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As stories about the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti flow in through every news outlet in the world, readers on thestar.com were hit Thursday with a massive advertisement for TD Waterhouse taking up the entire right half of the screen real estate usually reserved for headline and breaking news.

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Sometimes large flash-based ads have an option for the user to shrink them down, but no: this one has an option to actually expand it to take up the entire screen, and a video of Patricia Lovett-Reid, TD Waterhouse Canada’s unusually chipper Senior VP urges me to start dreaming of my retirement.

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The large ad was removed later that afternoon, and the regular-sized advertisement space took its place—sometimes with the more modest version of TD Waterhouse’s retirement promotion. Was it due to user complaints, or was it supposed to have an unusually short online lifespan to begin with? While these placements are often designed and decided on a good while in advance of the actual posting, I might feel slightly less offended if this appeared on a slow news day without thousands-strong death tolls on my mind.

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About the author

Jonathan Ore was the Chief Copy Editor for the Spring 2010 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

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