This is the top of the front page of the Los Angeles Times website right now — the most prominent spot for news and establishing your brand and snagging new readers based on the value and heft of your reputation. The bikini babe and other imagery is from the new release of Grand Theft Auto V — that's a video game, for the vast majority of Times web visitors who have never played and never will. The top story on the page, of course, is yesterday's murder of a dozen people in Washington — by a gunman obsessed with violent video games.
I assume that Grand Theft Auto V came out everywhere — so we can assume that all top-level media outlets turned over their most valuable web real estate to a cheesy ad campaign that would pretty much only appeal to fan boys, right? Let's see...not the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN or Fox News. Not the local competition like the Register or the Daily News. They all face the same financial realities of finding the money to cover the news while transforming to more digital future. Yet not even TMZ turned its most most viewed spot over to a video game bikini babe.
Says the former high-level Times editor who emailed me the screen grab: "Stay classy, LA Times." Compare:
* Sept. 19 update: The New York Times gets some of the GTA ad love today, but look at the difference in treatment.