To live and die in L.A.

The Los Angeles Times has no doubt vexed journalists and critics of newspapers alike today with its Southland front-page “advertorial” spread.

The paper not only placed an advertisement “article” profile of a Southland cop in what’s usually clearly reserved for the news hole, it’s part of a six-column ad that runs beneath the fold.

Given the desperate state of newspapers these days, the L.A. Times can hardly lose on this. Publishers are trying anything and everything, and largely getting a pass for doing so, to survive this period of upheaval. So when The L.A. Times played a little loose with mixing editorial and ad space (once upon a time, news space was sacrosanct, never to be confused with advertising — which newsroom types viewed with disdain and scarcely concealed [if concealed at all] contempt), the paper knew it would pretty much get away with this transgression.

Variety makes the point thusly: “For NBC, it’s a coup: Not only will several hundred thousand L.A. Times subscribers see an ad for ‘Southland,’ which comes from John Wells and Warner Bros. TV, when they pick up the paper Thursday morning, but the viral effect of putting this ad on the front page may resonate far beyond the actual paper readers.”

This could be another example of economic reality changing the rules of what is acceptable in the new media realm: The Front Page, presented by Sony Pictures. See Terminator XIV: Terminator Vs. Rambo in 3-D! At theaters starting tomorrow. And now, this exclusive interview with President Arnold Schwarzenegger.


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