Work Woes at WBFS-33
South Florida newscast uses a station reporter to disguise corporate PR as journalism
|Clients: Towers Perrin|
|Release Date: March 2006|
|Aired By: 2 stations|
|Disclosed By: No stations|
On March 20, 2006, WBFS-33 took active steps to deceive its morning audience. The Miami/Fort Lauderdale UPN affiliate ran a taped segment on job dissatisfaction that—unbeknownst to viewers—was lifted frame-by-frame from a video news release (VNR) funded by a worldwide management consulting firm.
To help position themselves as a leading expert in workforce efficiency, Towers Perrin hired D S Simon Productions to create a two-minute news-like VNR on how companies can increase their rate of employee retention. The segment included advice from two managing directors at Towers Perrin, and quoted numerous figures from a Towers Perrin workplace survey.
The VNR was announced and distributed to newsrooms on March 15. Five days later, under the banner of "WORK WOES," WBFS morning morning anchors Jade Alexander and Angela Rae introduced the VNR as if it were a genuine station report. To further mask the VNR as their own journalism, editors at WBFS inserted network-branded graphics and enlisted an unnamed staff reporter to replace the narrative voiceover of D S Simon's Sonia Martin.
Despite the adjustments, the WBFS story matched the original VNR shot-for-shot, and the reporter re-voice followed the original publicist script (PDF) word-for-word. At no time did Alexander, Rae or anyone else of WBFS disclose to viewers that the story was entirely paid for and provided by Towers Perrin.
The VNR was also incorporated into the March 16 newscast of KOKH-25, (Oklahoma City, OK). The station has been observed on five other occasions airing complete and undisclosed VNRs from Trend Micro Software, Panasonic, Intel, Cadillac, and Chemistry.com.
View the original VNR, as well as the WBFS news feature, below.
|Original Towers Perrin VNR||WBFS-33 8AM newscast|
|Created by D S Simon Productions||March 20, 2006|
|Voiced by publicist||VNR re-voiced by station reporter|