Flush with cash and savvy about the web, Barack Obama's campaign bought large banner ads on 26 local media websites in Ohio and Texas that blare the message: "Vote for Barack Obama."
Now, some in the journalism community are questioning the propriety of the TV, radio, and newspaper sites featuring the multimedia ads for one political candidate on the eve of crucial contests in the two big states.
Bill Mitchell writes in a column on the website of The Poynter Institute that the ad, which runs with a small disclaimer that it is a paid political advertisement, is striking for its "prominence and interactivity."
Website visitors who click on the ad see and hear Obama and there's also a feature to find the nearest polling place. It appears on the homepages of newspaper websites, including that of the Akron Beacon Journal.
Mitchell raises a series of questions, which he sent to editors and news directors at several of the sites. Among them: How they decided to accept the ad, and whether that call would have been different if it had attacked Clinton? How much risk is there that readers might interpret the ad as a tacit endorsement? Would the decision have been different if the economic climate were different?
Full disclosure: A smaller Obama banner ad appears at the top of the Globe's politics webpage.