Can You Spot the Real Daily Bruin Front Page?

The latest ethical conundrum in collegemediatopia is brought to you by the letter B.  Try the guessing game below.  Which one is the real front page and which is the deceptively-designed wrap ad?

As fellow college media blogger Bryan Murley, who oozes innovation over at CICM, first reported and graciously passed my way: Daily Bruin staffers at UCLA are irate about honey bees and an advertisement related to honey-flavored ice cream of some sort (umm??) that attempts to build its buzz not through actual salesmanship but trickery.  The ad is modeled very cunningly after the Bruin‘s actual everyday front page, just with the featured scoops switched from real news to ice cream promotions.

Check out Bryan’s spot-on post for the responses of the Daily Bruin staff (expressed in part via an editorial and a separate note from the EIC published on the genuine front page).  They are NOT happy, stating that many volunteered to forgo their pay if it would stop the bees from attacking.   The editorial fully admits the ad is an offshoot of the bad-and-the-ugly economy, stating in the headline, “Ad on front page due to financial distress.”

The problem here of course is the art of deception.  The ad carries a subtle “Paid Advertisement” stamp (see if you can spot it) but otherwise emits an editorial glow that the un-astute UCLA reader would not be able to tell apart from the newspaper’s own content (i.e. making it seem like honey ice cream deserves front page attention).  In Murley’s words:

Look, it’s one thing to place an ad around your content. It’s one thing to think up new ways to make money on innovative marketing ideas. Heck, I even applauded when the New York Times started running front page ads! But this is just wrong. Shame on the marketers for concocting this sad little ploy to trade on the tradition of a 90-year-old journalistic enterprise, and shame on whoever it was who forced the issue to trade that journalistic tradition for a few pieces of gold.

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