The New York Times Defends Putting Ad With Bloodied Man Next to Bombing Coverage

Too soon?

Headshot of Tim Nudd

The New York Times took some heat from readers on Monday for allowing an online ad showing a bloodied man lying on the ground to appear next to coverage of the bombings in Boston. The ad, for the Sundance Channel show Rectify, received enough criticism that the paper's public editor, Margaret Sullivan, weighed in with a piece Wednesday—giving some background and confirming that the paper did indeed approve the juxtaposition, and that it wasn't just some oversight. "This did not feel like it crossed the threshold," the Times's ranking advertising executive, Todd R. Haskell, tells Sullivan. Haskell says that by Monday, it had been a full week since the bombings, which made the ad more acceptable. "We try to be as respectful as we can but these are subjective calls that we make in real time," he adds. (The show premiered Monday, which also made it more difficult to move it to a later date.) Sullivan ends up agreeing with Haskell and with Richard J. Meislin, a former associate managing editor who now is a liaison between the newsroom and the ad department, who said he thought the juxtaposition was "unfortunate, but it did not cross the line to the point where we would ask that the ad be taken down." What do you think?

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.