New Orleans Times-Picayune
Advance Digital is paying New Orleans Saints players Drew Brees, Lance Moore, Tracy Porter, Pierre Thomas and Jonathan Vilma to tweet a plug for the Times-Picayune's redesigned Saints site. Advance's marketing team didn't consult with editors or reporters before launching the campaign. (Advance Digital is the Internet arm of Advance Publications Inc., which owns the Times-Picayune.)

"There's no suggestion that the act of paid endorsement by a player reflects on the coverage of The Times-Picayune," says Advance Digital content veep John Hassell. He wouldn't disclose details of the agreement, including how much each player was paid.

The Times-Picayune's story on the deal notes that this "unusual arrangement" highlights the advertising potential of Twitter as well as the ethical concerns media companies face in using it as a promotional vehicle. Editor Jim Amoss says readers shouldn't question the independence of his reporters and columnists covering the Saints. "Any sponsored messages, whether on the Web or in the newspaper, are designated as such and are distinct from our editorial content," he says in a statement.
> New Orleans radio talk-show host received $250,000 from landfill owner