The Chicago Tribune’s advertisement for a stage production of The Book of Mormon drew criticism from at least one reader for questionable journalism ethics. In a Jan. 7 Letter to the Editor, reader Barry Schrader, who identified himself as a “former newspaper editor,” called the Tribune‘s ad “despicable.” Schrader wrote:
“Selling your front page Monday to advertise ‘The Book of Mormon’ is a despicable act for free press and should be a violation in the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists (SDX). If this is an example of what the new ownership forces you to do to make money, then this is a sad day for Chicago journalism.”
However, the Tribune’s real front-page, as shown on the Tribune‘s Pinterest page, makes no mention of The Book of Mormon. We asked the Tribune‘s Editorial Page Editor Bruce Dold about this. Dold confirmed that the advertisement Schrader mentioned was a wrap-around ad, which iMediaEthics notes is an ad that wraps around the actual newspaper so the ad covers the front page of the paper. We’ve asked the Tribune for a response to the criticism and will update with any response.
iMediaEthics has written previously about wraparound advertisements at newspapers. In 2011, Los Angeles Times readers representative Deirdre Edgar revealed that readers complained over the Times‘ “four-page wraparond promotion for Sears” showing Khloe Kardashian, Kim Kardashian, and Kourtney Kardashian. See below an image of the 2011 Kardashian wraparound, which was posted on Twitter by Rob Kardashian.
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But, that wasn’t the first time the Los Angeles Times sold its front page before — in March 2010, the Times sold its front page to Disney for an Alice in Wonderland promotion. Later that year, the Times sold its front page for a Law & Order: Los Angeles ad. In July, it also sold a wraparound ad for its LAT Extra section to Universal Studios Hollywood.
And in 2011, the Irish Mail on Sunday was sued over its wraparound cover. That wraparound cover featured fellow Irish newspaper the Tribune’s masthead and the Tribune sued. For more background on that case, check out iMediaEthics’ February report on the wraparound, “Irish Tribune Calls for Irish Daily Mail Owner to be Kicked out of Newspaper Union.”