is why just have commercials disguised as faux news articles on the front page? Why not incorporate actual product placement, as movies and TV shows are doing into your real stories? Money is money, right? At any cost, including any credibility that you may still have.

A few suggestions from today’s headlines. On the story of the Monk, you can rewrite it as: “His Frangellica™ Spirit Won’t Be Confined.” For your story of patients being thrown back into Skid Row, why not: “Facility Accused of Dropping 150 Homeless Patients Off in Brand New Chevy Tahoes™ in Skid Row,” and for the kidnapped captain, you can make some bucks from Disney by changing it to: “U.S. Captain Being Held by Pirates of the Caribbean ™ Types!”

You’ve lost all integrity at this point… so why not “go for the gold”?

Tom Greene

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I don't know what you guys think you're gaining by running an ad for a TV show on your front page masquerading as a legitimate news story.  Stop trying all these tricks!  If you want to save costs and raise revenue go back to being a newspaper that hires more reporters to write better stories, take your online site down so readers have to buy a paper if they want to read your stories, and STOP PRINTING IN COLOR!  You're wasting a lot of money on printing costs when you add four-color process instead of sticking with black ink.

Get back to basics and start over.

Joseph Neri
West Covina

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I am a firm believer in print journalism.  In my opinion the Los Angeles Times has always been an exemplary newspaper, and I have valued my subscription over the years.  However, recently the paper has deteriorated -- it is no longer an example of what a fine newspaper should be; it has been systematically gutted of section after section, feature after feature.  Although I gave up in despair when the Sunday paper turned into little more than advertising (with sections of the paper strategically hidden within the pages of ads, so Sundays became a kind of "treasure hunt" to find the news!) and sections of the paper were eliminated, I have steadfastly held on to my weekday subscription -- partially out of loyalty, partially out of habit, as I do love the ritual of picking up the paper from my front porch, spreading it out on my breakfast table, and leisurely moving through it.

Today, however, was the last straw:  on the front page of the paper was an advertisement!  Column left; half a page!  I fear the daily paper, too, will go the way of Sunday's edition!  When I complained, your representative told me it was a "wonderful advertising opportunity" for The Times.

You are a NEWSPAPER, for God's sake, not an advertising throwaway!  You mean there was no news that was fit to print?  Unfortunately, and with great regret, I have canceled my subscription.

Carolyn S. Estrada
Signal Hill

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What a horrendous concoction your weird, dog-leg front page advertisement is today -- from NBC, no less! You really must pass these layout abominations by your Art Director next time! I know times are tough, but must we make front pages as UGLY as this? Do hard times require the total abandonment of good design?

George Delmerico
Santa Barbara

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You're skating on thin ice, L.A. Times. Over the past several years,  you've gutted the newsroom; you've nixed cherished, long-standing columnists in favor of bush-league replacements; you've merged all 
local coverage from sections such as the Orange County section into a single California section, and then axed the California section  altogether; and now you've placed an ad on the front page designed to 
look like editorial content. How low will you go?

In fewer than 10 years, cynical ownership and revolving-door leadership have taken what was a great metro daily newspaper and  turned it into a pathetic shadow of its former robust self. I honestly used to be proud to subscribe to the L.A. Times, but now I'm faced with a new disappointment nearly every edition. I've been telling myself  that I won't cancel my subscription because I want to bring my  children up in a household with a daily paper, but exactly what kind  of paper am I left with to show them why print journalism is so  important?

David Kopf

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I opened my L.A. Times this morning and was shocked and embarrassed when I saw two advertisements on your front page. As a former university journalist, editor and Times' subscriber for more than 40 years, I can tell you that your attempt to "corral" these ads with a thick black line did little to disguise the fact that you sold your journalistic soul to advertisers. If it's a one-time thing, it was very poor judgment. If it continues, shame on you.

Christine Shade
North Hollywood

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By placing an advertisement on your front page in such a way to "mimic" news is a disgrace to everything the Los Angeles Times used to stand for.

Joseph Dickson
San Dimas

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Commercial advertising all over the front page of your newspaper! This could be the last straw. Expect our cancellation notice shortly.

Michael Miller
Los Angeles

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As a purist I'd finally come to gruff acceptance of the small, 2-inch tall banner ads along the foot of the front page, and the annoying pseudo-Post Its in the top left corner.

But today's front page takes the cake. An ad for the series "Southland" that not only runs along the bottom, but makes an unprecedented foray into sacred editorial ground by extending into the full below-the-fold left hand column.

As the attorney Joseph Welch said to Sen. Joe McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings: "Have you no shame, Mr. Zell, have you no shame?"

Lewis S. Snow
La Crescenta

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While I understand you guys are under tremendous financial pressure to stay afloat, today's front-page faux news story (really an advertisement for NBC's new show "Southland") goes too far. For goodness sake, it's the front page, and your mock news story directly intrudes directly upon Column One!

If I wanted to subscribe to TV Guide, I would have subscribed to TV Guide.  By squandering this valuable journalistic real estate, you've now lost all (remaining) credibility as serious newspaper.

The end has come. Kindly, cancel my subscription effectively immediately.

Michael Bruce Abelson

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I'm writing to add to what I'm sure is a chorus of complaints regarding the "Southland" ad on today's front page. I've always been tolerant of, if not thrilled by, ads on A1, but this is shameful. No matter how big the "NBC advertisement" disclaimer, no matter how different the font, no matter how thick the rule surrounding the ad, it acts as a de facto story on the front page. Not only is it ugly, but it takes the place of a real news story from readers.

I'm a three-year subscriber and supporter of the L.A. Times. The only reason I haven't canceled my subscription over the massive, short-sighted layoffs is because I figure it will only punish the dedicated, talented members of the newsroom (and I can't wait to hear their reaction to this ad.) But today I wonder what the LAT's value proposition is anymore. No standalone California section, no standalone books section, a neutered opinion section, reduced coverage from all over, the fact that I have to read a paper owned by Sam Zell, and now one less story on A1 because NBC wants to run some schlocky ad: These are not things that a great, or even a very good, newspaper does.

Craig Gaines
Los Angeles

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Today, the Los Angeles Times lost its dignity ... and (after 43 years) a reader.

Jeff Prescott
La Jolla

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I know that the L.A. Times is hungry for every penny of revenue it can  get, but today's front-page NBC ad has gone over an ethical line. To  run an ad that is designed to (at least initially) trick your readers 
into thinking it is a genuine newspaper article cheapens your  newspaper. To run one on the formerly sacrosanct front page is only  making you look desperate and weak. Every move like this only reduces 
your status in the eyes of your readers.

Eric Taub
Westlake Village