Thursday, March 10, 2005

VNR Outrage Misplaced?

Patt Morrison at the LA Times wrote an open letter to Maria Shriver yesterday regarding a VNR that came out of the Guvernator's office and made it straight to air at five stations without edits. Morrison tells Shriver to "home-school" her husband "in Journalism 101."

Now granted, I can appreciate the concern around public funds being used for partisan purposes. And I understand the concern over the lack of any disclaimer in the VNR that notes the source. But instead of admonishing Shriver and Ahnold, shouldn't Morrison be castigating the various stations' news producers? They're the ones who decided to run the VNR without alteration or without checking the source. And they're the ones who went to J-school.

Does Morrison really expect the politicians to uphold the ethics of journalism while excusing her colleagues from the responsibility?

I'm also a bit confused about what exactly is so devious about a VNR in the first place.

Morrison says that with a VNR, "you just might seduce viewers from Crescent City to National City into thinking their little TV station has its very own reporter in Sacramento." Seems to me, then, that the TV station's producers are not being bullied by propoganda pushers, but are buying right in.

You can't blame pig farmers for making bacon - you have to blame yourself for gorging yourself into obesity. Any producer worth his salt knows what he's getting when a VNR arrives. Those that don't shouldn't be at the controls.

But the economic fact is that local stations don't have the funds to fill their broadcasts with all original content.

Just ask the folks at Sinclair Broadcast Group, whose television outlets reach nearly a quarter of the nation's homes with TVs. A recent New Yorker article pointed out that Sinclair's approach is often to buy a news station, strip the staff down to a skeleton crew, and then surround local weather and sports with segments that while resembling the format of typical local news, actually arise from their national headquarters. Oh, and by the way, most people don't see Sinclair's content as unbiased, either...

To me, it's a ton more disturbing when the media shows bias than when a politician does.

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  • I am doing a speech for one of my classes regarding what the media 'feeds' us as actual news (I am referencing VNR's in particular).. Would you mind if I took some quotes from your blog?

    By Blogger lise, at 9:03 PM  

  • Please feel free! Thanks for reading.

    By Blogger I, at 3:24 PM  

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