Democracy Now!, a daily news program with Amy Goodman, recently took a look at Video News Releases (VNRs) put out by corporations and government agencies that local news programs often run as normal reporting. VNRs are biased, one-sided pieces of fake news that get passed off as reporting done by local reporters. What caught my ear is that the first clip Democracy Now! played from a VNR promoting ethanol production.
Democracy Now! was looking in depth at a recent Center for Media and Democracy study called “Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed.” Democracy Now! reported that at least five TV stations used the ethanol fake news/VNR from Siemens (produced by the PR company Medialink) in January. The VNR promoted Siemens’ automation systems used at ethanol plants around the country. Medialink used publicist Kate Brookes acting like a reporter to “report” the story. I have zero tolerance for this type of corporate malarkey. Using ethanol in automobiles is a promising technology, and citizens need real reporting to learn about the issue, not ventriloquist dummies saying whatever the highest bidder tells them to say.
PR Watch has a good round up of the ethanol VNR, along with the videos of the original VNR and its use on the local stations here. You can read more and watch the Democracy Now! show here

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