Inorganic Chemistry at KOKH
Sinclair Fox station has an unhealthy relationship with fake news
|Release Date: February 2006
|Aired By: 1 station
|Disclosed By: No stations
"With Valentine's Day around the corner, love is on the minds of many," said KOKH-25 anchor Kris Roberts, as he introduced the next story. What viewers didn't know is that every word in his teleprompter was provided by publicists, and the report that followed was nothing more than a pre-packaged stealth ad for an online dating service.
To herald its new Chemistry.com spinoff site, Match.com hired D S Simon Productions to create a video news release (VNR) about "the chemistry of love." The 102-second video package included soundbites from Tim Demik and Diane Millaway, two users of the service; Kristin Kelly, a spokeswoman for Chemistry.com; and Dr. Helen Fisher, an author and anthropologist who has studied the science of love and attraction for 25 years. The second half of the VNR provided a visual demonstration of Chemistry.com's "patented 1-2-3-Meet system," which is described as relying more on chemical instinct than traditional dating criteria.
Once again, KOKH-25 actively deceived their audience by taking the complete and uncut VNR and working it into their newscast without a single trace of disclosure. Editors inserted network-branded graphic overlays onto the video and Roberts introduced narrating publicist Jim Lawrence as if he were a station reporter.
In the course of its ten-month study, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) documented KOKH-25 airing six VNRs—a staggeringly high number, given that CMD documented TV newsrooms' use of 36 VNRs (thousands are produced each year). In addition to Chemistry.com, KOKH-25 aired complete pre-packaged VNRs from Trend Micro Software, Panasonic, Intel, Cadillac, and Towers Perrin.
View the original VNR, as well as the KOKH-25 feature, below.
|Original Chemistry.com VNR
|KOKH-25 9PM newscast
|Created by D S Simon Productions
|February 11, 2006
|Voiced by publicist
|Complete VNR voiced by publicist