Puffery, Orange County Register style

The Los Angeles Times examines a media ethics issue involving one of its competitors.

Early this year, Orange County Register executives approached officials at three local universities with an offer they couldn’t resist — weekly, six-page sections packed with positive news about their schools.

For $275,000 apiece, UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton and Chapman University were promised a half-page ad in each of 45 sections over the next year, along with feature stories, events coverage, personality profiles and other light fare produced by Register staffers.

The schools jumped at what one UCI marketing official called “an exciting new partnership.” In a memo to colleagues, Ria M. Carlson, UCI associate vice chancellor for strategic communications, said that the school’s PR specialists would serve as “content advisors, idea generators and collaborators.”

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