Wednesday, August 16, 2006

This Just In: Fake News Isn't Real

Working in public relations, you get a really good feel for the media and certain trends that come around every dozen months or so.

Every now and then, some higher up realizes that TV stations are airing VNR's like they're real news. (Quick Definition: VNR's are 30-60 second videos that are produced by independent companies. They have a voicetrack giving information and statistics, with B-Roll, or just rolling camera shots with no sound, in the background. Independent PR companies will pitch these to TV stations as reports on news, though all reporters should know a VNR is usually little more than a newsy looking commercial.)

This was highlighted during Bush's presidency, when his PR people sent out 9/11 VNR's for his 2nd election and portrayed them as real news. Several legitimate news agencies aired those VNR's, mere campaign commercials, as real news, and the backlash hit the PR industry like a shockwave. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, took VNRs, for at least 6 months after that. To this day many news rooms won't take VNRs. Most other TV newsrooms relented after a while, but every time this crops up in the news, the clamp down happens again.

It happened again.

So if you're in PR, working with VNRs...keep your head down.


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