VNRs - the hidden shame
The Center for Media and Democracy late last week released a pretty comprehensive report on TV stations' misuse of video news releases produced by private companies and PR shops (see related NY Times story).
The misuse is simple -- making it look like something your own TV station produced. And the solution is simple -- just put a super on screen telling who produced it or provided the video. Somehow, TV stations have gotten the idea that is is less than macho to admit you are using handout video. That used to be the standard -- tell where it came from -- and I can't think that in all those years I thought any less of a station or network for doing it. (And when I was in TV, that was the standard. How quaint, huh?)
Some of the most pernicious uses, to my mind, are the local "health" reports where the video is provided by a drug company or hospital chain -- or, frankly, even off CNN -- but the local reporter or anchor is reading the script as if it were the station's own. I see it all the time in Columbia. (See a detailed report from Grade the News on a misuse in San Francisco.)
But lest the print types get smug -- don't. You know all those "Contact the experts" house ads your paper's running? Take a look at whether those "experts" have paid for the privilege to be called that. Bet they have.