March 25, 2009
The New York Times is a trusted source of information for millions of people worldwide.
And they make it clear that they will reject advertising that "contain[s] fraudulent, deceptive or misleading statements or illustrations."
So why is the "newspaper of record" running a discounted online ad on the top left of their front page for an alleged AIDS charity that was booted out of Illinois... and that has no available record that any funds have been raised or given to HIV/AIDS?
Yesterday, the website of the Beverly Hills-based "Center for AIDS Prevention" boasted that they were supporting HIV/AIDS labs, scientific conferences, and a range of services. And their ad on the Times website asked for donations.
However, local and national leaders have said they have never heard of the group, and their publicly-available financial records from 2006 and 2007 show zero revenue, zero expenses.
After the scandal was publicized in blogs, including the investigative journalist site ProPublica, they cleaned up their site (at least temporarily) -- removing claims that they support laboratory facilities and scientific conferences and ads for herbal remedies -- but they still claim to provide a range of local services.
But there's no evidence that the money is providing legitimate HIV/AIDS services. They are not even listed in the California AIDS Hotline database.
On the Times site, the ad no longer directly asks for donations -- but the website it links to certainly does.
So where's the money going?
Legitimate AIDS organizations are facing increasing financial challenges -- we need ethical standards in fundraising and advertising!
ACT NOW: Contact the "Center for AIDS Prevention" to ask them where the money's going, and hold the New York Times accountable for their advertising:
1) Contact the New York Times public editor ("the readers' representative") and their advertising representatives to ask him how this advertising practice fits within either their stated guidelines or ethical practices:
Clary Hoyt, Public Editor
Diane McNulty, Advertising Department
2) Call the "Center for AIDS Prevention" to ask them for a full accounting of any funds they have collected, including anything through the New York Times ad, through their website, at the Valentine's Day event mentioned in the ProPublica article, or any other fundraising efforts.
"Center for AIDS Prevention"