The New York Times has now fully blurred its news reporting roles and its and its reporters' commercial forays into book publishing.
Some time ago, I raised this issue with regard to an advertisement for a Times book presented as an article about Bernard Madoff.
Now, we see it again. A front page story by Times reporter Jodi Kantor about Michelle Obama contains this paragraph:
But interviews with more than 30 current and former aides, as well as some of the first couple’s closest friends, conducted for “The Obamas,” a new book, show that she has been an unrecognized force in her husband’s administration and that her story has been one first of struggle, then turnaround and greater fulfillment.
And, at the end of the article, we have this tag line:
This article was adapted from “The Obamas,” by Jodi Kantor, which will be published Tuesday by Little, Brown & Company.
Indeed, the whole article is just a teaser for the book, for it can scarcely be considered front page news. Since when does a reporter get to publish a self-referential story based on his or her book? Since when does a newspaper permit this kind of commercial use of a front page story, whether for its own profitability or that of its reporters?