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Fake News Stories Probed 299

An anonymous reader writes "From the article: "The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has begun an investigation of the use of video news releases, sometimes called "fake news," at U.S. television stations. Video news releases are packaged stories paid for by businesses or interest groups. They use actors to portray reporters and use the same format as television news stories.""
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Fake News Stories Probed

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  • Agitprop (Score:5, Interesting)

    by (1+-sqrt(5))*(2**-1) (868173) <> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:25PM (#15923709) Homepage
    From FTA:
    "You can't tell anymore the difference between what's propaganda and what's news," Adelstein said.
    “Soviet Russia” jokes aside (who, by the way, had an entire Department for Agitation and Propaganda []), we are at that uncanny nexus where Capitalism and Bolshevism meet: where greed, unchecked, vies to overawe and enslave a receptive populace.

    Prescription? Strap in; when the government fears the governed, voting won't get you anywhere.

    • Re:Agitprop (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cirby (2599)
      ...except that almost everyone reading this story on Slashdot heard it from a non-network source, with added commentary and direct feedback, and you know there's going to be a lot of fact-checking in the comments below.

      Ditto for most of the predigested/fake news we get. Used to, it just went unchallenged, but now it's a lot harder to get newsoids out without someone putting up a site about the Emperor's New Press Release.
      • Re:Agitprop (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 246o1 (914193) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @08:24PM (#15923977)
        The fact that all the things politicians try to get away with shoving down our throats are exposed so quickly has not prevented them from trying. Now, however, the people who learn about all this stuff immediately on the internet, an ever-growing but still-small (way less than half the population) group are well-informed.

        There's a huge gap between people who try to find out what's true and people who just accept whatever they want to be true. The more lies there are out there, and the more people realize there are lies, the more people will just decide to believe in whatever reality they like. For instance, no matter how much I point out the relentless corruption of the government in office now, my father has settled on the idea that Republicans and Democrats are basically equally corrupt, which means he won't vote on corruption as an issue anymore. He just has no faith in the reliability of any news source that he or I might find, and he is busy with his life, so he doesn't bother finding out what is true.

        When we allow a variety of false "truths" (Kerry's more of a flip-flopper than Bush, Gore claims to have invented the internet, there are WMD in Iraq, there's a connection between Iraq and 9-11, etc.) to stick around on TV long after they are show to be false, we decrease the believability of any TV news.

        There is meaningful damage done to our society everytime the bar for truth and honesty in news reporting is lowered further.

        Yes, the internet has been great for getting news out to some people, but for most people, it's still just as hard to tell whether to trust little green footballs or rawstory as it is to decide between Fox and (if there were a liberal network I would put it here)
        • Re:Agitprop (Score:2, Insightful)

          by BoberFett (127537)
          Are we to assume, then, that you've chosen to believe the Democrat version of truth?
          • Re:Agitprop (Score:3, Informative)

            by 246o1 (914193)
            Not always, by any means. There are certainly plenty of corrupt Dems out there, but far fewer than Republicans (especially in my state, for what that's worth) from what I can tell, and obviously the executive branch, being all Republican, means the most prominent ones now are also Republican.

            I am a liberal and a skeptic (some might say cynic), if you are particularly interested.
          • Re:Agitprop (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Ambassador Kosh (18352) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:34PM (#15924584)
            Here is what I have noticed. The people in power are the most likely ones to lie since they have more to lose. I don't believe the democrats and when they where in power they did a lot of lieing. However now that the republicans are in power they are doing more of the lieing simply because they have more opportunity to do so. If the democrats where in power again they would do the same thing.

            Heck if you really look at it are there any actual republicans or democrats in power? Republicans are supposed to be conservative, small government, fiscal responsibility etc. When is the last time you saw that? Highest debts then ever, more spending, bigger government etc is the rule right now.

            Same goes for democrats. You know actual liberals that really are. People that look at what reality is like now and see what can be changed to actually improve it. It used to be that democrats where pro change for the better but where also for fiscal responsibility. Now we have democrats that spend every dime we have and the changes they want are the changes that benefit mostly their own power and the other rich people. I have not see a real democrat or republican in office in a long time.

            If you actually believe in the democrat or republican party lines I don't see how you can vote for people in either party in good concience given the state that both parties are in.

            So in essence I don't believe that anything that republicans or democrats say is really the truth except where it happens to work in their favor and selective telling of the truth is often worse the lieing.
          • Re:Agitprop (Score:5, Insightful)

            by arivanov (12034) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @12:57AM (#15925043) Homepage
            Understanding is a three-edged sword: your side, their side, and the truth.
                        --Kosh Naranek
          • Re:Agitprop (Score:4, Funny)

            by Wiwi Jumbo (105640) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:58AM (#15925982) Homepage Journal
            Reality has a well-known liberal bias.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ubergrendle (531719)
        I don't really see the big deal to be honest -- this has been going on since the mid-80s at least (soon as betamax became economical to distribute).

        You know those 'latest cancer breakthroughs' or 'scienfitic studies have shown today that...' -- they're ALL press releases. Guaranteed most newsrooms don't have health reporters trolling through medical journals, making informed opinions about what should and should not be broadcast.

        Its a sad reality, but why is this a story all of the sudden? At least bl
    • Re:Agitprop (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CrazyDuke (529195) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @08:21PM (#15923962)
      This is a bit off the mark. But, personally, I thought one of the major points of 1984 was that it didn't really matter if the government was fascist, communist, or theocratic, the end result was essentially the same. So, the simularities between authoritarian governments aren't really a surprise me.
    • by reporter (666905) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:33PM (#15924309) Homepage
      The problem with the infomercials is that if you switch television channels and land in the middle of the infomercial, you do not know that it is an infomercial. Many infomercials are set up so that they appear like a news report, and you could easily be fooled into believing the unsubstantiated claims made by the actors.

      The only way to know that you are watching an infomercial, without consulting the online TV gude, is to wait until the end of the infomercial. At its conclusion, the television station will announce that "The previous broadcast is paid programming."

      The obvious way to help the innocent TV viewer is to simply require all infomercials to prominently display the same distinguishing marker on the lower left of the TV screen. Given the content of some of these infomercials, I propose displaying an icon resembling Bozo the Clown.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dthree (458263)
        Informercialls are bad enough, but these aren't even infomercials, they are short "news" segments aired DURING local news broadcasts. They are basically presented as news in the context of the stations regular news program, and resemble a location segment or a prerecorded public interest story.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:27PM (#15923719)
    I wonder if this wasn't supposed to be an edict to come down on the Daily Show & Colbert Report and someone misinterpreted the memo instead...
    • "So Steven, some people say you don't really tell the truth on this show. Is that in fact correct?"
      • by LouisZepher (643097) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:15PM (#15924511)
        "Yes, it is correct that some people say that I don't tell the truth on this show."
  • Baaaa..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by null etc. (524767) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:29PM (#15923727)
    Corporations have long been treating consumers like sheep. It's a small wonder that they haven't started publishing fake newspapers yet.
    • Re:Baaaa..... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DerGeist (956018) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:37PM (#15923769)
      Not fake newspapers yet, but definitely fake articles. Advertisers do their best to purchase a whole page and "pretend" to be a news article by matching the font, headline structure, and overall composition you'd expect to see from a newspaper article. By masquerading as an actual piece they hope to win your trust in the absurd claims made in the article, with accompanying pictures of an honest-looking doctor (in lab coat, of course).

      Not only are these a cheap shot, they're also very annoying, especially when they are every-other-page, as is often the case with my local paper, the D&C []. I'm always being told that "scientists are amazed by the adhesiveness of new DentureBOND(tm) Maximum Strength Dental Adhesive. So strong it can hold a cow to the ceiling by means of only a few drops! A scientifical (sic) revolution!"

      These "fake articles" are always rife with phony quotes, sources, pictures and media-esque mini-headlines. It was only a matter of time before this happened too. The moral is, advertisers will do anything, anything to get you to buy their crap.

      • Re:Baaaa..... (Score:5, Informative)

        by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:53PM (#15923848)
        You are misunderstanding what's being probed here. These are essentially commercials that are taking place DURING the newscast. Anchor A will say "And now over to Correspondent B in City C for a report on Topic X that you'll find truly startling!" The camera will switch over to the "correspondent" who will then proceed to give their spiel, which is really just a purchased promo spot for some product or research study. The screen will still have the Channel XX logo in the corner with the correspondents name in the same news font as the rest of the newscast. This is because this is actually part of the newscast. That is what's being investigated. Not a full page ad in the newspaper (which, by the way, says "paid advertisement" in small type at the top of the page).
        • Re:Baaaa..... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Traiklin (901982) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @08:00PM (#15923885) Homepage
          Didn't Daily Show do a story about that to?

          Since I barely watch other news stations anymore it must of been, I remember there was a big thing all over the place (not just on Daily Show) about that exact same thing and they showed 4 different videos from different parts of the country, all 4 had the exact same "correspondent" reporting on four different things.

          Suprised it took the FCC this long to decide to go after them.
          • Didn't Daily Show do a story about that to?

            Since I barely watch other news stations anymore it must of been, I remember there was a big thing all over the place (not just on Daily Show) about that exact same thing and they showed 4 different videos from different parts of the country, all 4 had the exact same "correspondent" reporting on four different things.

            Suprised it took the FCC this long to decide to go after them.

            You aren't imaginign things. I saw the same episode.
          • by mattmacf (901678) <mattmacf&optonline,net> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:13PM (#15924502) Homepage
            Didn't Daily Show do a story about that to?
            Indeed they did.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by mincognito (839071)
            they showed 4 different videos from different parts of the country, all 4 had the exact same "correspondent" reporting on four different things.

            This is what you saw: []

          • by sowth (748135) * on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:16AM (#15925240) Journal

            You are suprised it took this long for the FCC to go after them? I'm not. The FCC is a whore to the highest bidder.

            They sold most of the radio spectrum out from under the public. Why do you think you have to pay such outrageous prices for cellphone service? Those are public airwaves you are using--they should be free. Cellphones should cost about as much as a landline to use.

            Then there is WiFi. Do you know what part of the spectrum it is on? The same one which microwave ovens interfere. We should have multigigabit wireless networking with a range of kilometers. Where you could essentialy have acess to a citywide LAN just by plugging a networking card into your computer.

            I'm suprized the FCC went after them at all. Tomorrow I expect to see someone from the FCC Reading from a corporate letterhead and holding a briefcase with money falling out of it, saying: "We apologize to our corporate spons..I mean friendly companies. Our accusations were unfounded and a mistake. Have a doubleplusgood day. :-)"

        • Re:Baaaa..... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Peyna (14792)
          I hear this more on the radio than I see it on TV. It's especially confusing when it's the same DJ/Radiohead that has been talking for the past 10 minutes about real news and then segues into a story about the great deals down at Joe Bob's RV's, but reads it like it's another news story.

          This is part of the reason I've switched to NPR for the most part.
    • Fake newspapers? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by andrewman327 (635952) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:40PM (#15923778) Homepage Journal
      The Onion [] anyone?

      Anyway, I have seen just about every one of the "fake news" infomercials. Being a nightowl helps. Anyway, should be obvious to anyone that these are fake. The begining and the end of the infomercials have disclaimers that affirm their paid commericial status. I think that they should have disclaimers on the bottom of the screen that remind channel surfers of this fact, but overall they are not well hidden.

      Hey Mods, guess what? By modding this comment up and making three easy payments of $19.99, you will have expended less than $60! Mod now! Apply directly to forehead! Apply directly to forehead! Apply directly to forehead!

      • by maynard (3337) <j DOT maynard DO ... AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:44PM (#15923808) Journal
        The Onion is satire and makes itself known as such. As does SNL Weekend Update, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report. This is not the same as purposefully misrepresenting news in order to present slanted opinion. That broadcast news organizations have been caught actually peddling this stuff from government and private industry sources shows just how far television news ethics has declined. It's bad. I can both argue for Fox News as a legitimate news organization simply because they're just as bad as CBS as a factual source. IOW: TV news really really sucks.

        Read a real newspaper if you want to be informed. Actually, read several.
      • Re:Fake newspapers? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Babbster (107076) <> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:48PM (#15923821) Homepage
        This isn't an issue about infomercials with the disclaimers you mention, nor is it about humorists. Those obviously wouldn't warrant an investigation. The issue is about "news reports" that are created by government and/or corporate organizations which are sent to "real" news producers, who then put them on the air without disclosing their source. It's a way for those producers to fill time in their broadcasts without spending any money and the creators of the segments get to spread their message to the public through a medium which that audience [probably foolishly] trusts. I posted this link in a message down a bit further, but it probably bears repeating [].
      • Re:Fake newspapers? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by FLEB (312391)
        These aren't infomercials. They're pre-recorded tapes sent to newsrooms with pre-recorded "reports" that the newsroom can slip in as an actual news story. The news stations, in laziness, throw their own chrome on it and call it "time filled". Meanwhile, the sender of the tape is getting cheap, legitimized PR.
    • Corporations often take ads out in magazines and newspapers that are made up to look exactly like a news story. The only thing to clue you in is the word "advertisement" in small letters at the top or bottom of the page. Corporations also print out ad circulars that are made to look like regular magazines or newspapers, and in that case there is often no clue at all that it's an advertisement unless you bother to look at the publisher information written in tiny letters on one of the inside pages.
    • Re:Baaaa..... (Score:4, Informative)

      by BrynM (217883) * on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:51PM (#15923839) Homepage Journal
      It's a small wonder that they haven't started publishing fake newspapers yet.
      Newspapers aren't considered entertainment - television is. I know that may not make sense at first because TV "news" is not supposed to be entertainment either, but today it is (in the USA). Just look at the lead in tactics ("Emmenant danger you need to know about - more after the break"), the amount of fluff (celebrity "news") and that the management of the stations are more concerned with ratings rather than factuality. Couple this with the idea that the vast majority of americans don't read newspapers because they consider broadcast news to be equal in regards to journalism and the choice of where spin can be seeded becomes easy. Finally, in print, sponsored articles are usually tagged with the word "advertisement" or "special advertising section" because of editorial tradition and laws in some localities. Print news is more mature than TV news in all of these respects.
    • Corporations have long been treating consumers like sheep.

      No, more like a sex-toy. I *wish* all they did to me was shave my head and sell the hair once a year.
  • Poltical, too. (Score:5, Informative)

    by morcheeba (260908) * on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:31PM (#15923742) Journal
    It isn't just corporate and interest groups that are doing this. What concerns me much much more is that the Bush administration is doing this, too, to advance their agenda. And it's paid for by US taxpayers. []

    "Thank you, Bush. Thank you, U.S.A.," a jubilant Iraqi-American told a camera crew in Kansas City for a segment about reaction to the fall of Baghdad. A second report told of "another success" in the Bush administration's "drive to strengthen aviation security"; the reporter called it "one of the most remarkable campaigns in aviation history." A third segment, broadcast in January, described the administration's determination to open markets for American farmers.
  • Perhaps they should start at the executive branch [] of the good 'ol USA. The Bush administration was doing just this to push their Medicare Reform bill a couple years back. They got quite the bad press when it became public. One wonders, have they stopped? Well, certainly *someone* hasn't...

    I seem to remember there's a word for this. Uhhh propagation? Proposition? Proletariat? No....


    Ah, yes. propaganda!

  • Most major news outlets release the exact same fud as the supposed "fake news" theyre investigating.

    I think it's a double standard myself.
    All the major news outlets do this, especially on tech, drug, and copyright stories.

    If I had a dollar for every time they simply released an RIAA/MPAA press release as a news story i'd be able to retire right now and leave a considerable estate to my great grandchildren.

    Then there were the many blatantly fabricated stories published on the net neutrality debate, and the l
  • news (Score:4, Funny)

    by ElephanTS (624421) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:33PM (#15923751)
    Fake news == Faux news == Fox news

    Nuff said.
    • by maynard (3337)
      Fox News is a legitimate news organization. This becomes apparent upon reading their print material or watching their actual news reports. Like all the other cable news outlets, if you're watching the interview shows like O'Rielly you're not getting hard news - it's all opinion. But watch the news and -- while it's most definitely slanted toward the administration and Republicans -- it's also factually accurate news. *shrug* Like all TV news it's watered down and of little factual value. If you really want
      • by BrynM (217883) * on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:57PM (#15923870) Homepage Journal
        Fox News is a legitimate news organization. This becomes apparent upon reading their print material or watching their actual news reports.
        FOX may have actual news, but that is not their primary content. The prolem with FOX is that the actual new broadcasts are few and far between. The majority of their programming is punditry (FOX and Friends being a prime example). Yes I watch FOX, but merely to observe spin not to get real facts. I don't consider them a news outlet any more than I consider Entertainment Weekly to be news.
      • by fotbr (855184) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:59PM (#15923881) Journal
        You're 100% correct. The problem lies with the idiots who can't differentiate between opinion shows and news shows.

        While the left is guilty of this when basing their opinion on flaks like Orilley, the right is equally guilty of it when they consider Daily Show etc to be news.

        Which goes to show, not all idiots belong to one party or the other. Idiocy is rampant on both sides.
      • by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @08:17PM (#15923948)
        Riiiight. That's why today, during a live "breaking news" segment about a diverted commercial airliner, a man appeared on camera at Fox News and said "She's probably not an al Qaeda affiliate, probably not a terrorist, could just be a Ned Lamont supporter, we don't know."
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by pixelguru (985395)

          I didn't hear that remark, but I did hear Fox News report that the woman:

          • was "armed" with a screwdriver
          • was in possession of a tub of vaseline and matches
          • was carrying a note mentioning Al Qaeda (in two languages)

          Obviously, little or no effort was made to check these "facts" before they blasted this info around the world, and I heard no apology when it turned out that none of this was true. If this woman was in fact claustrophobic, she should sue the network for defamation of character for broadcasting

          • by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:21PM (#15924539)
            Yeah, well. What did you expect? A few weeks ago the Fox correspondent in Lebanon said it was "widely believed" that Hezbollah officials were hiding in the Iranian embassy. When a correspondent on Fox says "widely believed", he means widely believed amongst Fox cameramen.

            Of course, it turned out that no such person was hiding in Iran's embassy. As far as I know, no reputable news outlet ran with this story. Therefore, searching on "hezbollah iranian embassy" on Google gives you a pretty complete list of right wing warmongering disinformation sites which should not be taken seriously. The first outlet to report the truth -- that "Hezbollah leader not in Iran's embassy" -- is the People's Daily News of China.

            How sad is it when a major news provider in the USA is peddling disinformation while the Chinese communist party's official news organ is reporting the straight scoop?
  • no matter how you dress them up. Fortunately, in print at any rate, they're pretty easy to spot. Readers hate them but for some insane reason advertisers seem to love them. I've lost track of the number of times I've been contacted by some PR troll saying "Hi, we've just bought an ad and now we'd like to place some editorial". I usually end up describing just how/where/when they can place their 'editorial' in some detail.

    Why do they like it? Readers actively hate it (I know I do and our in-house research ag
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:40PM (#15923777)
    Bush White House Used Taxpayer Dollars To Create Fake News Programs To Promote No Child Left Behind; Also Rated News Stories Based On Favorability

    Ketchum Produced Fake News Reports to Promote No Child Left Behind. The Department of Education contracted with Ketchum public relations to produce and distribute "news" stories featuring a fake reporter announcing the availability of tutoring under No Child Left Behind. According to the Associated Press, the Administration paid $700,000 to Ketchum for the segment. The video includes a story featuring Education Secretary Rod Paige and ends with the "journalist" saying, "In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting." [AP, 10/10/04, Washington Post, 10/15/04; People for the American Way Release, 10/11/04]

    Department of Education Also Paid Ketchum to Code Media Stories Based on Favorability of Coverage. According to the Associated Press, the Department of Education used taxpayer dollars to devise a rating system to score news coverage of the federal No Child Left Behind law. The system rewards points to news outlets that air reports that, among other things, say that President Bush and Republicans are strong on education. The news rankings also rank individual reporters on how sympathetic they are to the Administration's program. [AP, 10/10/04]

    Bush Administration Paid Armstrong Williams $240,000 To Promote No Child Left Behind

    Armstrong Williams Paid By Bush Administration To Tout NCLB. USA Today revealed that the Department of Education paid political commentator/talk radio host Armstrong Williams $240,000 to promote Bush's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) initiative on his program and to other African American commentators. During these efforts, Williams failed to disclose his contract with the government. [USA Today, 1/7/05]

    Taxpayer Dollars Also Used To Create Fake News Programs For Bush Medicare Plan

    Bush Used Taxpayer Dollars to Stage Fake News Stories To Promote His Medicare Bill. Bush's Health and Human Services Department also contracted with Ketchum to promote the president's Medicare drug benefit. Using the same public relations consultant, Karen Ryan, Ketchum produced a series of video news releases that included scripted interviews and pictures of Bush receiving a standing ovation as he signed the legislation. During the first two months of 2004, the pieces aired 53 times on 40 stations in 33 major media markets. [New York Times, 3/15/04; Atlanta Journal Constitution, 3/15/04; LA Times, 3/16/04; Lexington Herald Leader, 5/19/04]

            * GAO Found Bush Administration Guilty. On May 19, 2004, the General Accountability Office (GAO) released its investigation findings into fake news segments produced by Medicare to promote the Bush Medicare bill. The segments, video news releases, were distributed to local television sessions to be run as part of the station's news programs. The segments contained no identifiers that they were produced by the government, which the GAO found violates the propaganda prohibitions of the Consolidated Appropriations Resolution of 2003. The GAO concluded, "Because [Medicare] did not identify itself as a source of the news report, the story packages, including the lead-in script, violate the publicity or propaganda prohibition." [GAO, Decision in Matter of Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services - Video News Release, 5/19/04]
  • by Babbster (107076) <> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:41PM (#15923785) Homepage
    Here's an article [] from the Center for Media and Democracy that gives a lot more information about this practice and also provides video examples for your viewing "pleasure."
  • by peu (163472)
    my abdominizer and the 5min perfect fitness routine are not real?

    im feeling fat already
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:47PM (#15923818)
    The federal regulator can levy fines of up to $32,500 US per violation.

    In the article, one of the reasons cited for running this crap is that it is free. Given what a station charges for air time, they could run this stuff every hour and still make a profit. Meanwhile, they want to up the fines for obscenity to millions of dollars.

    So you want to see the real priorities of the current administration? Run their political propaganda (or the propaganda of their corporage supporters) and recieve a slap on the wrist. Say something that offends the radical religious right wing and get put out of business.

    I, for one, do NOT welcome the rule of our new theocratic overlords.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:48PM (#15923827)
    I'd like to see them getting at it right at the source. After all, wasn't it the infamous Bush administration who started fabricating stories during the Iraqi war? And no, I'm not even targetting the missing WMD's, simply focussing on already proven lies. Like the female soldier who was alledgidly a POW and being tortured in an hospital. Turned out that her injurier were well treated but the campaign needed more goodwill so what better way than to introduce the "damsel in distress".

    Or what about the treachery at the Abu Graib prison, events which weren't merely denied but also covered with newsstories than absolutely nothing was going on down there. Or what about the US' private detention centre on Cuba were we only hear news about those dangerous and evil terrorists doing all sorts of naughty things when in fact they're only getting lawyers into gear in order to demand to be treated under international civilion rights which every human should be entitled to.

    So... Please go right ahead with the investigation but if you guys don't start right at the top I can't help wonder if this whole deal is in fact fake in itself.
  • by crazy_monkey (708922) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @07:50PM (#15923836)
    Check out the 1995 documentary 'Spin' to see some early examples of this type of fake news being broadcast during the run-up to the 1992 election.
    • Someone else who remembered Spin! Sad to know that nothing has really changed in 11 years isn't it? As I mentioned in my earlier post, Spin can be had at []. Everyone should watch it and join the ranks of the disillusioned... er... informed.
    • See it here (Score:2, Informative)

      by mhermans (948710)
      Cosing; as a matter of fact here [] is it in full. From the page:
      "Artist Brian Springer spent a year scouring the airwaves with a satellite dish grabbing back channel news feeds not intended for public consumption. The result of his research is SPIN, one of the most insightful films ever made about the mechanics of how television is used as a tool of social control to distort and limit the American public's perception of reality."
  • Fox already went to court to establish their right to lie and call it news. There's precedent. What is FCC going to do about it?
    • And the other three majors copied them before the ink was dry on the decision. Fox is still the only one of the four to have anything approaching an original idea in the last 40 years.
  • from tfa:

    The media watchdog group is recommending the FCC fine stations who have violated the rules. The federal regulator can levy fines of up to $32,500 US per violation.

    I don't have any firsthand knowledge, but it seems likely that 32k is far below what a station would charge for that kind of service. If it's still a net profit, this is just pointless.
  • OK, I owned a pro broadcast post production studio in the early 90's. Most of our work was for 'news releases' done for corporations. You know, the ones like 'oompa oompa elementary school installs PCs in every classroom' and of course it was IBM that funded the 'news story'. Like I said, MOST of our work was this kind of production.

    I can't believe anyone is making a big deal out of it now - probably %70 percent of the news you have seen in your lifetime was paid for by a corporation.
  • by baggins2001 (697667) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @08:09PM (#15923914)
    On fake government. An investigation into what the hell Congress has been doing the last 10 years. We used to have news outlet that reported on this kind of thing. My best news source now is the Daily Show for National News. For local state news I still read the paper which is probably why I went to dinner recently and was the only one who new that they were planning to build huge privately owned toll roads in our state and that there were plans to build 16 coal fired power plants.
    I mean these weren't illiterate people, but they had decided that the local paper was liberal trype, so they quit reading it. I wish it was their land that they were going to take through eminant domain.
  • Nothing to see here (Score:2, Interesting)

    by porkmusket (954006)
    This has been happening for years. The only news here is that they are investigating it finally. I read about this same practice in my polisci textbooks 4 years ago. It's not a secret.
  • by rufusdufus (450462) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @08:16PM (#15923946)
    Remember the story of Fox producing a faked story about rBGH [] where whistlblowers sued them and the courts decided not that Fox hadn't lied, but that it was legal for them to do so? The FCC should have stood up then. If they are going to stand up now, they will have to apply the rules to Fox as well..right?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by freedom_india (780002)
      The FCC should have stood up then. If they are going to stand up now, they will have to apply the rules to Fox as well..right?

      Don't you understand? We are on the SAME SIDE ! They are practically the same company !!

      FTC suing Fox??? Are U saying the left arm should sue the right arm?

      Get yer facts right before you spout such nonsense.

  • As if there's such a thing as real news []?
  • All propaganda (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cynonamous Anoward (994767) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @08:44PM (#15924053)
    I took a class on public opinion and propaganda in college. Very interesting class. First thing we learned in the propaganda section, is that EVERYTHING is propaganda. Every person who ever writes, speaks, or otherwise communicates anything, subconciously puts their own spin on it. Therefore, to call it propaganda is not enough.

    To use the true terms, there is white propaganda, which is the average person stating something in their own words. They are trying to be objective, they have no ulterior motives, they simply state things in the manner which their brain happened to percieve it. There is Gray Propaganda, which knowingly leads you to one side, but at least makes an attempt to be truthful in the information they provide (i.e. they leave things out, but don't blatantly decieve). black propaganda is something which intentionally decieves.

    I believe that the bush administration in particular is guilty of a larger than normal amount of black propaganda. I think corporations, especially in the U.S. typically engage in a good amount of grey propaganda, in fact, advertising itself is generally grey. But all it takes is one individual within the organization to push grey into black. In other words, doing these kinds of things isn't inherently wrong, but it is definitely treading a thin line between doing something self-promoting, and something very wrong.

  • the only portion of the news we can take at face value is based off of modeling, punctuated with a big question mark?
  • Newsiness (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cousin Scuzzy (754180) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:44PM (#15924371)
    What I hate are the "news" stories that promote the airing network's other programming. For example, the local Fox affiliate "reports" ad nauseam about the latest American Idol happenings while that show is running. There are usually pieces about what Jack Bauer is up to during 24's season as well. These aren't presented as if they're just providing programming information (e.g., "Coming up next on Fox...") but rather as legitimate news. I often suspect that other fluff pieces are also supporting the commercial interests of the network's parent company or subsidiaries. For example a story about a new theme park opening, or an artist who has released a new album, or a movie premiere. So much media and entertainment is owned by big business that it doesn't require much imagination to believe that such stories are crafted to be a subtler form of advertising.
  • Don't Watch TV (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LoudMusic (199347) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:54PM (#15924423)
    Don't watch TV.

    Done. End of discussion. Can we move on now?
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @09:59PM (#15924444) Journal
    Not just 'fake' ones.

    Every single time I have ever had direct access to the truth of a news story I have found the reporting to be shoddy - ranging from quotes in a newspaper attributed to me from a company I quit two years earlier and claims that the company I work for is Australian (it was based in the US with no Australian office) or an entire article about my employer's partnership with a competitor (with zero basis in reality), to claims that a recent weightwatcher of the month (a friend of mine) used to eat many hamburgers a day (a complete fabrication). I regularly see my own employers making fabricated press releases that are reported as news with zero attempt at verification by reporters. Whatever level, whether it's business reporting or feel good local news, reporting is a web of lies. God knows how much truth there is in reporting from places like Iraq when they can't tell the truth about their own backyard.

  • On the TV end... (Score:5, Informative)

    by 7Prime (871679) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @10:51PM (#15924647) Homepage Journal

    I'm a television producer, mostly of commercial spots, but I've always been a very strong advocate of keeping news and advertising away from eachother. Unfortunately, the industry doesn't tend to agree. Promotions and other advertising schemes have been spilling into news in greater and greater quantities. This is especially true for soft news, or morning news, which is virtually a marketting team's playground. The Today Show did this whole "Wedding Giveaway" promotion, where they chose a couple to help fund their wedding, in exchange for them using certain advertisers, and following them through their wedding preparations. So my local station decides to do the same thing, on a local level. I must say, as a whole, it turned out quite well, but it made me feel icky having to make news packages that had contracts sitting behind them. I raised a lot of complaints to the general manager, the sales manager, and the news director about this, and none of them actually wanted to do it, but had basically convinced themselves that they had to do it for the company to stay alive.

    In another incident, one of our clients weasled her way into using some of our news footage for her commercial, and she pushed the general manager (who does some production) more and more, until he actually ended up using video of one of our anchors doing a tag, which goes against some of our basic principals. When the anchor found out about this, she was furious, and forced them to retract the ad. I went down to my boss and basically asked him, "What the hell were you thinking?" And the response was basically that he knew it was wrong at the time, but he couldn't figure out what to do, and added that the station was going to be pushing the envilope more and more just to keep afloat. I don't buy it for a second. I don't know what the hawks up at ClearChannel corporate have been feeding everyone, but there are other methods of advertising that work just as well. To appease the client (and at the same time, give her a big, "fuck you"), I setup one of our side rooms as a news studio, with a totally different backdrop, and one of our sales team as an anchor... and made it OBVIOUSLY fake. I did everything possible to keep it from looking anything like our news: I went as far as coming up with my own news color scheme, with lower thirds and over-the-shoulders to match... anything to keep this fucking ad away from looking like our news. Since this is a small town, and everyone knows the anchors, it would be immediately obvious that this was fake. Our client was furious. "What happened to the lower thirds? Why isn't it in the newsroom? What happened to the over-the-shoulders?". She didn't want to come out and say it, but she was wanting our news image to help sell her service.

    I'm not as concerned with actors posing as reporters, what I'm more concerned with, at this point, are reporters that are forced into the position of advertising as part of their news.

  • by mclaincausey (777353) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @06:29AM (#15925710) Homepage
    I don't like fake news in any form, but I think they should focus on false news coming out of the White House [] first.
  • by sweetnjguy29 (880256) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @08:49AM (#15926239) Journal
    One of the lesser known forms of journalitic bias is the use of press releases. A press release is an organisations take on an event. They spin facts to make the organization look great. Thats why PR departments always issue them...because they know they will always be printed verbatim in the newspaper. Usually with attribution though.

    Editors love press releases from the newswires and from the government. It frees up reporters to report on other stories, provides coverage in areas where you don't have reporters, and they come at a very low cost. Journalists love them because it makes writing a story a cinch! You change a few words here and there, add your own interview, and tada, in 15 minutes you have a local story from a national newswire story. You can see this in action if you read the headlines in more than one paper...all the stories are similar, because they are getting their news from the same sources! Think of press releases like using modules and libraries while coding.

    Corporate PR has gotten smart and started to make video press releases. Nothing wrong with this per se. But television news editors have gotten sloppy and forgot to attribute their sources. This is a huge no-no. Federal regulations require the disclosure as a condition of the license. When a broadcast covers a matter involving the discussion of a controversial issue of public importance furnished by any other entity, the broadcaster must make disclose this, and keep a list of the entity's governance on file for public inspection. Check out and the complaint made to the FCC at 6.pdf . Also check out tle47/part73.html and scroll down to section 1212 to read the actual regulation.

    Requiring a notification is not censorship and is not unconstitutional in my book. It is similar to the "This Campaign Ad was Paid for by Bill Clinton" requirements for TV ads. Broadcasting on the radio and on the TV is not a right. You need a license from the government. So, you have to follow the rules you promised to follow. If you break those rules, your going to be fined.

  • by alexandre (53) * on Thursday August 17, 2006 @09:40AM (#15926602) Homepage Journal
    Fox news is getting off the air? :P

"You can't get very far in this world without your dossier being there first." -- Arthur Miller