Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Front page for sale. I couldn't find one while I was running around the Back Bay earlier today, but a colleague just handed it to me: a very, very special edition of today's Boston Herald, given to her free of charge at Downtown Crossing.

Free, but not without a cost. Because the front is a mock cover that looks like the Herald, but that is apparently a full-page ad for JetBlue, which today - according to the lead "story" - "launches its much-anticipated nonstop service from Logan Airport to Orlando, Tampa and Denver."

The splash reads "JetBlue Arrives, Promises a Free TV to All Who Fly." There's an asterisk next to "TV," and an explanation that the head refers merely to "the complimentary satellite TV on JetBlue, not an actual television set."

Other tidbits include "Flight Attendant Gives Passenger Entire Can of Soda," "Blue Potato Chip Discovered, Enjoyed by JetBlue Passenger," and weather reports from JetBlue's destination cities.

Something you won't find: any mention of the fact that this is an advertisement, not news.

Flip open the paper, and there is today's unadulterated Herald. So, yeah, it's a free newspaper once you get past the front-page ad.

But at the very least, the front should have been prominently labeled as an ad. This isn't just a violation of the traditional wall separating business and editorial - this is an out-and-out demolition.

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