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LAT front page NBC ad dismays readers

September 29, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Some readers of the Los Angeles Times might have done a double take Wednesday as what appeared to be the front page was actually an advertisement for a new TV show.The headline read, "Media Icon Hit by Crime Wave," accompanied by pictures of a vandalized NBC studios in Burbank and a local NBC news truck along with a sidebar telling of a grisly scene in a news van. Only at the very top in small letters did it alert readers that this was actually an advertisement for the new TV show, "Law and Order Los Angeles."

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.