Fake FEMA Broadcast is a Common Practice

Everybody is riled up over the FEMA scandal, what many don’t realize is that this practice is very widespread and well documented.

Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively utilized a well established tool of public relations: the prepackaged ready-to-serve news report, to manipulate public opinion. Media negligence and the self serving interest of many federal agencies and corporations are combining to destroy the public’s right to information.

These “video news releases” (VNR’s), as they are known, are constructed to mesh seamlessly with the rest of the news broadcast. They are intended to be indistinguishable from news segments broadcast to the public by independent television news organizations. These stories include actors or others hired to portray “reporters” and may be accompanied by suggested scripts that television news anchors can use to introduce the story during the broadcast. VNR’s subtly and deftly promote the interests of those who produce them while the Press grants them credibility by divulging them. The problem lies in the fact that Media Agencies take these releases and televise them without acknowledging the government’s role in their production. One of the major reasons that this practice has become more and more common is that everybody involved wins: (With the exception of the public)

Local affiliates are spared the expense of digging up original material. Public relations firms secure government contracts worth millions of dollars. The major networks, which help distribute the releases, collect fees from the government agencies that produce segments and the affiliates that show them. The administration, meanwhile, gets out an unfiltered message, delivered in the guise of traditional reporting. (Excerpt from New York Times article)

For more information:

Center for Media and Democracy: Multimedia Report Fake TV News

Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged News

Video News Releases: United States Government Accountability Office

Global Issues: Media Manipulation

~ by Alberto Ramos Cordero on November 2, 2007.

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