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Author Topic: Scripted local news
LetterRip
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Conan O'Brien did a piece where he shows the opening bit of the exact same scripted news for local news anchors across the nation.

http://gawker.com/conan-proves-once-again-that-all-local-news-is-national-1484895404

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Fenring
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Oh god this is painful to watch. It's almost as if people on news shows are told what to say...
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Rafi
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Yeah, almost....

It's kind of fascinating to see the verbatim repetition. If there were real news being done any more, questions would be asked. Where did this story come from? Who wrote the copy? What else do they write? How did it get to all these local outlets? Are there other places that provide these templates? Who decides that a story goes into mass distribution? Who makes the decision to air it locally? Etc, etc.

Maybe all the answers are innocuous. Maybe.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
It's kind of fascinating to see the verbatim repetition.
I've mentioned before why I left journalism, right? Packaged news "segments" are all too common. They're essentially glossier press releases, written by a number of groups -- from corporations to special interests to companies that exist purely to provide filler -- and sold according to length and topic to station chiefs, generally in a bundle. Sometimes an organization will buy these bundles and distribute them to franchises, usually for "color."

In general, if it's not truly local news and you're watching a local station, you can be sure nowadays that somebody has packaged what you're seeing for regional or national consumption.

One of the things I deeply admire about Kasie, a fellow Hatracker who's gone on to serious success as a telejournalist, is that she's largely been able to avoid that kind of crap -- even though you can still see the seams she's trying to tamp down, sometimes.

[ August 27, 2015, 09:54 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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LetterRip
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Ah, a decent article on it by the Washington Post


quote:
The “salty” story was produced by an “affiliate service,” CNN Newsource, and syndicated to dozens of stations around the country. Stations not only get prepackaged footage from such services, but a script that introduces the footage, as well. Stations then “localize” the canned package by having one of their anchors read the one-size-fits-all copy.

Viewers typically have no idea that a seemingly local story has come from a centralized source in New York, Los Angeles or, in this case, Washington. The CNN Newsource story, for example, doesn’t mention CNN Newsource or CNN, its parent company. The reporter on the story simply signed off, “In Washington, I’m Karin Caifa.” (Caifa and CNN Newsource were also behind the widely played story about “social networking” for dogs via a Web site that connects pet owners.)

CBS’s affiliate service, called CBS Newspath, produced a piece last year about Conan O’Brien that became raw material for another clip job on Conan’s show.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/a-local-tv-trend-and-now-the-identical-news/2012/11/27/9369a308-38bd-11e2-8a97-363b0f9a0ab3_story.html
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Rafi
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Viewers typically have no idea.... A centralized source...
quote:
William Casey, CIA Director 1981-1987

“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”


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TomDavidson
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Amusingly, that centralized source is very rarely the government. The pharmaceutical industry owns the biggest chunk of this space.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Amusingly, that centralized source is very rarely the government. The pharmaceutical industry owns the biggest chunk of this space.

Well, the source is private interests, but not everyone in government only works for the public interest, to say the least.
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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Amusingly, that centralized source is very rarely the government. The pharmaceutical industry owns the biggest chunk of this space.

Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, etc write news stories that are broad cast nationally? Really? Such a claim requires some proof, got some?
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LetterRip
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I agree with Rafi, that seems quite a surprising claim and I'd be interested in evidence for it. A quick google search didn't suggest ownership of any of the major media conglomerates by the major pharmaceuticals.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, etc write news stories that are broad cast nationally?
No, because they aren't total idiots. *laugh* They pay companies to do it for them. Very, very few news organizations produce their own health news, because doctors are expensive; almost every health segment you see on television is pre-packaged. The same tends to be true of any segment on children's toy fads, fashion trends, and amusing animal behavior. Local news is incredibly dependent on the VNR.

You can take the paranoid position that groups which produce this news do so to control a given narrative, or you can take the very forgiving position that there is a serious demand for this kind of filler in the modern news cycle. I suspect that the truth is somewhere in between.

[ August 28, 2015, 10:53 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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LetterRip
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TomD,

ah I thought you meant news in general. It is unfortunate that for any form of media - a company can submit prepackaged articles, stories and they have a good chance of getting them published largely unaltered.

That really isn't pharmaceutical corporation specific though. I'd suggest it is probably more prevalent in magazine articles than newspapers or news segments.

[ August 28, 2015, 10:59 AM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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LetterRip
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Would you favor mandatory notifications if prepackaged material are the predominant or sole source of material for a news story?
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
You can take the paranoid position that groups which produce this news do so to control a given narrative, or you can take the very forgiving position that there is a serious demand for this kind of filler in the modern news cycle. I suspect that the truth is somewhere in between.

Demand, however, can be created: if you build it, they will come.

There is also a third option, which is that the content is by-and-large built for ratings, but where occasional stories are either cut or forced in by interested parties so that the net effect of the news is to control a given narrative even while most of the content has nothing to do with that.

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LetterRip
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Here is a report on the government engaging in this practice

http://www.democracynow.org/2005/3/14/state_propaganda_how_government_agencies_produce

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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, etc write news stories that are broad cast nationally?
No, because they aren't total idiots. *laugh* They pay companies to do it for them. .
Simply repeating it with a conspiracy theory-ish framing isn't much support for this claim. I certainly believe news organizations reach out to companies for news about the medical industry. I'm not sure I believe pharmaceutical companies employ shell companies and write the actual news copy that is broadcast nationally through local outlets. Short of making the claim again, is there any evidence of this conspiracy happening?
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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Here is a report on the government engaging in this practice

http://www.democracynow.org/2005/3/14/state_propaganda_how_government_agencies_produce

It's fascinating that this happened set a time when the media was so rabid about destroying a president that they'd go so far as to fabricate the evidence for the stories about him. We are in exactly the opposite spectrum now, where the media is doing everything they can to prop up a president.

Do you think the government is doing more news writing or less now? [Wink]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I'm not sure I believe pharmaceutical companies employ shell companies and write the actual news copy that is broadcast nationally through local outlets.
Specifically, when I say they "own this space," what I mean is that the vast majority -- by a wide margin -- of prepackaged news comes from pharmaceutical companies, usually as part of a presumably "local" health segment. Local news shows tend to be particularly weak when it comes to having their own medical resources, so they rely heavily on others to create stories for them -- and those others have many incentives to do so.

quote:
It's fascinating that this happened set a time when the media was so rabid about destroying a president that they'd go so far as to fabricate the evidence for the stories about him. We are in exactly the opposite spectrum now, where the media is doing everything they can to prop up a president.
Wow. Your brain is so full of spin it could be a cotton candy machine. [Smile]
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Rafi
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By repeating it 3 times and then going for a personal attack to intimidate into silence, are you convinced that somehow proves your assertions? Your conspiracy theory is up there with jet contrails and the lizard rulers. [Wink]
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Rafi:
By repeating it 3 times and then going for a personal attack to intimidate into silence, are you convinced that somehow proves your assertions? Your conspiracy theory is up there with jet contrails and the lizard rulers. [Wink]

Interesting that you should mention the attempt to silence while simultaneously invoking the black term "conspiracy theory" to waive a claim away [Wink]
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TomDavidson
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quote:
By repeating it 3 times and then going for a personal attack to intimidate into silence, are you convinced that somehow proves your assertions?
Wait, what?
Are you seriously thinking that I am invested in asserting that the biggest player in the VNR space is Big Pharma? That this is something I'd need to intimidate people about, or assert? That there's some kind of meaningful angle being worked on this?

*sigh* No. I am simply informing you of facts as I understand them, an understanding which is based on a decade spent working in the industry involved and choosing to leave that industry as a direct result of the increasing corporate influence over local news. It does not particularly matter to me if for some reason you do not want to believe that pharmaceutical companies play a major role in the production of "local" health news. You would be wrong, but you are very often wrong and it is rarely my fault. I do, however, find it somewhat remarkable that you think this is something worth challenging; apparently you are very invested in the idea that manufactured news is just something the government does, and that it's something that the Obama administration in particular has encouraged. It's similarly surprising that any suggestion that corporations might act in a way that increases their profits is considered a "conspiracy theory;" I don't believe I have ever suggested that corporations are secretly selling packaged news to stations, but only that stations have little incentive to disclose the use of packaged news on their end. I have little desire to try to disinvest you of this fixation, but I will note (for the benefit of anyone else reading this who might be interested in the topic) that the angles you're taking on this one are all based on suppositions that are factually incorrect.

[ August 31, 2015, 10:35 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by Fenring:
quote:
Originally posted by Rafi:
By repeating it 3 times and then going for a personal attack to intimidate into silence, are you convinced that somehow proves your assertions? Your conspiracy theory is up there with jet contrails and the lizard rulers. [Wink]

Interesting that you should mention the attempt to silence while simultaneously invoking the black term "conspiracy theory" to waive a claim away [Wink]
Black term. I'm not familiar with that. However, claiming pharmaceutical companies write most news copy is conspiracy theorish.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
However, claiming pharmaceutical companies write most news copy is conspiracy theorish.
This is, you realize, not my claim. Can you correctly state what my claim actually was?
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Rafi:
Black term. I'm not familiar with that. However, claiming pharmaceutical companies write most news copy is conspiracy theorish.

"Black term," meaning a term that has been subverted and is now a synonym for "crazy nonsense." If, for instance, a conspiracy has taken place (which occurs all the time), when someone tries to deduce what happened they therefore are devising a "conspiracy theory." However since that term is now colloquial for "crazy nonsense" by describing what the person is doing one is simultaneously dismissing what they're doing. What is what you did, making full use of the implication of the term to dismiss Tom's comment without actually addressing it.
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Rafi
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I asked for something beyond making the claim repeatedly for proof. Addressing what is a rather absurd claim with a request for prof and that request being met with nothing more than repetition and personal attacks tells us all we need to know about the available proof for the claim and the nature of the person making the claim. No need to address it further.
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TomDavidson
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I'm curious: what do you consider an absurd claim? Can you restate my claim in your own words?
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