Maine Politics

From the Piscataqua to the St. John

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Maine Stations Reject "Packaged" News

An article in the New York Times last week once again brought attention to Video News Releases, clips created by government agencies that are designed to fit seamlessly into local news coverage. In a report today from the KJ, Maine's broadcasters swore off using these propagandizing videos.
"They need to go back to Journalism 101," [Jim Morris, news director at WABI in Bangor] said of the news directors who aired VNRs. [...]

"You have to have the ability to identify what is managed news and what is a hand-out," [WMTW news director George] Matz said. "(VNRs) could either be manipulating content, or they could be perceived as manipulating content." [...]

"We made value decisions years and years ago that we did not want to use (VNRs)," said Steve Thaxton, president and general manager at WCSH in Portland. "They've been peddled upon stations for eons."

I emailed Maine stations last week about this subject and got a similar response. This is what WVII general manager Michael Palmer had to say:
...honestly it is extraordinarily rare, despite what the NY Times may say, that any TV station actually uses the things. Oh sure, everyone gets them, but they, as a practical matter are RARELY used, and never here.

So, at least in Maine, you can trust what you see on TV.

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