Many people have heard that the mainstream corporate media lies to people. But few know exactly how that is done. As long ago as 2006, a study by The Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch in Madison publicized one technique – video news releases (VNRs). While most VNRs are created by corporations with the intent of selling a product, the U.S. government uses them to sell its policies.
Dozens of television stations have been investigated for broadcasting VNRs produced by corporations or the U.S. government and passing them off as real news. The use of VNRs without full disclosure of the source is illegal and carries a fine from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Television newscasts, which remain the most popular news source for most people in the United States, frequently air VNRs without disclosure to viewers, without conducting their own reporting, and even without fact checking the claims made in the VNRs.
Many of the corporate reports, produced by drugs manufacturers such as Pfizer, focus on health issues and promote the manufacturer’s product. Disclosure information regarding the source is sometimes removed when it is broadcast by the television channel, as was the case with Fox-owned stations in St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Miami and South Bend, IN.
Here’s one example of a corporation using a VNR, as reported by TV News Lies:
NEWS ALERT: A man survived a jump from a plane this afternoon. He was not wearing a parachute and he credits his new Nike Plane Jumpers with cushioning his fall.
Now let’s say that story is completely true. All the networks and printed media pick up the story. Front page, lead story. Well, what they forgot to tell you was that the plane was a 2 seater plane, and it was on the runway, stopped, and the jump was from 3 feet off the ground. Now the full story was available to all the media, but Fox News does not feel that those details are important.
That may be a great corporate plug for Nike, but it is nothing that is even close to the truth about what really happened in that event.
A bigger problem arises when the U.S. government uses VNRs to “sell