They say you shouldn't bite the hand that feeds you, but since this blog is purely voluntary, I have a few choice thoughts on the Star Tribune's new page design.

This morning I turned to page A5 of my Sunday paper. There it was: somber President Obama looking down soberly to the floor, reflecting on the challenges of the federal budget. Or wait? Perhaps Obama was looking at the Target ad sandwiched between him and his newspaper story!  That's right. Apparently there's a new page design at the Star Tribune wherein advertising actually appears to be embedded within the confines of a newspaper story. I doubt I was the only person this morning scratching his head, wondering what this Target "story" had to do with the federal budget. It didn't dawn on me until further study that the Target material was simply an ad, having nothing to do with the story. Once I realized what had happened, I was rather put out.

Times are desperate for newspapers. I recognize that. From printing the classifieds upside-down to now embedding advertising into editorial content, I think the industry has jumped the shark. It's almost as though they've thrown in the towel, telling readers, "You decide what's news and what's advertising!" I also understand the old saying, "There's no such thing as bad PR." That saying worked when no one had a blog or 1000s of people following them on Twitter.

I hope today's ad placement was an honest mistake, and I'm writing this blog post as an invitation to the paper to set the record either straight or explain to us their reasoning. It's always been my understanding that editorial and advertising must live apart -- ne'er shall the two meet. This morning they met. They embraced. And that's wrong.