Tuesday, March 01, 2005

A DNR For VNRs?

In Jack Pitney's Politics of Journalism class, one of the terms on our final was "VNR." A VNR, short for "video news release" is like a press release - just on tape.

That was 1998.

Apparently, however, VNRs are news to the, uh, news. That they've been around quite awhile doesn't make them less sneaky, but it does mean media's being a bit fake in their shock over the news that Schwarzenegger's administration has used one to promote proposed changes in workers' administratively mandated break times.

A Chron article notes that Bay Area stations airing the report, added footage of Capitol protests against the proposed change.

I'm as tough on Schwarzenegger - and Bush, also hit with charges of VNR deception - as anyone, and I'm not necessarily arguing with the idea the VNRs are dangerous. But acting like this is a new phenomenon, refusing to turn the critcism inward to the hundreds of lazily constructed news articles that rely on press release supplied talking points, is just a lie.

An underlying lie doesn't excuse the administration, but it certainly helps tell the rest of the story.

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