The San Francisco Examiner and Independent "agreed Friday to label as advertising a regular restaurant news column the newspapers had used to reward advertisers and solicit ads from eating establishments." Previously, ad salesperson George Habit had written food columns identified only as "special to the Examiner" or "Independent Newspapers." Habit admitted, "I use the column as an initiative to get advertisers to run an ad. ... We do favor the accounts that are advertisers. Even if the food is not good, the atmosphere is good. You can always find nice things to say about a restaurant." That's been true even for restaurants receiving multiple health-code violations, according to Grade the News. Habit said past editors had tried to end his column due to ethical concerns, but publishers "ruled in my favor" because "I'm responsible for over a half million dollars a year in advertising."
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