California TV Station Caught Pimping

Sacramento television station KCRA recently aired a "Problem Solvers" news segment where "Lynsey Paulo, a multiple regional-Emmy winner, looked at 'search engine fatigue' among online users. The report quoted three consumers, an expert from UCLA and an executive from, which provides targeted-search results. What viewers didn't see from watching the 1 minute, 40 second report was that it was nearly identical to a video news release sent to media organizations from Autobytel Inc., which owns," reports Sam McManis. "All the reporting in Paulo's piece -- sound bites, B-roll footage and even a chart -- came directly from the release." KCRA's news director said "his staff independently corroborated the facts in the story," and that "a graphic at the end of the newscast" listed the VNR material as a source. He admitted "there are some things we could've done better out of full disclosure," but said KCRA will continue to use VNRs, "if we feel like it's a good story idea and we can put it in context."