No one minds when people send a press release to a TV station and they read it on the air. But what are you supposed to think when a company or government agency sends a video news release to a TV station and the station runs it as if it were original reporting?
This tactic is being done increasingly by vested interests with their own agendas to promote, as documented in the New York Times on March 13, 2005. And we’re not talking about small stations in Podunk. The report shows that stations in major markets are passing along VNRs are their own original work — or at least aren’t going to any great pains to tell viewers that the material was supplied by a vested interest.
In some respects, TV stations have only themselves to blame. They cut their news staffs, but still need to fill the time slot. VNRs are an answer made in heaven.
We could discuss how this impacts a free society, or raise questions about freedom of speech, or even debate if we are splitting hairs over newspapers that print earning reports word for word from press releases, but we won’t.
Instead, grasp the obvious. If TV wants VNRs and will run them, you should ask yourself: How can I create a VNR and get it on TV?
I’d suggest you call my friend Rick Frishman at Planned TV Arts for the ins and outs on how to create a VNR. You can reach him at 212-593-5845, firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell him I sent you.