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PRSA Issues Weak Response to NY Times VNR Feature

This Sunday, a story ran in the N.Y. Times on how the government uses video news releases to sell their policy agenda through news broadcasters, who air the VNRs without acknowledging their source. The PRSA just released a pretty disappointing response to the story by putting the responsibility for disclosure squarely on the shoulders of the broadcasters, without acknowledging that VNRs do present valid disclosure challenges, and could certainly — in some ways — be considered unethical. Of course, when a print news media outlet runs a press release word for word under the byline of a reporter or “Staff,” it strikes me as equally misleading. On the other hand, providing access to VNRs on a company’s Web site is wholly appropriate, since it’s obvious to the viewer that the company produced, or in this case government agency, is the the source. Hopefully, this will give public relations firms another reason to start using online media centers and online press rooms more proactively.

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