With no detectable fanfare, the Los Angeles Times has spiked a special advertising section tied to a costly downtown Labor Day–weekend extravaganza called “The Celebration at City Hall.”
Times corporate declined to explain the about-face, but there’s no doubt that the organization wants to avoid any comparisons with the 1999 Staples Center embarrassment, when the Times got hammered for mingling editorial and advertising prerogatives in a special edition of the Sunday magazine that “celebrated” the arena’s opening.
“We are not planning to distribute the special advertising section,” said Times corporate spokeswoman Martha Goldstein. “There is no comment beyond that.”
Last month, in a story first reported in the Weekly, Goldstein described the special section as an advertising supplement tied to the official rededication of old City Hall, after three years of restoration.
According to a June brochure, “The event will be promoted via advertising, including a Los Angeles Times Special Section, through partnerships with television and radio media and an aggressive public relations effort.”
The solicitation seemed aimed specifically at concerns that do business with the city or would like to. For the September event, an entity called Project Restore solicited donors for up to $250,000 to help foot entertainment and other costs of a celebratory street festival. Before the Times had second thoughts, big-ticket donors were set to receive $45,000 worth of advertising space in the special Times section. High-rolling contributors also were invited to attend a reception in the Times building.