Thursday, April 06, 2006


Proof, finally, of something I've known intuitively for some time - perhaps since 2000. This is why I bother to blog.

Fellow Texans - before you read below - a quick reminder to vote in the run-off primary for U.S. Senate Democrat candidate Barbara Radnofsky. Early voting is April 3-7. You need to do this. VOTE...VOTE AND VOTE, PLEASE! LS


77 TV stations aired 'fake news reports'

04/05/2006 @ 10:57 pm

Filed by Ron Brynaert

A study by a group that monitors the media reveals that, over a ten month span, 77 television stations from all across the nation aired video news releases without informing their viewers even once that the reports were actually sponsored content, RAW STORY has found.


One "news report" that aired on three stations relied on a video news release (VNR) produced by a PR firm on behalf of General Motors which was even apparently based on a "false claim."

Center for Media and Democracy's Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed is "a multimedia report on television newsrooms' use of material provided by PR firms on behalf of paying clients," containing video footage of the 36 video news releases (VNRs) cited in the report, plus a map and spreadsheet of the stations cited.

General Motors, Intel, Pfizer and Capital One are among the companies who produced VNRs with the help of three PR firms, and "[m]ore than one-third of the time, stations aired the pre-packaged VNR in its entirety."

An Oklahoma City FOX station owned by Sinclair is pegged as the "report's top repeat offender," airing five VNRs in full on its news broadcasts, with "the publicist's original narration each time."

Three stations "not only aired entire VNRs without disclosure, but had local anchors and reporters read directly from the script prepared by the broadcast PR firm."

A firm called Medialink produced a VNR for General Motors which was left largely unchanged when aired on news broadcasts in Louisiana and Pennsylvania.

"GM, who introduced the first manufacturer web site in 1996, has recently lowered prices, in some cases by thousands of dollars, on all of their models as a direct result of the customers' ability to comparison shop on the Internet," intoned Medialink's Kate Brookes in the spot.

But the Center for Media and Democracy blasts GM's "historical claim" as "fake."

"A simple dated search for "automotive web site" in the Nexis news database revealed a press release from August 1995 in which Volkswagen heralded the launch of their web portal," the report states. "It wasn't until February 1996 that General Motors announced in their own press release."

A comparison between the General Motors VNR and one of the news broadcasts can be seen at this link.

Last year the New York Times published an article called "Under Bush, a new age of prepackaged TV news" - written by David Barstow and Robin Stein - which reported on the stealthy use of VNRs created by government agencies that crept into network news broadcasts.

The Times revealed that even though Radio-Television News Directors Association's "code of ethics" specifies to "clearly disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by outsiders," the Federal Communications Commission has "never disciplined a station for showing government-made news segments without disclosing their origin."


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Anonymous said...

Oh my god that's Kate Epstein from News12NJ ... I used to work with her.
Crazy Planet!