Times publisher Eddy Hartenstein is addressing the newsroom this afternoon about the uproar over his decision to put an NBC ad designed to look like a news story on a piece of the front page previously open only to Times content. A newsroom petition says, in part:
The NBC ad may have provided some quick cash, but it has caused incalculable damage to this institution. This action violates a 128-year pact with our readers that the front page is reserved for the most meaningful stories of the day. Placing a fake news article on A-1 makes a mockery of our integrity and our journalistic standards....
Our willingness to sell our most precious real estate to an advertiser is embarrassing and demoralizing.
Meanwhile, this Sunday's Calendar section will be wrapped in another ad disguised to look like Times content — this time a four-page supplement for the movie "The Soloist." It's extra misleading, says a Calendar staffer, because it includes a Q&A with Times columnist Steve Lopez, whose columns and book inspired the movie. Watch for more, er, creative cross-promoting before "The Soloist" debuts April 24.