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Local Tourism Boosters Pay Top Dollar for Free Publicity

When you read the first few paragraphs of this weekend's article about Fort Lauderdale in the Toronto Star, you can't help but say, "You can't pay for publicity that good!" Seriously -- imagine you're a gay man marooned in the Frozen North, preparing to go the next six months or so without seeing your shadow, only to find this temptation in your morning paper:

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.-Sebastian Beach is packed with gay men of all shapes and sizes on this warm Sunday afternoon. In the middle of the crowd sits a group of five Montrealers. Two of them are fish-belly pale and three are deeply burnt on the shoulders, but their burns are turning into tans.

"First we look at the guys and then we look at the view," says one.

They describe the hardships of their life here: sleep, eat, lie on the beach, have a couple of drinks in a gay bar in Wilton Manors. It's an example of what draws LGBT visitors to the former Spring Break destination.

A local tourism booster couldn't have written it better himself -- or herself, since Nicki Grossman handles that for job for Greater Fort Lauderdale. In fact, if you read the fine print, you'll see Grossman's own fingerprints on this priceless piece of publicity.

In italics, buried at the bottom of the article, is this little bit of info about the writer:
Julia Steinecke's trip was subsidized by American Airlines, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Riverside Hotel and the Courtyard Marriott.
I guess it's more disclosure than you get from the travel sections of most major newspapers. It begs the question: Considering the likelihood that a major national newspaper will soon tell the world about Broward's recent political scandal, can Grossman and Co. please bribe a reporter for the New York Times to write that Broward officials don't take bribes?

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Thomas Francis

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