The Center for Media and Democracy presents a startling indictment of TV news stations, who use video segments produced by PR firms for corporate clients and present them as their own news stories:
- A station in New York showed — as news — a video produced for a drug company that touted their new supplement as a “major health breakthrough” even though a widely reported government study had found that it was little better than a placebo.
- In one case, a TV station even went as far as to remove safety warnings from a video promoting a new prescription skin cream.
- The TV stations never disclosed that they were presenting sponsored items as news.
- In more than half the cases, the TV station disguised corporate promotional videos by having one of their reporters re-voice the audio, sometimes merely repeating the original narration word-for-word. In other cases, the station identified the narrator in the video as one of their reporters, even though that person worked for a PR firm hired by a corporation.
We are talking about TV stations during their news programs presenting supposed news stories that are actually corporate advertisements in disguise. Over 100 TV stations — both large and small, which broadcast to 53% of the US population — regularly use corporate-sponsored videos called VNRs (video news releases, a combination of video news and press release). Their conclusion is that a significant amount of TV news is really bought-and-paid-for corporate propaganda.
UPDATE: Perhaps not very surprisingly, a new poll says that more people trust Internet news than TV or radio. And this is not a new development — I found an unrelated poll from March that shows that pretty much the same thing.