L.A. County Supervisors to ‘L.A. Times’: Knock Off the Fake Ad Sections!

By: E&P Staff

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has a message for the city’s biggest newspaper: Stop selling ad sections designed to look like news sections.

The board sent a letter to parent company Tribune Co. CEO Sam Zell the same day the Los Angeles Times published a four-page ad for Universal Studios that wrapped around LATExtra, the paper’s breaking-news section.

The advertisement promoted Universal Studios Hollywood’s new King Kong attraction. The “LATExtra” flag on the ad’s front page was nearly identical to one that appears on the daily news section, with the word “advertisement” in red just below the flag. The layout was designed to look like L.A. Times coverage of destruction caused by a giant rampaging ape.

All this was too much for the board, which in its missive calls upon the L.A. Times to “stop selling its front pages to advertisers, especially in such an offensive and alarming manner. The cost of this distasteful practice to the people of Los Angeles County is far greater than any short-term gains by the Tribune Company.”

The mock section, the board adds, “makes a mockery of the paper’s mission.”

Kevin Roderick’s Editor’s Blog at LA Observed has the full memo, here.

In the L.A. Times Friday, Publisher Eddy Hartenstein stood by the ad supplement, stating, “The Universal Studios Hollywood ad wrapping Thursday’s LATExtra section met our advertising guidelines, including a large, red ‘advertisement’ notification on top of the page. Our readers understand the ad-supported economic model of our business, which allows us to provide the outstanding journalism they rely upon 24/7.”

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