Thursday, September 29, 2016

MassMedia: You Know News, But Do You Know Fake News? (W6-P1) [VID] Fa16

Before we talk about news and journalism, let's talk about what is not news or journalism.

Let's look specifically at VNRs.  Also note the relationship between VNRs and the more recent concept of native advertising.

Watch the following clip from a local TV news cast.

When watching the above clip from a news broadcast what are your reasonable assumptions?  That the people interviewed are local people?  That this is a local story?  That the reporter did the interviews and wrote the story?  That this is real news?

Now, check out this next video which was written and produced by independent video company and funded Quest Diagnostics, a company that runs lab testing centers around the U.S. where allergy testing is done. 

What did you notice?  What if you started both video clips at about the same time?  Try it. Start the bottom clip, wait a few seconds and start the top clip.  Notice any difference?

The second clip you saw is an example of what is called a video news release (some background).

"Video news releases or VNRs (also referred to as fake TV news) are segments designed to be indistinguishable from independently-produced news reports that are distributed and promoted to television newsrooms. TV stations incorporate VNRs into their newscasts, rarely alerting viewers to the source of the footage. While government-funded VNRs have been most controversial, most VNRs are paid for by corporations; non-governmental organizations also put out VNRs" (SourceWatch).

Check out the following video.

KMSP-9 Helps Rev Up Convertible Sales

If you are interested, see another video comparing a local news cast with a VNR on YouTube or check out even more examples of VNRs and local news stories from PRWatch.

In the clip above, Pakman, mentions the FCC's sponsorship identification rules. Here is one rule/law.

"... the Communications Act of 1934, ... requires broadcasters to disclose to their listeners or viewers if matter has been aired in exchange for money, services or other valuable consideration. The announcement must be aired when the subject matter is broadcast. The Commission has adopted a rule, ... which sets forth the broadcasters' responsibilities to make this sponsorship identification" (FCC). 

How does this apply in the VNR situation?

So, corporations put out VNRs and they sometimes show up as news.

Is the use of VNRs as news appropriate?  Is it ethical?   Who is at fault?

Spotted any examples of VNRs airing as news in the past few months?

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