Friday's paper featured a fake full front page promoting the Netflix fantasy series with the headline "Hybrid babies born across the US." Readers unfamiliar with Sweet Tooth wouldn't know that the fake front page, or "advertorial," wasn't real unless they saw the tiny letters starting "Advertisement." As Charles Pulliam-Moore points out, "to people familiar with the series’ premise, or the reality we live in, this fact might be obvious. But in deciding to use the front page space to promote the comic book show this way, USA Today and its parent company, Gannett, failed to understand the responsibility the press has to guard against misinformation, regardless of whether it’s intentionally malicious or not. Though the June 4 edition of USA Today also included a real front page just behind the advertorial, everyone understands that newspapers’ front pages are uniquely designed to function as advertisements for the paper as a whole while also informing readers about the contents inside. While a person might not necessarily pick up a newspaper and read it in its entirety, front pages are meant to grab attention with striking photos and gripping headlines that (ideally) tell you the most important thing you need to know about the lead stories. The Sweet Tooth advertorials read a lot like the sort of reporting you often see in tabloids where cryptids and other fictional monsters often make appearances....Many of the fearmongering stories about the covid-19 vaccines have featured fantastical elements like microchips that turn people into magnetized 5G radio towers—the sorts of things you might expect to see in a comic book and not in the conversations about a real-world, life-saving medicine. This is part of what made the Sweet Tooth advertorial copy’s actual content something of an issue in its own right, as the fake stories breathlessly described unbelievable human-animal infants being born in maternity wards. Strange as the ads read, the reality is that misinformation often plays into these sorts of conspiracy-tinged stories that stoke people’s fears about society. The Sweet Tooth ads embodied USA Today’s willingness to let its financial needs butt up against its reputation in a way that can be seen in many modern newsrooms. That was Gannett’s decision to make, but it’s one that also came at the cost of diminishing USA Today’s standing for what ultimately amounted to the physical equivalent of a pop-up ad."