Video News Releases

Narrowcasting Video News Releases

Public relations firms that produce video news releases (VNRs) aren't just targeting national news, writes Craig McGuire of PR Week. Increasingly, they're working to place their videos on local and cable stations as well as websites. "Today VNRs are much more than just broadcast placement tools.


The Emperor Doesn't Disclose: Why the Fight Against Fake News Continues

Like much news that's damaging to the Bush administration, the report came out on a Friday.

"Remixed War Propaganda" by Micah Ian WrightSince then, it's gotten little media attention -- just 41 mentions in U.S. newspapers and wire stories, according to a news database search on October 11. That's remarkably sparse coverage for a story showing that the U.S. government has been engaged in illegal propaganda aimed at its own citizens.

Ketchum Catches No Heat, Gets New Contract

As part of a $300 million, three-year U.S. government effort encouraging seniors to sign up for the new Medicare prescription drug program, the PR firm Ketchum won a $25 million contract, including $2 million in fees, to manage the advertising campaign.


Fake News Gets Called on the Carpet

Conservative commentator Armstrong Williams"The Bush administration violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party," ruled the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. The GAO report, "the first definitive ruling on the legality of the activities," found that the Department of Education contract with the Ketchum PR firm violated the ban on "covert propaganda." Objectionable activities include a video news release where PR flack Karen Ryan says the Bush tutoring program "gets an A-plus"; news monitoring to determine whether stories agree that "the Bush administration / the G.O.P. is committed to education"; and Armstrong Williams' newspaper columns and television spots praising the No Child Left Behind Act, without disclosing that he was paid by the Education Department. The GAO doesn't have enforcement powers, but reports to the White House and Congress.


Video News Releases: They're Everywhere!

Thomas Lang and Zachary Roth have done some further sleuthing into the Education Department's video news release (VNR) that featured fake "reporter" Karen Ryan and promoted the No Child Left Behind law. "It turns out that the No Child Left Behind VNR, presented as news, ran more widely than we had thought - it's just that it didn't always include Karen Ryan," they write. "A number of local stations ran the VNR as is, and added a local twist by simply having their own reporter read the script.



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