Who's At Fault If The FTC Is Positioning A Press Release As A News Story?

from the details,-details dept

Broadband Reports points us to a confusingly written story about supposedly "deceptive" tactics by the FTC in repurposing a press release as a news article for newspapers to run. Unfortunately, since the article itself isn't entirely clear, it sounds like the real problem isn't the FTC, but the newswire service, North American Precis Syndicate, that appears to take press releases and so-called "Video News Releases" (VNRs) and distribute them as if they were straight news stories. There are plenty of news sources that will reprint press releases (usually, though not always, making it clear that it's a press release). However, in this case, it sounds like (at least from the article's description) that North American Precis Syndicate reformats these press releases to make them seem less like press releases and more like straight news articles. So, this hardly seems like the fault of the FTC, but of North American Precis Syndicate and the news publications that rely on it for news.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    MichaelK, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 12:57am

    Ah, NAPS

    I remember using NAPS at the last tiny paper I worked at. We had to use it for filler for all those crap special sections advertising would sell that we didn't have enough editorial staff to generate real content for. Some of those special sections were actually all ads with the "news hole" filled entirely with NAPS advertorial content.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 5:28am

    Re: Ah, NAPS

    I hope you were not a writer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 5:41am

    I have worked with a lot of reporters. A significant number of them basically take press releases and publish them as stories. The reasons for this vary. Some are rushed with requirements to turn out certain quotas of material and they simply don't have time to check for other sides of the story. Frankly sometimes it is done out of laziness. And some reporters simply aren't bright enough to ask touch questions or try to get the other side of the issue.

    Anyone who works with the press knows this. I always wrote press releases so that just about everything after the first paragraph could be copied and pasted (or to date myself) retyped.

    I place a lot of blame on editors and the media organizations. The pay for reporters is often low so the organizations cannot really demand quality work. A lot of reporters do not even have a background in journalism. On the other hand a lot of editors are quite well paid (depending on the type of news organization). I put a lot of the blame on editors for letting this kind of thing get past them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    beshoffs, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 7:01am

    Press Releases ARE News

    To think that just because press releases are news that comes from a clearly biased source, that they don't rank with news generated by a news company or reporters is just naive and puts journalists on a pedestal that they generally don't warrant. Consumers need to be smart enough to question what they get from news sources and to know that EVERY word or image they get has a manipulation behind it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 7:59am

    Need The Public Support

    I blame the bush administration. They are trying to build public support for some bullshit thing... Remember where the idea of WMDs led us?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 11:27am

    I blame bloggers - they do much the same thing and news papers feel they now must compete.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    entropy (profile), Jul 16th, 2008 @ 1:15am


    Now we know where all those "press releases" can be redirected.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Rick Smith, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 3:54am

    Placing releases as news stories, feature stories

    Newspapers have cut editorial staff (after the dot com boom editors were offered obscene money to leave newspapers and write for web sites) and to fill that gap the few remaining publishers and editors now more than ever rely on helpful services that have AP Style trained writers and editors on staff that can turn press releases into finished stories and into the formatt each newspaper wants. The quality and reputation is high..something they can count on.
    Services like News USA, guarantee the pr person their stories will run in hundreds of newspapers, the editors can pick and choose from the quality supply at www.newsusa.com
    Also, now with RSS & XML feeds as free content for web sites. NEWS USA guarantees it's work and the content or "fill" is excellent; check it out, use the service.
    NEWS USA will even mock up stories for you at no obligation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
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