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Corporate Propaganda Still On the News

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the corporate-speech dept.

275

mofomojo writes, "Democracy Now! reports that a new study by the Center for Media and Democracy says Americans are still being shown corporate public relations videos disguised as news reports on newscasts across the country. In April, the Center identified 77 stations using Video News Releases in their newscasts; the findings led to an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission. A followup study has found that 10 of those stations are still airing VNRs today, for a new total of 46 stations in 22 states." From the article: "Most of the VNRs have aired on stations owned by large media conglomerates such as News Corp., Tribune, and Disney. They've also been sponsored by some of the country's biggest corporations including General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, and Allstate Insurance."

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275 comments

In a related story (1)

diersing (679767) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850552)

Microsoft survey say's they are best, film at 11.

Re:In a related story (0)

aplusjimages (939458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851694)

Did I just go through a time portal? "film at 11"? What stations still shoot on film? What stations still say film at 11?

Are these like Slashvertisments? (4, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850554)

Adverts disguised as stories?

Re:Are these like Slashvertisments? (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850874)

For that matter, what is this story except a regurgitated press release from one of "the country's biggest" political non-profits?

Re:Are these like Slashvertisments? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16851122)

OMG, TFA is a VNR!

Which it actually was... a PR piece by a decidedly biased website with a grandiose and neutral-sounding name.

As to media in general, no wonder I prefer BBC News. They're the only one I can trust to at least try to uphold some kind of journalistic integrity. Sure others do too, but I can't tell which. (And have no time to check up on every story I see.) Any other recommendations? :)

Re:Are these like Slashvertisments? (1)

LilGuy (150110) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851380)

I'm afraid the BBC has as many dirty tricks up their sleeve as anyone... they just choose to be more conservative with how and when they use them. I trust no major media company whatsoever.

Re:Are these like Slashvertisments? (2, Insightful)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851450)

Most news is wire stories and press releases. That it is expected to be any different for television news is a bizarre concept.

--
Evan

Re:Are these like Slashvertisments? (4, Insightful)

Gregory Cox (997625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851258)

Yes, but these are worse.

Slashdot editors don't check the affiliations of people who submit stories, and allow anonymous submissions, so Slashvertisements are possible. However, I don't think anyone expects anything different. The submitters are named, or the story starts "An anonymous reader writes...", and readers are left to draw their own conclusions about any potential bias.

On the other hand, news channels don't take submissions from just anyone when they make news stories. They're supposed to be deciding what to air themselves, with the aim of informing their viewers. If they use a corporate PR video that looks like a news report, they ought to know the source; the problem is when they deliberately fail to declare who made it, as this means that they are disguising advertisements as news.

This story... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16850566)

Is not very interesting.

Fox News better be careful.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16850610)

or they will get caught airing their corporate advertisments of the Republican Party.

Better than government news stories (3, Insightful)

Salvance (1014001) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850612)

I've seen a few of these fake corporate news stories, and usually it's pretty obvious that the story came from a company (particularly for regular viewers, since the local news reporters are typically not involved). As sneaky as this is though, I'd much rather watch corporate ads disguised as news than government propaganda disguised as news [independent.co.uk], something the current administration has been found to do.

Either way, it's pretty sneaky and low.

Re:Better than government news stories (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16850772)

As sneaky as this is though, I'd much rather watch corporate ads disguised as news than government propaganda disguised as news

What have you got, then?

Well there's news, propaganda and news, news news ads and propaganda, propaganda news ads and propaganda, news news ads ads and propaganda, and propaganda news and ads...

Have you got anything without propaganda in it?

Well, there's news news ads and propaganda. That's not got much propaganda in it.

I don't want any propaganda!

Re:Better than government news stories (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16850808)

How dare you express such insubordination toward our rightful superiors?

Don't you realize that they have our best interests at heart? Those kind leaders, in government and industry alike, seek naught but to guide us gently along the correct path.

Without such friendly guidance, would the plebes understand the importance of torture, the vital necessity of constant surveillance, and the horrible danger of jury trials? These ideas are all vital and beautiful aspects of enlightened rule, yet we see at every turn their subjection to unfair criticism.

Without so-called "propaganda," our Great Motherland will yet fall to Satan, deep into the clutch of Commies, Witches, Pirates, and Terrorists. Please, cease your traitorous comments and lend a hand to the Cause.

Re:Better than government news stories (1)

Rhett's Dad (870139) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851114)

Hey, G.W., you forgot to sign in again... your post came up "anonymous coward"...

Re:Better than government news stories (4, Interesting)

real gumby (11516) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850980)

...usually it's pretty obvious that the story came from a company...
The problem is: how do you know?
 
Perhaps you only notice the poorly-done ones. After all, it's common to have radio DJs do spots for local businesses, which also is clearly an ad. But it's also common for DJs to work product mentions into the morning banter. The same applies to TV: how can you tell if that news segment on the local Coke plant was just a random filler or an ad placement by the bottler? What's the difference?

Re:Better than government news stories (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851038)

Can they take this out of the magazines too? This kind of stuff really bugs me. They look like articles, and take up 4-5 pages in a magazine, but except for the word "Advertisement" appearing in small at the top of the article, they look just like articles. I can understand this happening in crappy tabloids, but I see it more often in news magazines. It's really quite terrible when companies try to hide their articles under the guise of a magazine article. It's deceiving to the public, and it makes it really annoying to try to find the real articles in a magazine.

Re:Better than government news stories (1)

crazy_monkey (708922) | more than 7 years ago | (#16852024)

something the current administration has been found to do.

And going back _14_ years. As I mentioned in the earlier /. discussion for Fake News Stories Probed [slashdot.org], check out the 1995 documentary 'Spin' [imdb.com] to see some early examples of this type of fake news being broadcast during the run-up to the 1992 election.

Corporations == 21st Century Barons (5, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850630)

Has anyone else noticed that at every turn corporations again and again attempt to subvert the powers of the state and twist both public opinion and the law to their own benefit. In many cases, large corporations behave like small, independant countries or baronies, accountable to no one but themselves and largely immune from reprecussion. Only the state can realistically challenge their authority, and even then only with considerable effort and expense.

The situation in many ways resembles the old medieval baronies, who quarralled and feuded amoung themselves, and methaphoricall and literally stamped on the faces of the general population. The state/king had only limited ability to exercise control and essentially each barony was a virtual state within a state. In many cases, different parts of a country could be at war with one another, or with the monarchy.

In case anyone thinks this is a bit far fetched, consider this. What if MegaCorp(TM), drove up to your house one day and towed away your car on some flimsy legal pretense? Barons and Lords did this kind of thing all the time. What can you do? It's getting to the point that the police will not even dare to investigate large corporations with their armies of lawyers. Your ability to conclude a successful suit before you grow old and die is also ever decreasing.

You get a lot of SciFi where in the furture, corporations rule everything. Is this really so far fetched? If they have more de facto power and influence than the nation states in which they reside, then what is to stop them, like the old barons before them, from simply all but forming states of their own? Maybe Richelieu's reforms will be rolled back, just in a different form.

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16850730)

You can tell what a society deems the most important based on the size of the buildings erected for it. For much of the Middle Ages, churches would be the largest buildings, with giant cathedrals constructed as demonstrations of the church's power.

At some point following the Renaissance, government buildings became the largest buildings. No longer would the town church be the largest building, but instead the local government building would be the largest. The state had become the largest power.

Who do the largest buildings we erect today represent? The most powerful and important entities create the largest buildings. When you see a city skyline, what makes up most of the largest buildings?

Can you even see city hall in most modern city skylines?

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16851048)

I should correct this. By "largest" I actually meant "tallest". Anyone can build a large building - just connect a whole bunch of small buildings together. Large, sprawling buildings aren't a sign of power.

Tall buildings, on the other hand, require the height of a society's technological and engineering skills. Only the most important of a society can afford to hire the best and the brightest of their society to figure out how to build a tall building. The most important and influential aspects of a society will have the tallest buildings.

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (4, Insightful)

hugzz (712021) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851568)

Um maybe it isn't what society deems to be the most important, but what has the most money. I wouldn't be surprised if religion used to have the most money, and then government had the most money, and now business has the most money. It takes money to build big buildings!

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (2, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851970)

Um maybe it isn't what society deems to be the most important, but what has the most money.

And why do certain groups end up with the most money?

Because consciously or unconsciously, directly (by forking over cash) or indirectly (through public policy), people direct the flow of money towards them.

If one group has the most money, that's exactly because society deems them to be the most important.

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16850742)

"What if MegaCorp(TM), drove up to your house one day and towed away your car on some flimsy legal pretense?"

Build up a large credit card bill and you can find out yourself.
It's only when you have no money that you realise how powerless poverty makes you.

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16850782)

Shadowrun here we come!

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (3, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850816)

Thats not totally true. When you have no money, you become a lot more powerful. You have the same amont of influence as someone with very little, but you no longer have the weakness of having something to lose. Take a look at the McLibel case [wikipedia.org]. The defendents had no money, so nothing to lose from a protracted legal case and a judgement against them. If they had a house and savings then that would have been at risk.

national debt anyone? (2, Funny)

deevnil (966765) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850988)

Build up a large credit card bill and you can find out yourself. It's only when you have no money that you realise how powerless poverty makes you.
You mean like the national debt?

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850780)

"You get a lot of SciFi where in the furture, corporations rule everything. Is this really so far fetched? If they have more de facto power and influence than the nation states in which they reside, then what is to stop them, like the old barons before them, from simply all but forming states of their own? Maybe Richelieu's reforms will be rolled back, just in a different form"

It happened some time ago. You've basically described the present situation. Take here for instance, as Royalty lost mosts of its power to the state, the state in turn has lost most of its power to the multi-nationals. The leaders of which once a year, meet up with the various heads of gov and tell them what their policys are going to be. The push for globalization being one such example. You see in order to maximum profits it's necessary to dismantle the nation state and have a homogenous consumer market from pole to pole. Everyone watching the same movies, wearing the same bling uniform and buying the same gadgets.

Corporations gaining power == fascism (4, Insightful)

nietsch (112711) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850890)

Most usians may not be familiar with it, but fascism at it's core is the joining of political and corporate powers. Both Italy and Germany in the 30s had huge corporate blocks that had a lot of political power. That may give you some pause next time you see all the 'campaign donations' that flow one way. What do you think flows the other way?

(oh and mods: please show your immaturiy to mod something down when you don't agree with it)

Re:Corporations gaining power == fascism (3, Insightful)

ElephanTS (624421) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851306)

People don't seem to know that 'fascism' was the socio-economic paradigm of choice in the 20's and 30's. It's equivalent (or nearest) today is the 'free market economy'. Of course you're quite right about the US - the merger of state and corporation is technically fascism (tied together with the biggest propaganda machine the world has ever seen: the media). I think we're just in the 'benign' part of this new fascism and the next 10 years will begin to reveal the more sinister aspects of it.

Re:Corporations gaining power == fascism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16851488)

When writing your post, did you seriously believe that what you were writing was in anyway insightful? I mean, come on... with lines like this:

tied together with the biggest propaganda machine the world has ever seen: the media


Sounds like someone is in their freshman year of college...

Re:Corporations gaining power == fascism (3, Interesting)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851976)

How he sounds doesn't make it any less true...

I would say the media is an unwitting propaganda machine but a propaganda machine no less. It is a (mostly) free media so there is no reason that any individual cannot use the media for their own propaganda...assuming they can fund their own publicity/marketing department. So the media devolves more or less to be the mouthpiece of those with money (power) - government and coporations.

Those points of view that do not have the resources to outshout other points of view do not get represented.

"The media".... not corporations? (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16852090)

The media, at least mass media, are by their very definition and size required to be corporations by themselves. The difference to "normal" corporations is that the goods they sell are information.

Or opinion.

In a democracy, you cannot rule against the people. Or so you're told in school. Actually, you cannot rule against the public opinion. If that opinion is based on information and facts, and people finding their own opinions, this is actually a good thing.

That's not the reality today, though.

Public opinion is made and shaped by the media. You're told what you're supposed to hear, you're shown what you're supposed to see and more often than not, you're also told what you're supposed to think and believe because "that's the public opinion". To support it you often get to see some statistics that make the statistician in me cringe, because you can see easily how crooked they are sometimes.

And hey, if "the people" believe that, how can it be wrong? 10000 say yes, you say no, now who's more likely wrong? You? Or 10000 others?

There's a carefully crafted and delicate balance of power (and money) between government, corporations and media (corporations). You, the voter, don't matter anymore. You're being shifted around and moved, statistically dissected and examined to see what spin would make you vote this or the other way.

Re:Corporations gaining power == fascism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16851522)

No, we Americans are all too familiar with it. We had to help rescue those nations. Hopefully, over the course of the next 2 years, Al Qaeda will not attack. I suspect that the next attempt will be let through again, which will give W. the context to convert us to militia rule. If so, please send help.

Governments (2, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850900)

Not only can the corporations bully the little guy, they can bully the Government. After all, some of these corporations are global in scale, and have economic resources that dwarf those of many countries. I think that's why Microsoft only got a slap on the wrist in their anti-monopoly case aa while back.

Re:Governments (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851326)

No Microsoft got a slap on the wrist because you had an election at the end of the trial, and the nature of the US elections requires massive amount of money which Microsoft had.

They didn't have to bully anyone, the bought their way out.

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (1)

gm0e (872436) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851080)

... corporations again and again attempt to subvert the powers of the state and twist both public opinion and the law to their own benefit. In many cases, large corporations behave like small, independant countries or baronies, accountable to no one but themselves ...

According to Milton Friedman they are accountable solely to their shareholders. He lays it out pretty clearly in The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits [colorado.edu].

I don't personally buy into Friedman's reasoning but based on news like this I suspect an awful lot of executive boards and marketing departments do. This mentality won't change for a long time. For now, the real problem is the integrity of the so called "journalists" who present these prepackaged news-vertisements as legitimate news.

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (1)

kypper (446750) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851130)

The fundamental concepts behind Milton Friedman's economics have encouraged the short term, profit-maximizing solutions that are now rampant within the majority of our large corporations. I honestly don't give a damn about the shareholders; the company's duty is to its customers first, its employees second, and the shareholders a distant third.

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (2, Insightful)

Optikschmoptik (971793) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851092)

I know there are a lot of sincere libertarians on this site, and I sympathize with the libertarian idea (breifly, get the government off our backs). But this is what always gets me. If we just deregulate, it leaves a power vacuum, and we're left with these other entities governing us instead. Private, unelected oligarchs get to be in charge, and no one 'gets them off your back' if they decide that getting on your back is going be more profitable.

VNRs seem to be a symptom of this. There's no law, that I know of (or that I could find cited in either article), forcing stations to disclose a 3rd-party PR puff-piece. In the same department, what is there to discourage corporate conflicts of interest in general between the larger corporations and their news companies (i.e. between selling ads and promoting journalism)? Really, I'm asking, is there anything?

On the other hand, we do have the internet. I doubt incidents like 'macaca' would get any traction without this big, unregulated, free-for-all of journalism. So let's pretend the market stays totally 'unregulated' for the next 10 years, and AT&T manages to dominate the entire ISP market in, say North Carolina. And they decide that all forum posts, sites, videos and emails critical of Sen. Dole (who happens to be in a close re-election race) violate their Terms Of Service, so they get second-tier delivery, or dropped entirely from their routers and servers. Effectively, it's the pre-internet information landscape all over again, but without those pesky equal-time regulations. Still no government regulation of the internet, but would you feel freer? What, besides faith in (free market == personal freedom) makes you think this wouldn't happen?

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (1)

ElephanTS (624421) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851242)

You get a lot of SciFi where in the furture, corporations rule everything.

Actually we are already there. Corporate power transcends national boundaries now for instance. When I was growing up I read a great deal of SciFi and it staggers me how much has come to pass.

Capitalism vs Democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16851606)

Not to start a huge flame war but I think this raises the issue of how modern capitalism which is reflected in the institution of the Corporation has an impact on modern democracies.

The Corporation as an institution focuses on one thing; to benefit itself (profit). The classical theorists would argue that making a profit in the free market would coincide with the common good. However the idealized free market is not a real world example and in real world examples we find a "clustering" effect where economic power becomes consolidated with a very few. Therefore they act only to benefit a select minority.

Democracy in its modern form via representative governments has basically three basic premises; transparency of government, accountability of the government and the equal protection of the rights of all citizens. The role of the government is to provide for its citizens solutions through policy over matters of importance to its citizenry. But also to protect the rights of minorities over the majority.

In these two structures we have two very distributions of power. In the Corporation power is held by the top percentile. In Democracy power is distributed more cleanly, representatives and government officials wield more power by the nature of their office however they are bound by the rule of law. Also in a functioning democracy these officials are never in power for too long and are accountable to the public (elections). The basic incongruence of these power structures, the Corporation and the Democratic State, leads to a conflict.

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851728)

What if MegaCorp(TM), drove up to your house one day and towed away your car on some flimsy legal pretense?



Hasn't this happened before ? Or does it make much of a difference that the corp has to go to the government first, present a business plan, and then the government takes away your property, crying "eminent domain", and hands it over to the corp ?

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (1)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851926)

Or does it make much of a difference that the corp has to go to the government first, present a business plan, and then the government takes away your property, crying "eminent domain", and hands it over to the corp ?

In such a case, does the corporation in question deserve the lion's share of the blame? No, although they may be a villain. The blame lies with the government, the courts, and in ourselves.

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (1)

bri2000 (931484) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851800)

And then you have the other kind of sci-fi dystopia where it's the state that exerts totalitarian control over its citizens...

Not to disagree with but, while your penultimate paragraph is certainly true, it's equally true that if the government or any of its agencies were to decide to harass you for some reason you'd have even less chance of redress. I think focusing on large corporations misses the point that the rights of the individual are threatened by large, well funded organisations of any sort and, despite what a lot of people think, the state is still the largest and richest of all those organisations. In the UK, for example, I could be made to dissappear to 28 days (soon, it seems, to be 90), with no judicial review and it would be a criminal offence for anyone to report what had happened to me. I've never heard of any corporation doing that.

No reason you should believe me, but I work with a lot of people of the sort who feature as players in the "corporations are taking over the world" type conspiracy theories and, in my experience, they're greedy and selfish but absolutely terrified of what will happen if they go to far and the state finds out what they're up to. Even more so since the Enron trials and the extradition of the NatWest Three. They all understand that, in the end, the state, with its police forces, standing armies and weapons of mass destruction has far greater capacity to project power and inflict violence than any company.

This does, though, beg the question of whether the state can be suborned by an individual corporation. My view is that, at least at present, it can't be because there are such a large number of companies with differing interests lobbying governments that their efforts neutralise each other, at least to some extent.

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851844)

Well, when you consider the Chamber of Commerce gets 100K from every corporate donor...and that's on the low end...business has a lot of money to make sure enforcement is lax.

This isn't exactly new. When Clinton proposed universal health care it was HMO's and drug companies lining up to throw money at influencing public opinion against it.

Unless we come up with a way of creating a more intelligent and discerning general population...and I wouldn't hold my breath on that...anyone with a big enough budget to afford a negative campaign is going to be able to smear every good idea that some business group wants to see killed. The only other possible solution is to change the perception that a corporation is an artificial person with an absolute right to free speech. Restrictions they would probably then skirt by creating and funding lobbying groups separate from the corporation to promote its interests. Many of them do that anyway to avoid being publicly linked to "research" that shows there is no stinking global warming.

It's a tricky question. How to level the playing field when the corporate world can spend investor dollars in the defense of their own interests but still give them ability to present their side of things. Not sure there are any easy answers. Besides influencing the news and public opinion many corporations are also paying for scientific research results that support the conclusions they want. And there are plenty of research organizations, public and private, willing to compromise the results in the interest of getting the money, which they justify by saying the money will support other research that will balance out the evil of selling out.

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851934)

" When Clinton proposed universal health care it was HMO's and drug companies lining up to throw money at influencing public opinion against it."

I'm glad they did. Hillary's plan to destroy health care (which actually included jail terms for seeing your doctor without government approval) was definitely not in the public interest. Health care is just too important to have the government take it all over and trash it.

Re:Corporations == 21st Century Barons (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851906)

Worse yet, they're fleeting. They don't like your kind of legal system? They move away. They're nearly intangible, and what hurts more, their business revenue is hardly really taxable. The average corporation pays about half the tax (in percent, not in dollar) that you do.

It's also fairly hard to hold them liable for something. How do you imprison a corporation? What Sony did with the rootkit would have warranted a jail sentence in some countries. It has (almost) happened to juvenile "hackers" before [crime-research.org]. Instead they got off the hook with a laughable "agreement".

It's already "good practice" in the shadier areas of some businesses (for example the porn biz) to put up some front man who is nominally in charge (and gets paid well for doing essentially). If something falls down on the company, he goes to jail and the biz keeps rolling.

Now that some countries start putting more pressure on the heads of corporations (Enron comes to mind), corporations first of all move their HQs to countries that are much more lenient on corporations with shady practices, and they replace their heads with figure heads. So far, this isn't widespread practice yet, but as soon as the idea kicks in, they move essentially outside of the grasp of the legal body of whatever country they reside in.

Hello ! (2, Interesting)

moseman (190361) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850662)

Shit, they are still showing political stories disguised as news too. kdawson likes those.

Real Story...? (4, Insightful)

LlamaDragon (97577) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850672)

Why not link to the the real article [prwatch.org] instead of, or in addition to, the story about the article?

Re:Real Story...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16851104)

Maybe because it's already linked to in the Democracy Now article?

what real news? .. (4, Interesting)

rs232 (849320) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850674)

There isn't any real news. Don't you realize it yet. Stories are generated and fed to the media by the PR departments of the various interests. How it works is a bunch of 'journalists' sit in a room and generate feel good stories about the establishment and negative ones about whoever we happened to be currently at war with. You see it doesn't really matter if what is reported happened, all is required is the 'facts' be spun in favour of the winners. Like when Bush recently legalised the torture of prisoners, NBC reported this as Bush banning torture.

Re:what real news? .. (2, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850754)

There isn't any real news. Don't you realize it yet. Stories are generated and fed to the media by the PR departments of the various interests. How it works is a bunch of 'journalists' sit in a room and generate feel good stories about the establishment and negative ones about whoever we happened to be currently at war with.

Don't laugh - I knew a guy who worked for one of the weekly tabloids (hint - they encouraged people to subscribe by giving away 50-cent lottery tickets way back when), and they had to come up with goofy stories every week, so they made them up. Improbable stories ... They made up one of a 90-year-old woman giving birth to a baby, stuck a random name and state on it ... and sure enough, there actually WAS a 90-year-old woman by that name in that state. She sued, they delayed the lawsuit ("Hey, she'll die before we get to court ..." and when she stubbornly refused to just lay down and die, they had to settle a decade later.

So yes, a lot of the stories you see "in the news" at the checkout counter are pure fiction.

Re:what real news? .. (4, Informative)

XorNand (517466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850848)

For anyone who hasn't yet read it, I highly recommend that you read Paul Graham's blog post entitled "The Submarine" [paulgraham.com]. It's a very interesting insight into how PR firms craft the fake news that you describe.

Re:what real news? .. (1)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851946)

I wouldn't be surprised if he works for a PR company. While it certainly could be genuine, and he does make some points that I think are very much true, ending the article with the tone that "stuff online is true" was a bad thing to do. Is this an ancient article? He says he thinks bloggers will be their next target. News flash: Lots of bloggers work for PR firms now. Lots of people are paid to "work at home to make money$$$$$!!!" and many of those jobs are "infiltration" jobs for forums and other things, or to just set up slanted blogs.

Oh, yeah? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16850698)

I think it would make more sence these days to point out news that really is news.

How about a this-is-really-news and this-is-really-news-for-nerds departments? Slashdot?

Recycling: Not Just for Evil Corporations (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16850752)

But also for other special interest groups we're supposed to like.

It's nice to see that somebody else finally noticed. Glenn Reynolds was writing about this problem back in 2002:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,42050,00.html [foxnews.com]

Recycling is supposed to be a good thing, so you'd think that media organizations would be proud when they do it. But in fact, they tend to keep it quiet.

I'm not talking about aluminum cans here, but about the tendency of media organizations to turn press releases and written-to-order opinion pieces into apparently objective accounts. This happens all the time, partly because of media laziness, and partly because of ingenuity on the part of the various advocacy groups that depend on media coverage to advance their agendas and promote their fundraising campaigns.

The first part of this formula, media laziness, was demonstrated by journalism students here at the University of Tennessee a few years ago. They produced a fake press release for a non-existent student group opposed to political correctness and sent it to various news organizations. Some ran the item; some even embellished the report of an event that never happened with additional details that weren't in the phony press release. None called the contact number (which was genuine) or did anything else to check its validity. Yet when they were exposed, their response was to call the experiment "unethical."

http://instapundit.com/archives/021755.php [instapundit.com]

News stories, to a degree seldom appreciated by the general public, are often the product of press releases generated by trade associations and interest groups. Often those releases are converted into news stories by the simple expedient of placing a reporter's byline on top. Television news stories (especially those appearing on local stations) are often supplied fully produced, with blank spots left for the local news reporter to insert commentary that makes the story appear his or her own. Opinion columns are often "placed" by businesses or interest groups to support a particular point of view -- often, they are even written by those groups and then run with the byline of distinguished individuals, or even regular commentators, who have barely read the piece, much less written it. Indeed, the Sasso "attack video" was something of this sort, for the journalists who broke the Biden/Kinnock story did not at first disclose their source.

Most readers and viewers have small appreciation of how little of what they see on television or read in newspapers and magazines is original with the reporters, editors, and producers involved. Yet in fact news organizations are highly dependent on predigested information from public relations firms, government officials, and advocacy groups, information that is often passed on to their readers and viewers with no indication that it is not original. That problem is not new, but it has gotten worse in recent years. . . .

Although a "video news release" is still more expensive to produce than a standard paper press release, they have become much more common. According to a recent poll, seventy-five percent of TV news directors reported using video news releases at least once per day.

Ric Romero has the scoop (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850756)

Corporations that pay media companies money sometimes affect their programming content. More at a 11.

Re:Ric Romero has the scoop (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851792)

The content of the news at 11:

There are apparently some Channels and Stations which improve their profit margin by not buying newswire content and not doing original field reporting. They replace it by canned, pre-payed content which shows on their balance sheet as profit instead of the loss incurred by those pesky field crews (which you have to employ as well).

Television......what a waste. (2, Interesting)

skeezix-the-cat (726758) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850784)

The trite reply to this article is -DON'T watch it-. I threw out my TV in 2000; I have a Mac, w/ great DVD capability, I rent stuff that's really great --Ken Burns stuff (jazz..), The Sopranos (isn't organized crime SO MUCH MORE interesting than the disorganized variety?), HBO and Showtime specials..... Other than that, TV is a wasteland. Go re-rent Clooney's 'Goodnight and Good Luck', pay attention to this gracious man's words about television. Show your kids.... But mostly, TV's PURE drek. DREK!! Makes kids stupid, and adults, even stupider. DON'T DO IT!! Resist your corporate overlords!! cheers, skeezix-the-cat.

Re:Television......what a waste. (5, Funny)

MikeXpop (614167) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850944)

Pssh, you still use a computer? I threw my computer out in 1999 and haven't looked back. I have a library filled with great books, and I can borrow the others from the local library for FREE. The internet is such DREK. Makes kids stupid, and adults stupider. Resist your telecom overlords!!

Cheers,
Someone-holier-than-thou

Re:Television......what a waste. (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851588)

Pssh, you still read books? I threw my books out in 1984 and haven't looked back. I have a world of billboards to tell me what to think and I can read them any time I go outside for FREE. The printed word is suck drek. Resist your printing press overlords!

Re:Television......what a waste. (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850964)

I hate to use bodily fluids to extinguish your catherine wheel but there is a helluva lot of product placement within movies these days anyway - so just by watching DVDs, you're not escaping the corporate brainwashing.

Though I do agree that TV is mostly drek - although I consider myself fortunate in living in the UK and having the advert-free BBC TV and radio.

Corporate Propaganda Still On the News (3, Interesting)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850802)

One factor that seems to be overlooked is viewer ability to smell a rat and subsequently not be taken in. I feel more people realize the segment is a crafted fake, versus a genuine news spot, than the agencys doing the monitoring assume. I know I've seen these and have been able to tell, and if I can detect the fraud, so can others.

Want something to really worry about in terms of broadcast hyjinks? MTV is using the tried and true subliminal 'power of suggestion' in various spots in their broadcasts in Asia. I happened to be capturing TV via a DVR one evening, and when I played back my sample via the jog wheel, I was able to clearly see a text message inside a faint white rectangular box, overlaid into a short commercial for an upcoming show. It came and went quickly...'progress is now - Fridays on MTV'...not long enough to spot unless you were paying close attention at that moment, but long enough to be captured by the brain for subliminal decoding...ouch. MTVs' idea or broadcast on the behest of some agency, perhaps?

Re: Corporate Propaganda Still On the News (2, Insightful)

Nyph2 (916653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851044)

Want something to really worry about in terms of broadcast hyjinks? MTV is using the tried and true subliminal 'power of suggestion' in various spots in their broadcasts in Asia. I happened to be capturing TV via a DVR one evening, and when I played back my sample via the jog wheel, I was able to clearly see a text message inside a faint white rectangular box, overlaid into a short commercial for an upcoming show. It came and went quickly...'progress is now - Fridays on MTV'...not long enough to spot unless you were paying close attention at that moment, but long enough to be captured by the brain for subliminal decoding...ouch. MTVs' idea or broadcast on the behest of some agency, perhaps?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subliminal_messaging# Effectiveness [wikipedia.org]
"Certain types of subliminal perception (hypnosis, for example) are known to affect the perceiver without any conscious knowledge of the effect on his part. However, there is no strong evidence that the types of messages discussed in this article (ones embedded into normal objects such as posters or movies) are at all effective."

That's only the wiki quote on the subject. IANAP (but my mom is, so I hear no end of the stuff 2nd hand) but this is way beyond no strong evidence of it being effective. It's -no- evidence of any statistically significant effect in any serious study i.e. as close as you can get to proving it's not effective in any way we we've tried to do it.

Now, to the topic of the article on the other hand, while many people can recognise stories like these as corporately funded, studies do show stories like these at minimum confuse the issue in statistically significant amounts. i.e. it's worth the companies to spend their money doing things like this rather than directly address the root issues they're trying to spread propaganda about.
Ontop of this, despite some of this being found out, it doesnt cause enough public backlash on average to harm the company more than it helps. Some don't get found at all, some create a very minor stir, I dont know of any companies getting a major backlash against tactics like this, but if there have been any they're a minority to the point of it still being a sensible buisiness policy to take the risk.
Until this changes, companies will continue to make business decisions like this because it's simply cheaper, including possible damages from backlash, to effect change in the population & the laws, than to actually fix their problems.

This isn't news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16850860)

Propaganda is as old as the printing press. Back in the days if you had political aspirations, you got editorials into the newspaper. This gave you exposure and the opportunity to push an agenda. These days it's much more sophisticated -- you've got people with absolutely no desire to be a public servant getting paid pretty decent money to cater a political agenda (Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, etc.). Since the people they most like to criticize have no power, they've moved beyond being mere editorialists to being Republican idea-brokers.

Brief aside: While that's going to sound partisan, think about it. You've got one party that wants to tax the rich and one party that wants to cut taxes to the rich. (a) If you're rich, who're you going to side with? (b) List the number of CEOs for companies out there that aren't rich. Of course there are exceptions, George Soros I guess being a big one. Still, on the whole, propagandizing for the conservative movement is much older and more universal than the Republican/Democrat duality.

Back on topic: What's news isn't that we're being targetted with propaganda. What's news is that we're THINKING it's news, when really it's been happening all along. Sort of scary that alot of people believe that propaganda is all silly WW2 posters and such and a thing of the past. It's sophisticated. Like the Devil, it's greatest victory is convincing the world that it doesn't exist -- and there are a LOT of people who don't believe propaganda exists. I guess, because, to realize it means to admit we've been suckered by it, and nobody wants to think of themselves as a sucker.

Propaganda is all that comes out of 'the box' (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16850876)

When the news is over, you then get Democrat party talking points andpolicy thinly disguised as sitcoms and Dramas (west wing, etc)

Re:Propaganda is all that comes out of 'the box' (0, Troll)

Omnivorax (954787) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851296)

When the news is over, you then get Democrat party talking points andpolicy thinly disguised as sitcoms and Dramas (west wing, etc)

If you're talking about the major US political party, you mean "Democratic Party". Accidentally leaving off the "-ic" makes you seem lazy and ignorant, and deliberately doing so labels you a knee-jerk partisan shill.

Not that we should expect anything better from an AC...

Re:Propaganda is all that comes out of 'the box' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16851968)

There's very little democratIC about democrats

Propaganda in its own right... FUDD (1)

pease1 (134187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850894)

In the hurricane example, a local news reporter clips out quotes legit a news source from the PR supplied video and wraps her own stuff around it.

This isn't any different then what happens every day in newspapers when reporters lift quotes from company press releases. If the reporter is worth a shit, they will add their own sources to it, but not their own spin. In some cases, this might be the only way to access a national level source who is difficult to reach, let alone film, especially with limit travel budget. But many, with the power in hand, will add their own spin. The lie occurs when the reporter does this, but doesn't disclose their own (or stations/newspapers) agenda.

You can piss on Rush, Sean H., and the air america talkers all you want, but they fully disclose their agenda. The old main stream media hasn't realized this yet.

That can't be (1)

tade (156618) | more than 7 years ago | (#16850990)

No way! News are good. Like that important piece of nerd news that you can now see corporate logos from space. (though it was still a bit unclear if they have a drive in lane in the orbit)

Those people are wingnut morons! (1)

Voltar (973532) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851026)

Those Workers World Party mouthpieces over there in their little firehouse do nothing but pass wingnut conspiracy theories as news. Their biggest story? Dick Cheney flew two cargo planes (armed with military pods) into the twin towers while surrounded by Jewish bankers in the sub-basement of the NYSE, after which the CIA detonated explosives which were planted two days prior during a mysterious fire drill. The freemasons then stole all of the gold from the WTC vaults so as to further fund their worldwide domination. Other great feats of DN/WBAI? Accusing Rudy Guliani of trying to keep WBAI shut down after 9/11 due to the dust. Afterwards they bitched 24/7 about letting them in too soon and not doing an environmental impact study and endangering their lives. Sneaking on to the NYSE floor during an invitation-only party and harassing guests. Actively supporting dictators like Kim Jong Il. Bantering as nausium about Islam is so wonderful and peaceful and misunderstood...I have yet to see Jews and Christians fly planes into large buildings, though. Let the flames begin!

They teach it in schools... (1)

Erwos (553607) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851040)

When I was in college, I had a part time job as a classroom tech. You see, we had fancy, computerized classrooms that the profs really weren't trained to use. When they ran into issues, I had to help them.

One of the classes I did this for was a sophmore or junior level public relations class. The technique of handing the news something that looks like a news video, but is really just a corporate press release, was explicitly covered in this class. Not only was it covered, but it was encouraged as a legitimate and smart method of getting the word out.

In other words, the underlying problem might not just be corporate greed, or the laziness of news organizations - it could be that this kind of public relations is still being taught as appropriate in schools. Time to beef up the ethics training in the college of communications?

Watch: Network (1977) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16851230)

... and when you're done with that, maybe you'll remember that all TV News is Television first. That's why we don't call it News TV.

A New Study!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16851274)

Thank God! Now, we know the truth.

Care less (1)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851362)

I don't really care if they air these VNRs as long as they have something like a box onscreen at all times throughout it identifying it as an advertisement so I know I should change the channel. And that CERTAINLY needs to be displayed at the beginning, but I'm more of a fan of making it illegal to not show it during the entire length because if someone starts watching in the middle of it they'd have no idea it was paid for.

This is something that happens in print too with advertorials. Recently in PC Gamer there was a huge section in there about cellphone games. I'm in advertising, and thus have pretty finely honed ad senses so I could tell pretty quickly it was sponsored by Cingular, but the section was HUGE, and the ONLY indication I had of this was the TINY TINY black text on dark background on the very front page that said "ADVERTISEMENT". Absolutely disgusting.

If you find this sort of crap on TV or in print, feel free to call the station/publisher and let them know your feelings about being misled by their content and explain how you are going to be perusing their competitors media instead.

If only it were just T.V. (1)

bealzabobs_youruncle (971430) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851382)

Product placement in the movies, advertising within video game, every public gathering space smeared with corporate logos; there is no limit to what corporations have bought their way in to.

Up until election day last week the company that employs me sent emails every day to advise me on how I should vote to best impact the company's wishes. Every fall I endure coercion to give to United Way, including a meeting for those of us who opt out getting a special "sit down" to help us understand why it is important. Every spring I am "encouraged" to participate in the company sponsored "walk for this" or "pledge for that". Note that company policy strictly prohibits me from visiting political web sites, handing out political infromation, engaging in excessive political/social/religious debate or soliciting for any charity on company time or property.

I can no longer refuse company provided health insurance without providing written proof that I get some coverage from my spouses employer? Alcohol is now banned from the company "holiday" party because the company wants to shield itself from any risk, and of course protect our health as well.

Some of you will ask why I stay; simple answer, the pay check is fat and the work somewhat engaging. If either of those change, I am out of here, but for the time being... After 20 years of working I have come to the conclusion that all large companies act like this, and while some idealist will pop in and tell me to go work for a small company; mega-corp is where the money is for the most part.

I wish T.V. was the only problem....

Something to consider (0, Offtopic)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851430)

This organization calls itself "Democracy Now!" yet fawns over Fidel Castro [democracynow.org] as if he really were leading a democratic government.

"Democracy Now" is really Democracy? No! (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851698)

They also love the fascist dictator of Venezuela, and their coverage of the Middle East is downright antisemitic.

Re:"Democracy Now" is really Democracy? No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16852136)

Not agreeing with Israeli policy is not "anti semitic".

Re:Something to consider (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851772)

From my reading of the site, it is strongly American. IOW, why do you care what happens on some not-so-distant island?

Cuba has one of the top health systems in the world. They have low crime level. Well, they do not have democracy. But, you know, many people would exchange the populism of democracy to sane and stable dictatorship.

One of the top promises of democracy (and advantage over monarchy/feudalism) is that government is rotated, thus minimizing probability of crazy reaching (and holding for too long) power. But let be realistic. Dictatorship Cuba has prospering social system and doesn't initiate and doesn't intervene in international conflicts. But all the populism and democracy didn't stopped US from becoming empire and top world aggressor.

To me as foreigner Cuba looks more peaceful and friendly place, than business crazy, litigious, war-minded USA.

Re:Something to consider (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16852026)

"Cuba has one of the top health systems in the world."

Does this include the fact that they treat being infected with HIV as criminal justice matter (go to prison)? Their system is also not "one of the top", being mere 40 out of 190. That's the upper 1/4, but not tops. You have to wonder about it being ranked that high. It is ahead of New Zealand.... however, can you find one person who would rather go to a Cuban hospital than go to one in New Zealand? There's also the matter of how the Cuban government, since it controls everything and limits access to investigators, has great leaway to make up fake numbers to make things look better than it is.

"They have low crime level."

That's what you can get in a police state/dictatorship. The crime level is similarly low in North Korea.

Re:Something to consider (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16852092)

"Dictatorship Cuba has prospering social system and doesn't initiate and doesn't intervene in international conflicts."

They have a real bad record of this, actually. They intervened in Nicaragua and caused a war there during the 1980s that killed tens of thousands. Similar in El Salvador. Angola in Africa fought to free itself from a European colonial power: Cuba intervened against Angola. Currently, they are backing fascist movements in Colombia and Venezuela.

We're misdirecting our focus. (1)

serial_crusher (591271) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851460)

The part we should be truly offended about is that this sort of thing works. People watch their local news, and say "gee, if Asian Reporter Trisha Takinowa says global warming is horseshit, it must be!" I don't see anything wrong with bias in the news, so long as all the facts are presented.

Even more insidious (1)

Ferment (168584) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851552)

Even more insidious is the media's tenancy to state as fact corporate assertions. Its worse because I believe it is much easier for JQP to swallow these whole. For example, in how many newscasts have you heard something like "the music industry lost 8 bajillion dollars to piracy last year.", with no mention of how everyone and his brother outside of the music industry disputed that claim.

Way to go, Captain Obvious! (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851580)

Work that anti-business /. meme for fun and karma!

Hot on the heels of telling us these things are shown by "News Corp., Tribune, and Disney," Captain Obvious wants us to know that they're paid for by "the country's biggest corporations." Whoa. No kidding, Sherlock. What next? Water Wet, film at 11:00?

The only people with money to produce this crap are big corporations. It's pretty unlikely that Joe's Pizza is going to be able to pay for an advertisement disguised as a hard-hitting news story on the benefits of eating pepperoni. It's equally unlikely that big business is going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on these things and then air them on Public Access Channel 9.

I swear that the stories here are getting more and more like tabloid articles written by four-year-olds after one too many servings of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs. I suppose that with my high UID, I shouldn't be complaining about the decline and fall of slashdot, but it's hard to resist when stories like this are "news for nerds"

Thank You TASS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16851714)

I would like to thank ITAR-TASS for bringing this to our attention. This will help me separate the news from the capitolist propoganda. Long live comrade Stalin!!!

That's Why Streaming Video Is So Important (1)

cannuck (859025) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851734)

That's what video is so important on the Web. The Elite and their puppets (Rove, Bush et al) love....love to spin that the media is control by the Democrats - or controlled by the so-called Left (which of course doesn't exist (more spin)) but all the while, the Elite dominate all the media, everywhere. And brain wash millions ...... 50 million or so in the last election in the USA

And it's now so obvious that the Elite are spreading their bullshit onto the Web - with it's "Pay For Say" web sites - 1000s and 1000s of web sites.

What's even worse is Web users who believe everything they see on the Web - when folks here start quoting Wikipeeedia - then I know "we" are all in deep shit.

I don't know whethet to laugh and cry when I hear all over the Web - for example - from web site producers who think that movies or video on the Web - means animating magazine pages (to make them load as slow as possible!?). These same schlock site makers more often than not, then start yacking that "we" don't need more television on the Web because "we" have 1000s of channels to watch on regular TV...blah blah blah. Of course these web site killers all crapped in their pants when YouTube sold for 1.5 billion.Too bad YouTube uses Flash - which sucks...sucks badly. More schlock.

Band width needs to be preserved for true streaming of video on the Web. All web pages that simply use Flash to make magazine pages wiggle - needs to be banned! If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth millions of words. Even the dumb assed Fascist Republicans understand that.

Don't buy this... (1)

Phat_Tony (661117) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851754)

Corporate propaganda isnt' really still in the news. The giant anti-corporate propaganda industry produced and planted this story, and duped news outlets are reporting it. It's entirely untrue that any news outlet would run a story that was pla... nt... oh, wait... Darn.

Is this any diffrent? (1)

Dissman (997434) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851784)

Honestly, is this any different than a press release? I mean seriously, when i submit a press release on a slow news day, i can expect to find some to most of it copied verbatim into a news story the same day. Is this really any diffrent?

Also, what about places like CNN who *pay* al-queida for propaganda tapes and then air them? Why is this kind of thing OK to groups like Democracy Now? May that be against their political interests? hmm.

News for ratings, not for information (1)

eclectic4 (665330) | more than 7 years ago | (#16851842)

...which is why I listen to PRI/NPR. I would be overwhelmed with shock to see hour blocks devoted to true discussion of important topics by leaders in their field on both sides of a story on FOX, or CNN (don't get me started on the utter slop that is nightly local news). In between these discussions they report news via BBC WorldWide, which is one of the most respected, public driven news outlets on the planet.

I watch FOX on occasion for pure enjoyment in exercise. I can talk about all the things flashing on the screen for hours. It's quite fun. I love John Stewart's [crooksandliars.com] take on it...
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