Media embeds – alive and well

If you think the practice of embedding “experts” into TV news programs is over, think again.

In a story for an upcoming edition of The Nation, Sebastian Jones takes a fresh look at how frequently pundits’ other roles – as paid lobbyists for companies highly invested on those very topics of discussion – go unreported on the air. (I talked to Jones for his story and was briefly quoted.)

Jones’ story follows the Pulitzer-Prize-winning work of David Barstow of The New York Times, who thoroughly detailed a deep-rooted propaganda-like effort by the Pentagon to secretly sway public opinion about the war in Iraq. Here are Barstow’s stories about the program in general and focusing on retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey.

News programs fail to disclose analysts’ financial connections to the topics of  which they speak, a blatant conflict of interest that rages on because networks enable the masquerade.

SPJ’s Ethics Committee has criticized the lack of disclosure about these conflicts (see statements here and here), but the networks continue to thumb their noses at the public.

-Andy Schotz, chairman, SPJ Ethics Committee

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