All the News That's Just Fed

Why do local TV news stations use fake video news releases? Political science professor Marion Just and Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism surveyed stations and found that the audience for TV news is shrinking, while "the companies that own these stations have generally continued to expect high earnings, usually profit margins in excess of 40 percent. To meet those demands, most stations have added programming, usually without adding resources. ... From 1998 to 2002, a study of 33,911 television reports found, the percentage of 'feed' material from third-party sources rose to 23 percent of all reports from 14 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of stories that included a local correspondent fell to 43 percent from 62 percent. ... So we don't have to search far to discover why the Bush administration has succeeded so well in getting its news releases on the air. The public companies that own TV stations are so intent on increasing their stock price and pleasing their shareholders that they are squeezing the news out of the news business."