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April 10, 2009, 7:25 a.m.

Forget bad journalism. The LAT front page ad is bad advertising

Almost all of the hand-wringing about this week’s front-page Los Angeles Times ad has been focused on journalists, and how hard this is for them to swallow.

“There is not an editor in this nation — including me — who really wants to see something like that on the front page of his or her publication,” (Russ) Stanton said.

Stipulated. And yet, this misses an important point: This may be bad journalism, but it’s even worse advertising. Good advertising doesn’t try to trick the viewer by pretending to be something it’s not.

The LAT ad is the print equivalent of a Windows-shaped pop-up banner that warns you that your operating system may be infected with a virus. It may get your attention, but it succeeds only in annoying you once you realize it’s just trying to fool you.

It would seem the Los Angeles Times paid no attention this week when Google’s CEO warned them and the rest of the newspaper industry not to piss off their customers:

“I would encourage everybody when they think about — in all the rhetoric, all the concern about this or that — think in terms of what your reader wants. Try to figure out how to solve their problem. These are ultimately consumer businesses and if you piss off enough of them, you will not have any more, right”

Yes, management of the Los Angeles Times should be smacked, but not for the reasons already cited around the web. They should be smacked because they sold an ad that pisses off both their readers and NBC’s snookered targets, all while making a major U.S. newspaper look as desperate as Mister Haney trying to scam a few dollars from the citizens of Hooterville.

POSTED     April 10, 2009, 7:25 a.m.
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