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Video News Releases as Advertising Propaganda

10 Ağustos 2011 , Çarşamba 15:37
Video News Releases as Advertising Propaganda
melis.sunay@halklailiskiler.com

Television as a source of news has been dwindling as far back as my own college days especially due to the rise of cable and Internet’s status as a leading news source.  In the fast paced world of electronics and daily advances in computer technology, less and less people are tuning into daily news broadcasts or purchasing dailies and magazines to keep up-to-date with their surroundings and the world.  There is a general public ignorance of international news and events, whether it be in the US or in Turkey, and thus people are more likely to be swayed by any news they happen to catch on television; perhaps their only source of news.

In general, it is weather, sports and traffic news that prompt metropolitan viewers to tune-in, with entertainment news flashes spicing up their daily routine.  And of course, it is still the evening news that receives the highest viewership in an average household throughout the world, an occasion for all family members to get together.

As we all know, legitimate online and wire services are the leading sources of such actual news, along with well-produced video news releases (VNR’s) disbursed by companies and produced by public relations, advertising, marketing firms, corporations and government agencies, that aren’t actual news at all.  Such releases are segments made to look like a news reports, but are in fact advertising propaganda produced by these agencies in the language and style of actual news.  These clips are released so professionally that they are actually indistinguishable from actual news.  (Just imagine being tricked by one!)

Anyhow, these companies don’t pay stations to run these new releases, they are simply provided to newsrooms to shape and promote commercial products, services and individuals, or in support of other interests.  It is up to the discretion of the station and the producer to air the clip, in part or in its entirety, to incorporate them into news reports if they contain information vis-à-vis a news story, or if the station believes them to be of viewers’ interests. They are, thus, somewhat similar to video press releases and should be treated as such; through informing viewers.  Regardless of whether real people or professional actors appear in these releases, VNR producers and directors, just like journalists, have complete discretion to excerpt and edit these ‘interviews’ into sound bites, for their sponsors.

A television advertisement is simply a span of television programming produced and paid for by an organization to promote its goods and services in return for revenue.  Advertisement revenue provides a significant portion of the funding for most privately owned TV networks.  The vast majority of television advertisements worldwide consist of brief advertising spots, ranging in length of a few seconds to several minutes. 

Video news releases are thus quite different from advertisements. Television provides the most effective mass-market promotional format, reflected by the high prices TV networks charge for airtime, particularly during evening broadcasts and popular TV events.  Once all advertisements are removed, actual news broadcasts, including newscasters’ comments in an hour-long report, amounts to only 21 minutes, with approximately 30 minutes set aside for ads.

VNR’s, meanwhile, prove to be successful gimmicks to get listeners and viewers to further go to individual web-sites for more detailed news, sites displaying advertising from various other sources, which, in turn, increase advertising revenue for each company initially releasing the video news, demonstrating a clever, circuitous way to increase company revenue.  Hence, they are somewhat like advertisements themselves – yet, as mentioned above, companies simply pay the contracted firm and not the television company for their release, whereas they must pay to have their ad released by the stations.   

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