Horrified by what they see as a deceptive blurring of the line between paid advertising and news stories, some 100 employees at the paper have signed a petition to Publisher Eddy Hartenstein “strenuously” objecting.
“This place already had horrible morale problems with decimating layoffs, but now to have our publisher whore out the front page is more than we can stand,” one editorial staff member told Reuters. “It blurs the line between paid content and content that our reporters are producing.”
The ad, which runs down the left column of the front page, is for the new NBC police drama “Southland.” It’s topped with the headline: ”Southland’s Rookie Hero,” followed by the sub-head “A ride-along on an officer’s first day.”
The ad is surrounded by a black border and has the NBC logo and word “advertisement” above it, but resembles a news story. Along the bottom of the front page is a more conventional, banner-style ad for the show, announcing that it premieres tonight.