While The NYT has been busy revealing the Administration's use of faux news or video news releases to get their messages out, and the concomitant lack of responsibility shown by news stations which broadcast those VNR's, the newspaper pays considerably less attention to its own embedded ads in Time's news stories.
See generally the Friday weekly “Escapes” pullout section and more specifically the “My Life, My (fill in the name of a car)”advertisements that The NYT runs about once every two months under the heading of “Driving.” The piece from March 25, “My Life, My Nissan Maxima,” was typical. The proud Nissan owner, who described herself as an “independent type,” was pictured with her Maxima with a subhed of “Liberation on Wheels.” The soap type story goes through predictable turns as the heroine describes her love affair with the car, hits a subsequent bump in the road with a diagnosis of medical problems that prevent her from driving for six months, and an eventual redemption as she is once again reunited with her vehicular liberator.
Apart from the sap, The NYT plays a loose game of journalistic ethics. The type face for the articles is indistinguishable from other news stories. The story is not identified as an advertisement and has a reporter's “as told to” byline. Unlike other NYT archival news stories, the “My Life's” always remain free to access on the Web raising questions as to who is paying the freight for that service. A convenient fact sheet, including purchase details, accompanies the pieces.
I have raised my concerns with the public editor for The NYT, Daniel Okrent, and I have received automated responses in return. In addition to the archive availability cost questions, it would be enlightening to know whether ad dollars from the auto manufacturers (such as 3 full page ads in today's A section) are buying the adnews.