Wednesday, March 23, 2005

terminating fake news

VNRs (video news releases)--basically video press releases dressed up to look like news reporting--have been one of tv's dirty little secrets for years. but ever since the karen ryan scandal broke last spring, people have finally started to look into it (well, people other than prwatch and the center for media and democracy, who've been following the trend for a decade and have an fcc petition to stop fake news).

recently ahnuld, the governator, has also gotten in trouble for producing VNRs. but if these people have anything to say about it, that trend will end.

The California Labor Federation, the California Nurses Association and a division of the Service Employees International Union claim the segments produced by the state labor and health agencies violate the state's law against using government resources to produce propaganda promoting its policy positions.

california actually has a law barring the government from producing propaganda with public money? wow.

The administration has defended the segments, saying they were little more than press releases formatted on video for television news. News media experts have said that production of such segments is common and that responsibility rests with media outlets to use them responsibly with balancing material, but also acknowledge there is a temptation with limited budgets to simply use the material as-is.

of course, this is true to an extent... VNRs are extremely common, and once you know what to look for you can even start spotting them (especially on local news). much of the fault does lie with news producers who air these things uncut and unaltered, without so much as a paid government propaganda crawler at the bottom of the screen. but that hardly excuses those who create the VNRs from responsibility. that would be like selling biological or chemical weapon tech to a foreign nation and then getting pissed when they actually use it. (oh... wait...)

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