To write for a newspaper nowadays is to compromise endlessly. Want to obscure my story on military veterans being mistreated with a cover-page ad? Fine! None of us is exactly in a place to complain about ad dollars coming in the front door.
But there has to be some kind of limit. For example, an award-winning newspaper would never let a sketchy politician pay to put a sticker of herself on its front page, right?
Oh. Never mind.
Yesterday the Miami Herald arrived on Miami doorsteps with a garish ad of a smiling assistant city attorney Veronica Diaz on its front page, top fold.
This might not have been that weird if the Herald hadn't just run a 500-word article about how Diaz allegedly steered lucrative city work to her fiancé's law firm.
Four days after that article, the Herald's editorial board cited that scandal while endorsing Diaz's opponent, Renier Diaz de la Portilla, for Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge.
I wrote Herald executive editor Mindy Marques and managing editor Rick Hirsch to ask if the ad was, well, weird or inappropriate. I also asked if this was the first instance of a politician taking out a front-page ad in the paper.
Last night I received an answer from the Herald's president and publisher, Alexandra Villoch.
"Our Advertising Division handles all advertising and advertising policies," she wrote. "Regarding your inquiry on Herald Notes that are affixed to the front of the newspaper or section fronts: we have offered these sticky notes for many, many years. They have been available to political candidates for years and are used extensively."
Villoch defended the ad as an example of the separation between the Herald's editorial and advertising duties.
"We respect the privacy of our advertising clients, and their selection of available advertising space is never divulged prior to publication," she wrote.
And in response to my question about whether Diaz's opponent would be offered similar billing, Villoch responded, "All political candidates and Advocacy groups are able to take advantage of our advertising offerings in print, direct mail, and online as long as they comply with all our political and advocacy guidelines."