Saturday, March 19, 2005

falling for fake news

By Scott M. Libin...

With tight budgets and ambitious amounts of air time to fill, some television news departments are turning to non-traditional content providers whose pitch is:

"We're from the government and we're here to help."

From Washington to Sacramento, federal and state agencies use video news releases (VNRs) to plant political messages in newscasts at no cost to the stations that carry them, and with no disclosure to viewers.

Some journalists express outrage at the notion of disguising public relations as legitimate news coverage, and of hiding from audiences the actual source of such material. But politicians don't deserve all the blame. If television stations were adequately staffed and their employees trained to understand the difference between journalism and PR, fake news wouldn't get on the air...
[read the rest after the jump]