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Times Marketing Sprint 

Wednesday, Jun 10 1998
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Lest we had any nagging doubts about the sincerity of L.A. Times publisher Mark Willes' promise to "break down the wall" between advertising and editorial at the paper ("with a bazooka, if necessary," he vowed), last Wednesday's Times reassured us. Wednesday, you will recall, was the day after the election, and a pretty big day in the news biz. And yet the Times found room on Page 1 for a story on Sprint's new ION service, which, to quote from the breathless lead, will "revolutionize the way people use their telephones." Odd, but The New York Times, The Washington Post, indeed most major dailies missed this big news break. The Wall St. Journal relegated it to a couple hundred words, tucked into a corner on Page 3. Even USA Today left it in the business section.

Our proud paper, meanwhile, gave Sprint's new product a second story in Business, for a grand total of 2,299 words. How did the Times get that story? Follow the front-page story to the jump on Page 14, and you can't help but notice that the facing page and the preceding page carried full-page ads for . . . ION, Sprint's "Revolutionary New Network," as the ad copy puts it.

According to Times spokeswoman Laura Morgan, the ads' placement was "pure coincidence." "One is clearly an ad and the other is clearly a news story," she went on. "Let there be no doubt."
-Ben Ehrenreich

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