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Times to Run Ads on Section Fronts

Times Staff Writer

In an attempt to increase revenue, the Los Angeles Times will begin accepting advertisements on the front pages of some sections of the newspaper, including Calendar and Sports.

With the announcement Monday by Publisher Jeff Johnson, The Times joins several other newspapers that recently announced that they would sell ad space on one or more section fronts, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune. The move is designed to bolster flagging revenue at The Times, which reduced its staff last year to meet financial targets set by parent Tribune Co. of Chicago.

Last month, Tribune reported a 62% drop in second-quarter profit and accelerating circulation declines at its papers. Still, the company’s newspapers remain highly profitable.

American newspapers commonly sold ads on section fronts in the 19th century. The practice continues in Europe and elsewhere. But most top U.S. papers had abandoned the practice by the last half of the 20th century.

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The prime space was reserved for articles and photographs, with advertising limited to inside and back pages. But industry standards have been evolving rapidly as traditional media outlets have lost revenue in recent years, in part because of competition from the Internet.

Johnson announced the policy change in a memo e-mailed to employees Monday.

The ads will run across the bottom of the covers of the Calendar, Sports, Business and Sunday Travel sections. There are no plans to place ads on the front page of the newspaper.

“We are evaluating whether similar revenue opportunities are appropriate for our other sections,” Johnson said. “To remain competitive, we must offer advertisers innovative new ways to reach our large and influential audience.”

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Times Editor Dean Baquet said he “expressed concern” about ads running on the front of the Calendar section. He said he feared that articles about movies would run adjacent to advertising for films, perhaps giving the appearance that coverage had been compromised. But Baquet said he was reassured that there would be ways to set the ads apart from the editorial content.

“This has been more an issue of tradition than ethics, and I think there is a way we can handle it,” Baquet said.

The New York Times said in June that it would carry ads on the front of its business section. The Wall Street Journal in July said it would sell space on its front page.


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