Monday, March 8, 2010

The News in Wonderland

Last week, the LA Times posted an advertisement on its front page which made it look like the ad and the front page news were combined into one. See it here. Some people feel the ad posed no problem and was just another way for a cash-strapped business to generate more money. Some feel it was professionally unethical. What is your opinion? Do you think it's OK for newspapers to sell large ads on its front page? If you had to say it was professionally unethical, what argument would you make?

24 comments:

Zack Harrington said...

I believe this could be a controversial debate, and I can understand both sides of the argument. For several years now, the newspapers have struggled to generate revenue. Many Americans use the internet or television to consume their news. Therefore, the newspapers have to find a way to get back on track, and from a revenue standpoint, this was good idea. The newspaper is ultimately attempting to compete with other sources of news coverage.

I can see how some would think this is unethical because advertising entertainment on the front page can overshadow the serious problems in which our world and country faces. A newspaper contains different sections for a reason; therefore this advertisement could have been provided elsewhere.

Melvin Hayes said...

I don’t feel that there is a problem putting an advertisement on the front page of the LA Times. We’re in a time where businesses have to do what they must in order to survive financially. The newspaper industry is already hurting not only due to people buying less newspapers in this economy, but also due to the rise in people’s interest in getting their news elsewhere. I think that many of the people who are crying foul are those who didn’t think of or wasn’t able to implement the idea first themselves. The sooner people realize that the goal of businesses is to generate a profit, the better they’ll understand that it’s all about survival of the fittest. You must be innovative and think outside of the box in desperate times. If a person is legitimately purchasing a newspaper to read the stories, then the advertisement on the front page of the paper should not prevent the consumer from getting the message. The text of the front page story or anywhere else in the newspaper is still the same.

Taryn Holland said...

Like Zach, I can see both sides of this argument. You have an advertisement that not only takes up a majority of the front page, but goes into the columns of the articles to the left and right of the picture. Health problem article on the left and Afghanistan article on the right, which to many might be big news that is important to them.

On the other hand, Melvin has a point. It is all about profit and survival of the fittest. Who is not trying to gain the most revenue. There was no major problem with this situation. Was the advertisement a distraction? If the articles are important, then a ad would not keep you from reading.

Hartman said...

I'm with the group that doesn't find this action as any sort of problem. If the ad didn't clearly appear to be an ad, I could understand someone arguing that the action was professionally unethical. Smaller ad spaces are already being sold on newspaper front pages. Newspapers are having to reinvent their business model in order to survive in today's mediated society. Some would even argue that this particular content IS news - a new version of Alice in Wonderland! I love the ad, myself.

If I did have to say that the ad was professionally unethical, I would argue for the integrity of the front page of a major U.S. newspaper. The business of newspapers is delivering important news to society, and above the fold of the front page is sacred territory. It is the duty of newspapers to serve the public.

E. McGraw said...

I feel that it is ok if newspaper wants to put the bigger ads on the front page. They use it as a way to get more and more people to buy these newspapers since, now there are alot more people using the internet for their news source. So I feel that this would be an way for them to sell more papers, if they put something on the front page that will catch everyone's attention.
If I would say that its unethical, I would say that you get what you pay for.

Anita Griffin said...

I think it’s okay for newspapers to sell large ads on the front page. Newspapers these days have to do whatever they can to make a profit. So many people these days use the internet to get their source of news. Our local paper here in town is posted on the internet and you can read the paper on line, which is why so many people do not purchase newspapers anymore, and why their sales are going down. The ad was not offensive to me in any way, so I do not see any problem with it. If people are truly interested in the news then they are going to buy the newspaper no matter what is on the front page.

Mary Catherine Carmichael said...

I personally think the ad was a great idea. It certainly accomplished the goal of getting ones attention. I have to agree with the majority here that with the economic situation of newspapers being like the rest of the world you have to to what you can to stay in the "black". It was a clever idea. I love it when they think outside the box. I think the people who don't like the idea are probably people who don't like change.

This is not exactly the same thing but I remember several years ago on April Fools Day they put a picture in the Starkville Daily New of the Humphrey Coliseum that looked like a plane had crashed into it. Many people didn't like. Made for a great joke.

Laura Chisolm said...

I think it is ok for newspapers to post an ad if they prefer on the front page but not on top of important issues. It is tacky and unprofessional over the articles. I see how they are trying to create buzz for the new movie. It makes the statement that the movie and money is more important than the issues in the articles. I think that the ad is too big or should have been on a different page not covering articles with important issues.

Tanya Mathews said...

People need to lighten up. An ad that obscures every story on the front page should not be taken seriously as anything more than an attention-grabber. After all, how much different is this than a story that turns out to be an April Fools' joke?

As to the idea of it somehow being wrong to sell ads on the front page, people should take a look back at some old newspapers. Advertisements on the front page used to be a commonplace, and only in the last few decades have people come to be the front page as sacred and valuable only as news space. The front page, just as any other part of the newspaper, is valuble only as space to generate revenue -- whether that revenue comes from advertising or high quality reporting and writing is immaterial.

Angela Doles said...

This ad could be the spark of many debates. A newspaper is bought advertising and news, so if a person doesn’t like the information in the paper they do not have to buy it. So if a company wants to pay for the front page ad that’s their business. Many newspaper companies are going out of business so any money or attention they can get is probably welcomed. Personally I don’t think putting that type of ad on the front page is professionally ethical. When I see the front page of a newspaper I think of the most important news, not ads for movies.

Many news magazines have cartoon faces of important political figures on the front page of the magazine and nobody has a problem with them. The pictures catch the reader’s eye and they become interested in the magazine and buy it. The newspaper front page caught the reader’s eye and the reader’s curiosity caused them to buy the paper. The paper, after all has to make a profit if it intends to remain in business. We all are guilty of becoming bored with the normal every day news, so something like this causes us to become interested and curious which results in buying the paper.

Alvin McKinley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alvin McKinley said...

My opinion is that the newspaper has the right to sell from page ad space. Why not? It is media after all. We live in a consumer driven society and media is both the cause and reflection of the consumerism society. It is the loop where the media studies what the consumer wants, then delivers it to the public, studies the reaction, and spits out the digested image into the masses again. I am constantly attacked by commercials on TV whenever I watch the news. If they can do it, then LA Times can do so as well.

I think the controversy here is the LA Times public image as an accountable source. I would guess many people will consider them sellouts to the big business which can reflect poorly on the reliability of the paper. In the situation where LA Times does not publish ads, it is difficult to determine how badly they were influenced by corporate America. And when LA Times solicits ads on its front page, someone would think that there is a possibility that the articles inside can be paid for. And that is a bias.

noelle carlin said...

I can understand both sides, one that sees that a newspaper should be just that, only news. However, from the business aspect of it that was GENIUS!! Advertisement pays for 3/4 of most newspapers, that’s why people can pay only a dollar and a half for a paper when in all reality if there was no advertisement it would cost someone close to 30 dollars a paper or so. If that movie wanted to promote that movie that was probably one of the smartest investments they have made, movies are advertised in papers all the time, near the classifieds where there are listings of show times and places.

From communications major side I think it was brilliant, and it does not bother me in the least, however I do see the controversy. Most think that the papers should be a non-bias only facts generating company, however how do those people think the paper companies make money!? There is a paper in California, note that it is a small town paper like the Clarke county tribune, when they started they did not put advertisement in it at all, and now guess what they are now going under. It’s not because of the economy, it’s because that was a bad call to make for a newspaper company. And as far as the question "If you had to say it was professionally unethical..." I wouldn’t say that at all. That is how the paper makes money, and keeps the readers, the movie is part of the news and so therefore it is telling about the news, just by advertising it on the front page. It is just like putting a big picture of a candidate for presidency on the front page, it was paid for by the campaign so that people could see him and know the name so if people just go vote and just innie-minnie pick the candidate, they will pick the one that looks most familiar; i.e. the one from the paper or the television it is the same concept.

Sandra Perkins said...

Personally, I don't see a problem with the overshadowing advertisement. The fact of the matter is the newspaper industry is on the decline and they have to make a profit somehow, but they have to make it ethically. The newspaper industry is competing with the internet and other forms of modern technology. I don't recall having any complaints when the Saints won the Superbowl. This event overshadowed EVERYTHING. I didn't hear anything or see anything except for "WHO DAT?" My point is - people are going to read what's important to them.

Lucky said...

I think the ad is okay. A newspaper is a business, and one of the ways they make money is by their advertisements. If a company can afford an ad on the first page, then way should they not be allowed to have that space?

I can see the argument for not having an ad on the front page. I like to read the paper, but most of the time, I only have time to I scam the front page for the most important stories. In this case, I would hate to have to look through the paper to find those stories. I paid for the paper; I want to read the stories, not look at the ads.

Brandy Stuart said...

I could understand both sides of this argument. However, I lean toward the newspaper side of it. The newspaper is adversiting. Here they are doing their job in both ways makeing money and the telling the story so to say. I also agree with some of the other students. The times are trying to sell the paper point blank. Should have they put it on the front page? This questionable. Its called eye catching for a reason. I really don't understand the fuss. They were just doing their job.

Paul Miller said...

I don’t see any problem with this advertisement. They are still a business and if you view ad space as real estate the front page is a prime location. Besides, the paper has to compete with more outlets for advertisement money.
The only way something like this would be bad is if they do this every issue. It would cheapen the paper. But if front page advertising is done sparingly, it’s no big deal.

Ken Holm said...

I do not believe there is an ethical issue with the advertisement as it is. Echoing some of my classmates, had the ad contained what looked to be "News", that could have caused an issue.

From a marketing perspective, for the LA Times, I can see where this might cause some issues. If this type of advertising is used rarely, I don't think it would affect their sales. However, if they start running front page, above the fold ads, I would expect their sales to go down. I don't know how many folks would be interested in buying "Ads".

Newspapers have trended toward less news and more ads for quite a while now. I personally have heard complaints about this. I don't know if the buying public is willing to put up with much more.

Sandy said...

In my opinion, the Wonderland advertisement was very creative and successful in creating buzz. This advertisement also created success for both Disney and the newspaper for monetary purposes. However, I believe that it was not very ethical. I believe it was an injustice to those who read the actual paper for newsworthy purposes.

Even though the advertisement was successful for Disney and the newspaper, I do not believe it was accepted by the public as a whole. Perhaps they may have done a better job if they had chosen a smaller section or an area other than the front page of the paper. This advertisement more than likely prevented publishing important news that really should have been on the front cover.

Vanessa Collier said...

I don't see anything wrong or unethical with newspapers selling large ads on the front page, especially for Walt Disney. I think it was very creative on their part to grab the attention of the viewers. I also think that newspapers cannot afford to pass up an opportunity to sell such a large ad. I am sure newspaper sales went up when this ad was printed, and newspapers have to continue to search for different ways to sell ads as well as subscriptions.

Even though some people I am sure had a problem with this ad, as I said before I see nothing wrong with generating revenue. With so much competition in today's market, newspapers have to stay creative in order to stay afloat. I believe this was a smart decision for the L.A. Times and Walt Disney.

Jack Elliott III said...

I do not see a problem with putting an add, for a movie, on the front page of the magazine. In this economy everyone is trying to find ways to generate money, and if they need to sell a little add space then go ahead. After all it was for the movie Alice in Wonderland. There is nothing wrong with that since movie previews are seen everywhere on tv, and are used to support tv stations. Why can't they be used to help out struggling newspapers. It just something for someone to complain about, there is always someone who wants to ruffle some feathers. We need to stop worrying about them and just live our lives.

Now I do think that it would be unethical to put controversal adds on the newspaper. Just try and keep it simple so no one will be upset. The Alice in Wonderland add actually added some flavor to the newspaper I thought. The newspaper didn't look boring and probably brought more people in to buy the paper who would normally not purchase it. Which in turn lead to more people reading the news. So I do believe it is ok to sell add space as long as it is amusing and used to draw in more readers.

Chris Stallworth said...

I believe that placing the ad on the front cover of the LA Times is appropriate. It's not really any different than displaying "The Lakers Win" with a huge photo of the team on the front cover after an important victory like a championship. The purpose is to get the attention of the public. The paper is a medium for getting information to the public and by using creative and yet unusual methods like this one, many people that don't ordinarily buy a paper may see this one and decide to purchase one just to see what all the fuss is about. I just think it is a creative use of advertised space, and if a company has the means to purchase the ENTIRE front cover then that is acceptable.

Jessica Williams said...

My opinion may differ from others because my undergrad and minor in my masters is marketing so I thought this ad was great! It's placement is perfect to draw the attention that is most likly deserved for the price that Disney paid for this ad. I don't think that the ad is professionally unethical in any way. Newspapers have to support themselves just like any other outlet. If the stance of being professionally unethical was one that I HAD to take the only way I could justify that would be venturing away from the nature of a newspaper which is typically information based. This ad takes the emphasis away from the newsworthy information and puts the spotlight on the movie or ad. This could in some minds be professionally unethical but I don't agree. Look at the amount of attention that the ad has brought to Disney and the movie, it served it's purpose and likely exceeded expectations.

Judy Roberson said...

I don't see a problem with the ad. Since it is superimposed and you can tell it is no one would thihnk that it was a news story, I think it is fine. I don't know of a law or rule that says the front page of the paper can't contain ads - it's basically a cover for their book, or in this case, their newspaper.