By Andy Schotz | July 23rd, 2008
The Las Vegas Sun reported that its Fox affiliate sells product-placement spots to McDonald’s during its morning newscasts (http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2008/jul/21/eye-opener-pitch/). (Here’s The New York Times’ account: www.nytimes.com/2008/07/22/business/media/22adco.html?_r=1&oref=slogin). News organizations that want to be trusted shouldn’t stir news and advertising together to create a fluffy soufflé. Even if you’re just reading the news in the morning, you should instill in viewers that your goal is the truth, in whatever bits you provide it. Advertisers’ money has no place in the middle of the news, however subtly it’s inserted. Make clear to readers what’s news, what’s entertainment, what’s been paid for. Unfortunately, gimmicks like this on TV also invite government intervention; the FCC has been looking at the deceptive use of advertiser-produced video segments passed off as news (http://www.spj.org/news.asp?ref=575) and has started imposing fines. What’s next? NASCAR-style patches on news anchors? I don’t see much difference.