The Center for Media and Democracy on Thursday identified 77 television stations across the United States that aired so-called VNRs without letting viewers know they were watching spin, not news.
To their credit, TV stations in Springfield did not air any VNRs, according to the report. But KFJX -- a Fox affiliate serving Pittsburg, Kan., and Joplin, Mo. -- aired one of the fake-news bits. So did WDAF in Kansas City and KTVI in St. Louis. All three stations are aligned with Fox.
From the report's executive summary:
TV stations not only aired entire VNRs without disclosure, but had local anchors and reporters read directly from the script prepared by the broadcast PR firm. KTVI-2 in St. Louis had their anchor introduce, and their reporter re-voice, a VNR produced for Masterfoods and 1-800 Flowers, following the script nearly verbatim ...
In almost all cases, stations failed to balance the clients' messages with independently-gathered footage or basic journalistic research. More than one-third of the time, stations aired the pre-packaged VNR in its entirety.