Product placement: It's not just for entertainment shows anymore


With a new sponsorship deal between MSNBC's Morning Joe and Starbucks (SBUX), NBC News has become the first network news operation to weave endorsement of an advertiser into the fabric of its programming. In exchange for what The New York Times reports to be more than $10 million, Joe Scarborough and his breakfast-hour companions will quaff Starbucks-brewed beverages on air (as, in fact, they've been doing, gratis, for years) and promote the chain with graphics and voice-overs.

A show with a coffee-inspired pun for a name hooking up with a coffee sponsor: What could be more natural, right? But the MSNBC-Starbucks marriage is sure to induce jitters among journalism ethicists, who've been watching as recession-stressed media companies have done away, one by one, with the traditional buffers between news and entertainment.