The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, April 14, 2005

Little Strokes

This is why I got into the blog scene. Although I should have posted this on my blog, this is something I joined in on-- and it looks like it's paying some dividends.

Democracy in Action circulated a petition that was to go to the FCC demanding that the government no longer be allowed to circulate taxpayer-funded, phony 'news releases' to media outlets across the nation without stating that the piece was a product of the administration. Here's what they have to say about their efforts:

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday night, the Federal Communications Commission called on all television newscasters to clearly disclose the origin of video news releases (VNRs) used on their programs. "Listeners and viewers are entitled to know who seeks to persuade them with the programming offered over broadcast stations and cable systems," the FCC stated in a public notice unanimously approved by all four FCC commissioners.

The FCC issued the public notice in response to a "large number of requests" to investigate the use of VNRs, specifically citing the more than 40,000 concerned citizens who signed a petition circulated by Free Press and the Center for Media and Democracy. On March 21, the two groups filed a complaint (available at with the FCC, urging Chairman Kevin J. Martin to investigate news fraud and enforce existing laws against payola and the use of federal funds to create "covert propaganda."

"The broadcast industry's use of video news releases and other government- and corporate-funded fake news continues to enrage Americans," said Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press. "We welcome the FCC's statement and will continue to monitor local newscasts. Unless broadcasters take immediate action to cease or disclose their use of this material, we will pressure the government to take stronger action."

"Not labeling VNRs constitutes news fraud and violates the most basic ethical standards of journalism," said John Stauber, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy. "It's now time for TV news producers to own up their responsibility to the viewing public and fully disclose their use of fake news."

The FCC instructed all newscasters abide FCC sponsorship identification rules when they air "video news releases' (VNRs) and called for comments from license holders and cable operators about their use of VNRs.

"Recently tens of thousands of citizens contacted the FCC demanding an investigation into the failure of broadcasters to disclose their use of government-generated 'news' stories. They were right to do so," said FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps in a statement. "This Commission should investigate each such case. And it should strenuously enforce the rules against inadequate sponsorship identification."

Write letters, folks. A handful of fundamentalist Christians might be able to re-shape PBS, but 40,000 progressives can apparently make headway against government propaganda.