The real L.A. Times front page was inside. Many readers were dismayed by the marketing ploy.
"I think it's irresponsible journalism but if their goal is to just shock then they did their job," said reader Jesse Taylor.
A similar technique was used to promote the new King Kong ride on the front cover of the LATExtra section last July. USC Creative Media Professor Doe Mayer said the NBC ad went beyond that.
"I think they've said something by what they've done. I think their actions speak far louder than any words that they can say. They've said that the commercialism of this, the financial implications of this are more important than what journalism should mean in our society," said Mayer.
NBC Universal would not comment on the ad, but the Los Angeles Times released a statement calling it an "innovative" ad and a "creative way" to launch the new show for its home audience and plays on the show's "ripped from the headlines" verisimilitude.
The statement did not address how it reflected on the newspaper.