WASHINGTON -- They are a secret little known outside the news and public relations businesses. "Video news releases”, or VNRs, often look like real television news reports, and you may well have seen one without even knowing it. Now the government is taking a closer look. VNRs often use actors to play reporters, and are produced by businesses or groups trying to get their messages out. The Federal Communications Commission is asking 77 TV stations about their use of VNRs, which critics label "fake news”.
The feds acted after complaints that some stations may have been running the video releases without telling viewers who paid for them. Media experts said some stations like the VNRs because they're essentially free, pre-packaged stories that fill air time.Great. Now, what do we do about Fox News?
Count the number of times your local newscast does a story that is a direct advertisement for a show that is coming on their network affiliate that evening. Is this news? So often, local news is little more than a shill for the network - to whom they are beholden - and not really news at all. Fires, traffic, bad weather forecasts and local sports qualifies as news, along with an ersatz story about the premiere of "Dancing With the Stars" or the two-hour world premiere of "Big Brother". If that qualifies as news, what's the harm with a little VNR?
I'm sure the local news directors have no idea that they are doing anything wrong. Why? Because the system is corrupted beyond recognition [FUBAR] and, like the prison colony at French Guiana, there is no escape.