A vertical ad that looks a lot like a news story showed up on the front page of Thursday’s Los Angeles Times. The ad, for the the NBC TV show Southland, also ran across the bottom of the page, forming a backward L. 

Retreat and form a new perimeter — at least the ad ran below the fold, leaving pristine (for now) the part of the front page that shows up in newspaper boxes. 

According to this report from laobserved.com, the original idea was for an ad that ran the full length of the front page in the right-hand column — which is the column traditionally reserved for the top story of the day. Publisher Ed Hartenstein was reportedly talked out of that by not only his newsroom — natch — but also ad department officials who believed such an ad would soil the brand and do the Times more harm than good in the long run.

Staff reaction to the ad? A petition, reports Peter Kafka of allthingsdigital.com, that says the ad “may have provided some quick cash, but it has caused incalculable damage to this institution.”