Patterico's Pontifications


Front Page “News”

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 5:23 pm

You probably heard that the L.A. Times ran a front-page ad disguised as a news story.

Again, that is.

Satirist Roy Rivenburg has the definitive comment:

Although advertorials are typically frowned upon by journalists, not a single person in the L.A. Times newsroom objected, according to today’s article. [Publisher Eddy] Hartenstein said he wasn’t surprised: “Why would they raise a fuss? We’ve been running advertisement-stories for Obama for months and nobody complained about that.”

Heh. Well, nobody in the newsroom, that is.

78 Responses to “Front Page “News””

  1. Too Funny!
    The comments should be read on-stage with a band so that they could each be followed with the appropriate rim-shot.
    Good-bye LAT!
    You were great,

    AD - RtR/OS (f5b734)

  2. Soon they will be running ads for used desks, chairs and computer monitors on the front page.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  3. Apparently nobody reads this dead, bankrupt rag except the people who like to remind people it’s a dead, bankrupt rag not worth reading.

    Stop granting it unearned attention and cease perusing its pages already!

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  4. I wonder what the Chandler family thinks about all this.

    Dmac (49b16c)

  5. Placing a fake news article on A-1 makes a mockery of our integrity and our journalistic standards.

    A man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a Heaven for?

    nk (5a2f98)

  6. …makes a mockery of our integrity and our journalistic standards.

    We will not be mocked! We are serious journalists! Take us seriously! Please.

    Dana (d08a3a)

  7. On what wings dare he aspire?
    What the hand dare seize the fire?

    nk (5a2f98)

  8. p.s. Welcome back, Patterico!

    Dana (d08a3a)

  9. Well, they’re about to drop the puck for the last home game of the regular season in Anaheim, so I’ll take this opportunity to hope that everyone had a pleasant Good Friday, and that you can stay away from any rotten eggs on Easter (the occassional “rotten egg” here on the blog is something else again).
    Take Care, All.

    AD - RtR/OS (f5b734)

  10. I already found myself agreeing with Juggy (and even big-mouth Biden) saying nothing about the pirate nuisance (no, it’s not a crisis) off Somalia and letting the professionals handle it, and now I’m coming around to thinking whether he’s not been doing the right thing treating the press like dirt under his feet.

    nk (5a2f98)

  11. Does DSCRAP ever tire of being a mendoucheous asshat?

    JD (1ec03c)

  12. Their news stories/ads that they did for Barcky were different. Barcky did not pay for them. They were gifts in-kind, though never reported to the FEC. Did they ever release that video with Khalidi?

    JD (1ec03c)

  13. It was probably the most-read article on page 1.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  14. As a resident of Iowa, I was curious how much the LA Times paid you to read its infomercials. Are you required to fill out any paperwork indicating you’ve read their daily promotions? How do they compensate you for your time? In the event you want actual local news, do you get that on the TV or the Internet?

    Thanks –

    Hatless Hessian
    Redneck County, Iowa

    HatlessHessian (cca288)

  15. I know why they did it: To survive. And it’s really too bad. It was a once great paper and now it’s having to sell it’s front page to a losing network.

    Nonetheless, in the history of newspapers, it has been done before. It won’t rescue the LA Times, but at least it’s wearing a capitalist heart on its sleeve.

    Ag80 (d205da)

  16. If readers knew the history behind some of the seamy sales scum passing as execs hired by the Los Angeles Times over the past few years, they’d understand how these cheap, cheezy pieces have managed to make their way to the front page. There’s one exec who waddled past a busy newsroom at another pub she butchered, waved her paw past them and croaked to an editor, “You know, my sales department pays for all this.”

    When that mind set is running your newspaper, it’s gonna run it into the ground.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  17. “You know, my sales department pays for all this.”

    She was right. Had she added that, “It would be helpful if you stopped insulting the intelligence of half the population”, she might have saved the paper.

    Chris (a24890)

  18. #17- Yes, if readers subscribed to read ads and advertorials. When your paper becomes chiefly ads dipped in press releases sprinkled with wire copy, get cable or just surf the web.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  19. The front-page advertorial was indeed cheesy and deceptive. But even as a fellow journalist, I can’t help snickering when reading the holier-than-thou protests by its news staff. They’re still in denial about how little credibility they have. They blame all those crazy conservatives, when they should be pointing at the mirror.

    Make Roy Rivenburg editor and the LA Times might have a chance.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  20. #19- Too late. Perfect storm. It’s bankrupt in an era of transition. Nobody under 35 or 40 has much use for a newspaper in its present incarnation.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  21. 100 years ago, the Times had many ads on the front page, daily.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  22. definition of ‘journalistic standards’: not having it rubbed in your face that an issue with advertising on the front page brings in more money than an issue with just news content on the front page.

    steve sturm (3811cf)

  23. The Los Angeles Times should run their horoscope on the front page. At least it’s not advertising masquerading as news.

    Official Internet Data Office (7d4e4c)

  24. What Sam Zell said about sales vs. editorial is instructive.

    They should be able to do puppies and Iraq.

    carlitos (92022c)

  25. should run their horoscope on the front page.

    Speaking of which, they ran Sydney Omar’s horoscopes for a number of years – after he died. Too funny.

    Dmac (49b16c)

  26. Carlitos, there was another pirated vid of Zell addressing the troops shortly after he bought Tribco., and he almost lost it after similarly inane questions from his esteemed reportage – he mentioned something along the lines of “I’m trying to get your attention, ladies and gentlemen, because your business is failing!.” It was like watching a dog teach a fish to ride a bicycle.

    Dmac (49b16c)

  27. Does DSCRAP ever tire of being a mendoucheous asshat?

    Obviously not.

    Old Coot (27af0c)

  28. carlitos,
    Zell may be a real estate genius, but he has nothing to offer newspapers. Zell has brought in know-nothing clowns like Lee Abrams, a witless self-parody who sends out MINDLESS, RAMBLING MEMOS with lots of RANDOM ALL CAPS:

    News and Information has been around since the dawn of Man, but it’s a lot like where music was in 1952: Poised for a dynamic breakthrough that re-invest the media. The NEW Rock n Roll isn’t about Elvis or James Dean, but it IS about re-inventing media with the exact same moxie that the fathers of Rock n Roll had. The Tribune has the choice of doing to News/Information/Entertainment what Rock n Roll did to music…to be the Ray Charles, Dylan’s, Beatles and U2’s of the Information age…or have someone else figure it out, or worse, let these American institutions disappear into irrelevancy. I think Rock n Roll is the best choice. America needs a heartbeat, and we can deliver that on 21st Century terms. Rock n Roll musically is behind us. NEWS & INFORMATION IS THE NEW ROCK N ROLL

    I wouldn’t like to be a reporter at the LA Times, with such a clueless idiot pestering me with these Dilberteque directives.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  29. We’ve been running advertisement-stories for Obama for months and nobody complained about that.”

    The paper’s owner, Sam Zell, whose politics apparently are not of the left — since he has previously criticized papers for being too biased (I believe he doesn’t care for both Hillary and Barack) — might have made such a sarcastic remark. But his candor in one area is offset by his ineptitude in running a group of newspapers.

    Zell should have stuck to investing in real estate.

    Mark (411533)

  30. Zell should have stuck to investing in real estate.
    Comment by Mark — 4/11/2009 @ 10:34 am

    By buying TribCo, that is exactly what he was doing.

    AD - RtR/OS (2b04d5)

  31. Bradley,

    Thanks for the perspective. I have previously worked for a company where an “outside” CEO with no industry experience was brought in. In my case, he never figured it out and nearly ran the company into the ground. I will keep an open mind on Mr. Zell, but your example isn’t encouraging.

    All that said, his point to the reporter was valid – I want to make enough money to pay you reporters. Especially when those reporters appear to hold the reader in such contempt, even as their industry tanks.

    carlitos (92022c)

  32. “Welcome back, Patterico!”

    Thanks, but I’m not back. This was just a cameo appearance.

    I’m enjoying Karl’s posts, though. Dunphy’s too.

    Patterico (cf987a)

  33. “But his candor in one area is offset by his ineptitude in running a group of newspapers.”

    Mark – He hasn’t had his hands on them that long to make an impact one way or another in my view. He won the bidding war in April 2007 but the deal didn’t close until that December. The newspapers were already trending downhill and with the economy sliding and financing becoming unavailable to a lot of companies he hasn’t been able to complete some of the asset sales he had planned. Helmet head Blago was holding him up on the Cubs. He filed Chapter 11 inside of a year, not much time to demonstate a turnaround. YMMV.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  34. Patterico’s just teasing people with his presence in the comments.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  35. ^ But I understand Zell, not all that long ago, was resisting the idea of selling the newspapers, particularly the Los Angeles Times he got in the deal with the Tribune Co. He apparently believed that holding on to all the junk he took control of (the newspapers in particular) was key to his creating a successful media empire. Seems to me he should have hustled to sell not just the Cubs but every other part of the Tribune Co that was destined to hit the skids.

    Mark (411533)

  36. The wall between editorial and ad sales has been soundly breached at the LAT. Sad. The end can be measured in months, not years.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  37. … to say nothing of the wall between editorial and reporting, which came tumbling down a long time ago.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  38. “Seems to me he should have hustled to sell not just the Cubs but every other part of the Tribune Co that was destined to hit the skids.”

    Mark – I believe he was trying to sell Newsday and the Cubs. I’m not sure what else. I haven’t followed it that closely, but remember it was pretty tough for buyers to get financing for significant acquisitions from September on last year.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  39. “The wall between editorial and ad sales has been soundly breached at the LAT.”

    ASPCA – No different than at most liberal newspapers you twunt.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  40. Mark – He hasn’t had his hands on them that long to make an impact one way or another in my view.

    Unfortunately, that’s not quite right. Newspapers don’t have much time. Zell needed to impart not only a sense of urgency, but clear instructions on what to do. Instead, Zell has squandered his time with pointless squabbles and demoralized his staff with frivolous cretins like Lee Abrams. Zell is so out of his depth in journalism he gets taken by the most egregious fakers.

    If I were Zell . . .

    I’d have made factual accuracy and prompt correction of errors the LAT’s first priority.

    I’d have removed the apparatchiks like the so-called Readers’ Representative, and replaced them with people who actually cared about correcting errors and holding reporters accountable. Patterico has documented his frustrating experience trying to get corrections through the paper, and things don’t appear to have changed much under Zell.

    I’d fire the parasites like Tim Rutten who get paid to push out their ill-informed leftist biases. I’d solicit more opinion columns from LA and California-based writers, and fewer from the Eastern Establishment.

    I’d encourage reporters to openly disclose their political views, party affiliation, and so forth, so readers are informed up-front about where they’re coming from. This could be done by posting a bio for every reporter and editor.

    I’d tell Michael Hiltzik to focus on reporting on business and stop propagandizing his anti-business political views, or to find a new job.

    I’d require reporters to respond to criticism as part of their routine job requirements.

    These steps alone wouldn’t save the LAT,but they are an absolutely necessary prerequisite to rebuilding trust.

    Hugh Hewitt had much more in this vein, along with some excellent technological suggestions.

    So far, Zell has done none of them.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  41. Expect more and more of these advertorials. A current key exec behind the genesis of these gems built a career poisoning pubs by pimping this kind of profitable sludge under the guise of ‘journalism.’ Wait until the content morpfs into blantant holdup pieces. “We’re doing a ‘special section’ on you and your business. Buy some ads around it… or else.” The only person who can stop it is the publisher, but the publisher has to be a newsman, not a developer. But then, it’s hard to slaughter a cash cow.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  42. Brother Bradley has shown us what he thinks are the neccessary prerequisites for the salvaging of the LAT (and print journalism in general), and it is an impressive list of goals for someone who cares what happens to modern journalism.
    Unfortunately, Bradley is saved from having to relocate to Spring Street, in that the only reason Zell would want to keep the publications contained within the Trib Empire functioning, is to pay the bills until the RE market recovers enough to sell the real assets that he bought the company to acquire.
    I am reminded of when the minority stock-holders in the L.A.Rams opened Riverside Raceway: They did so to pay the property taxes until the land actually became valuable enough to do something real with it – it only took 40-years, and today it is just another commercial developement.
    When the commercial real-estate market recovers, the Tribune assets will slowly be sold off, and Newsday, LAT, ChiTribune, and other print media owned by him will disappear.

    AD - RtR/OS (2b04d5)

  43. But then, it’s hard to slaughter a cash cow.

    I know about advertorials all too well, from a previous job.

    The LA Times’ problem is that the cash cow is dying. It needs a veterinarian, but it’s in the hands of a butcher.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  44. #43- Precisely. The paper is already dead. When the time is right, he’ll cut up the corpse and sell off the organs.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  45. the publisher has to be a newsman


    carlitos (92022c)

  46. Hey, just saw Dunphy’s latest.

    This place is better when I’m gone.

    Patterico (1bb1a0)

  47. “Unfortunately, that’s not quite right. Newspapers don’t have much time.”

    Bradley – I’ve never been in the newspaper business so I can’t dispute your judgement. I don’t understand why readers and advertisers would react on a dime to purported changes, though, rather than waiting to be convinced through word of mouth, statistics, etc., which does not happen overnight. What can happen almost overnight is changes to the cost structure of businesses and that is something for which Zell is famous.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  48. I haven’t reacted “on a dime” and cancelled my subscription, despite not having been able to find the editorial page in the Chicago Tribune … for about 5 months. Since the redesign, I literally can’t find it. I used to open it right after sports. Now I just read opinion online.

    carlitos (92022c)

  49. When the front page of your newspaper, the premium position for important news of the day, is breached and prostituted by not only ads but advertorials, it’s done. They might as well wrap it in fishnets and just peddle it on street corners.

    In the case of the LAT, it has little to do with political persuasion, editorial slant or the caliber of the reporting staff. Look to the executive offices and the key sales staff for sinking this ship. They’re running the pub, not the newsroom. The publisher has decided to let the sales staff steer. It’s like piloting a vessel from the engine room.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  50. Patterico – I think somebody was holding a fire sale on socks while you were on vacation. Some interesting personalities dhowed up to visit.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  51. Comment by DCSCA — 4/11/2009 @ 12:47 pm

    Dude – Thanks for repeating essentially the same comment three or four times. You bring a lot of value to this blog!

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  52. #52- Advertising 101. Repeat the message until it sinks in. Glad you finally got it.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  53. I believe he was trying to sell Newsday and the Cubs.

    I almost forgot about Newsday. I do recall, however, that after Zell took over the Tribune Co there was some speculation his goal was to immediately or eventually sell off all its parts. But he was quoted on more than a few occasions as saying that was not his intent.

    I suspect both his ego and need to be a dilettante have wedded him to the notion he can create and rule over a media empire, to be Rupert Murdoch II.

    I’d fire the parasites like Tim Rutten who get paid to push out their ill-informed leftist biases.

    I obviously don’t care for the one-sided-liberal politics of writers like that, but I could tolerate them if they were balanced by columnists of the opposite stripe appearing on or at least somewhere near the same page.

    For instance, the LA Times official political analyst out of Sacramento (columnist George Skelton), and the official feature writer out of LA (columnist Steve Lopez) all skew left. Therefore, if I had my way, the newspaper also would run columnists from the right as regularly as the ones from the left.

    The paper might end up looking ideologically schizoid, but since our modern culture is tied to the need for (or mandates) diversity (or “diversity”), such a cacophony of views would be quite appropriate.

    I am reminded of when the minority stock-holders in the L.A. Rams opened Riverside Raceway:

    Zell makes me think of a New-York-based tycoon who bought out an ailing major retailer a few years ago. The investment community speculated the buyer’s real intent was to close down all the stores acquired in that transaction and take advantage of the value of the land they were located on, particularly the one in Manhattan. That likely would have made more sense at the time–particularly since consumers now have created this current slump.

    But the guy apparently found the world of real estate to be too dull or tried-and-true and thought it would be more compelling if he instead become a magnate in the world of retail.

    So as in the case with Zell, a tycoon involved in a buyout would have been better off following the assumptions of various analysts, even though their assumptions did gravitate to a cynical, pick-the-bones-apart approach to such transactions.

    Mark (411533)

  54. ASPCA, your point was weak the first few times you made it. Repetition did not make it any stronger.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  55. Speaking of newspapers, I thought the following comments from a well-known celebrity (of the left) were interesting.

    I have to give the guy some leeway for not wearing the biggest blinders possible for an icon of the liberal intelligencia (ie, the NY Times). Not to mention, the guy also writes in the same column: I am a fan of Keith [Olbermann]… But he wastes too much time pissing on Bush and his deposed cronies.)

    However, Baldwin does say that he’s gotten back into the habit of buying a newspaper (the NY Times, natch) — apparently partly out of sympathy for and as a sign of solidarity towards the print media — instead of just relying on the Internet or, far less happily, cable and network TV for information., Alec Baldwin:

    For many years, I was a devoted reader of the New York Times. An unusually devoted one.

    I picked up the paper every day, back when many places ran out of the Times, and rather quickly, by late morning. I carried it with me everywhere, as so many other New Yorkers seemed to.

    When the Jayson Blair story erupted, I realized that if the Times couldn’t even properly and effectively assess their own, how could they be relied upon to assess public officials and figures? It was then that I stopped buying the paper. A lot of people did. In Manhattan, copies of the New York Times often pile up everywhere.

    Mark (411533)

  56. Mark – I think you might be misreading Zell. He’s about making money not trying to be a dilettante and stamping his name on a media empire to get his points of view across, IMHO. He has done industrial deals in the past, not just real estate. One of the times I was in a meeting with him he offered his now deceased longtime partner Bob Lurie a ride on the back of his motorcycle to the Board meeting they were both attending shortly. Lurie declined.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  57. Until contradicted with some substance behind it, my opinion remains that the entire Tribune Cos deal was for the real-estate, and when commercial RE recovers along with the financing for same, the entire thing will be dismantled.
    The real value in Tribune Cos is the RE, and the broadcast media; the print media, not so much.

    AD - RtR/OS (2b04d5)

  58. I don’t understand why readers and advertisers would react on a dime to purported changes, though, rather than waiting to be convinced through word of mouth, statistics, etc., which does not happen overnight.

    Zell has had two years since his offer was accepted. That’s far from overnight.

    Granted, the deal didn’t formally close until December, 2007, but that means Zell had plenty of time in the interim to plan what to do and who would execute his instructions. Zell never really tried to fix the LAT’s credibility problem. Instead, Zell relied on brainless wonders from Clear Channel, another fading former media giant.

    Zell had his chance, he blew it, and now there’s no time to recover.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  59. The real value in Tribune Cos is the RE, and the broadcast media; the print media, not so much.

    All too true. But commercial real estate won’t recover for years. It’s going fall even more this year.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  60. Yes, but Zell is well – known for making his bones on pure real estate vulture deals – you look at his history, he’s usually been a buyer of distressed properties when no one else was even remotely interested in them, and then holding on through the trough until he can sell for a hefty multiple of what he originally paid. I agree with AD – this was always primarily a real estate play, and the refugee numbskulls at Clear Channel (the company is tanking, btw – and not just because of the economy) was just another indication of his lack of seriousness about the print properties.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  61. Dmac,
    Yes, and Zell limited his personal exposure to some $300 million or so.

    Had he been serious about the journalism, Zell could have brought in a certain very talented former radio type/former Aspen resident who conveniently lives in his home town.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  62. Having lived in Aspen for a couple of years, I honestly have not one clue as to whom you’re referring to, and that’s including about eight years in radio here during the 80’s. How embarrassing.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  63. #47 Patterico:

    This place is better when I’m gone.

    Your standins are doing yeoman’s work for certain…

    But it just ain’t the same without you, Boss.

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  64. “You abandon the conceit that ‘newspapers’ equals ‘news,’ you realize that people have far more information available to them about current events than ever before, and that’s a great thing for both journalism (the gathering of news) and the public.”

    Reality bites for the LAT.

    Dana (d08a3a)

  65. What I have difficulty believing is how far in denial many journalists are. Some still accusing Google of “stealing” content, although Google sends readers to news sites, and pays millions to the Associated Press in a licensing agreement. (And of course, the AP regularly “steals” from blogs without permission.) Mean Dean Singleton, chair of the AP, gave such a denialist speech this week.

    Here’s how bad the denial has gotten: One journalist on Romenesko proposed that newspapers shut down their Web sites, and instead email subscribers a copy-restricted PDF, limited to being read on one computer by “isomorphic software”, although readers could print it out. Tracking technology would be used to make sure no more than one person can use the subscription.


    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  66. The advertorial mess at the LAT can be traced to the sales group. Hire execs from a trade pub and you get trade pub ethics poisoning a consumer rag. End of story.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  67. I lost track. Is that five or six now?

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  68. #69- Psycho, if you were a journalist, there’s a story there for ya.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  69. Perseveration:

    Uncontrollable repetition of a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus, usually caused by brain injury or other organic disorder.

    nk (3106e7)

  70. #71- Ah, brain injury and organic disorder. That explains the GOPs repeated and reflexive use of the term, ‘NO!’ to everything since January 20, 2009. Thanks for clarifying.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  71. It is perfectably acceptable to say no to overbearing weenies, nanny-statism, and oppressive liberalism.

    Are DCRAP and Teh Narrative related?

    JD (07e55f)

  72. “Granted, the deal didn’t formally close until December, 2007”

    Bradley – That is the point. Did the Clear Channel people you reference leave their jobs, if they were employed, prior to the deal closing? Was Zell able to begin effecting any changes prior to the deal closing? The company filed for bankruptcy in December 2008. Deal losing to bankruptcy was 12 months. Those are the bookend dates, not two years.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  73. “isomorphic software”

    How long until someone renames it I so moronic software?

    Oh, that was quick.

    allan (4aa940)

  74. We’ve got the trifecta tonight:
    The Storyteller, Duckcrap, & VEVian.
    What did we do to desearve this?

    AD - RtR/OS (2b04d5)

  75. We just need horace, Peter, harpy, and timmah to join in. Add in TMJ and alphtard/sniffles/et al and it would be complete.

    JD (cb9226)

  76. If my foot has already been amputated does shooting it cause any “incalculable damage”? What if half my house has burned down and I vandalize the other half? Can it really be said that I’ve caused damage?

    I respect the objections raised in the LAT newsroom in principle, but the fact is that its been nearly a decade since the LAT has been in a position that a story like this would be capable of causing damage.

    Batt Moon (f61f16)

  77. […] The paper ran an advertisement disguised as a front-page story. Funnyman Roy Rivenburg mocked editors. […]

    Patterico's Pontifications » Patterico’s Los Angeles Dog Trainer Year in Review 2009 (e4ab32)

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