Will the Los Angeles Times ever learn? Or is it the newspaper-buying public who’s going to have to learn not to trust what they see on page one?
Today’s LAT is wrapped with an ad. I’m on the record as hating these things. They’re becoming so common, though, that they’re hardly news anymore.
This one, however, is more than just an ad wrap. It’s an advertisement masquerading as news — big news:
It’s not until you freak out over today’s front-page news and then you open the page that you see the real front page of today’s LAT:
Here’s what the inside of the wrap looks like when you pull out the live news section:
You may recall the Times ran something very much like this just three months ago, wrapped around its metro section. The gimmick was poorly received by the public and media observers. Even the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution imploring the Times…
…to stop selling advertising sections designed to resemble news sections, saying that the ads hurt the paperâ€™s credibility.
That was what the Times itself reported at the time.
The ad does, in fact, give readers a clue that this might not be a real front page. For example, notice the little red “Advertisement” label across the top:
Now, it’s there. And it’s in red. But just like last time, I’m not sure this is enough to tip readers off that they’re looking at an elaborate hoax.
The other clue, is a bit less subtle. It’s the torn-paper effect across the bottom half of the page, giving us the impression that there was a full-page ad around the front that somehow was partially torn away:
As much as I loathe this ad technique, I have to laugh at the little tag line at the lower right:
Ripped from the L.A. headlines.
Yes… Yes, it is.
Note the elaborate photoshop work on the faux news photo of the faux vandalism at NBC headquarters in Burbank:
And here’s a closeup of the deck and the top of the story at right:
The deck doesn’t even begin to fill out the space allotted to it, the story leading is all wrong and that lead is atrocious. Perhaps we should feel good about that.
Kevin Roderick of the LAObserved blog reports that the Times also ran a nice feature on this show today in its Calendar section:
I guess readers are getting used to the Times being the only big paper in the country to hawk its front page brand in this way.
Kevin’s point is a good one: Reaction seems to be awfully muted this time around.
About being the only paper, though: Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Dylan Stableford of the Wrap blog reports this same ad ran in the Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Baltimore Sun and the Orlando Sentinel.
Egads. This trend is spreading.
However, he goes on to say:
The New York Times ran [this same ad] as a stand-alone insert, labeled as the non-existent â€œLos Angeles Post.â€
Now, that doesn’t seem quite so bad. Spoofing the look and feel of news pages is a dangerous and unwise thing for our advertising departments to do.
But doing that and then wrapping it around page one? Journalistic suicide.
UPDATE: 5 p.m.
I broadcast via Twitter for folks to send me copies of any wrap-around ads today in those other four papers.
Only one reply so far, from Jason Schaumburg of the Daily Chronicle of DeKalb County, in the western suburbs of Chicago. Jason tells us:
My home-delivered Chicago Tribune today has no faux-news wrap.
Hmm. Interesting. Perhaps the other reports are in error. That would be a good thing.
Go here to read all about the July incident at the Los Angeles Times.