Thursday, April 27, 2006
TV Turn-Off Week, Part IV: TV News--Purveyor of Information or Corporate Shill?
Occasionally, reading the newspaper, you will run across a "news item" with a headline like "New Weight-Loss Pill Works Wonders!" and the crap detector goes off, and if you have experience with newspapers, you will look at the top of the page--sure enough, there's the small print: "Paid Advertisement." I don't know if it's a law or if it's just journalistic ethics, but it's pretty consistent. Well, guess what, television news is apparently lacking either a law or an ethic that would require the producers to notify the public when they are watching a "news item" that is actually produced by a corporation, for the benefit of that corporation. I'm assuming that it is because no money changes hands--it's a barter, the corporation gets free air time and the tv station gets free, professionally produced video that passes for news.
A study just came out from the Center for Media & Democracy called "Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed," that details the ways that tv stations throughout the country, in both large and small markets, spoonfeed prepackaged information to their audiences, using various ruses to make it seem as if the station produced the segment even though they didn't even check the facts presented.
Here's the link: read it and weep.