Fake News for a Good Cause?

"CBS affiliate WUSA-TV was charging the [Washington] DC government as much as $100,000 annually to promote breast cancer awareness during newscasts." From 2002 to 2004, anchors at the Gannett-owned station were required to encourage viewers to go to the station's website for information about breast cancer - next to a banner ad for the city's Human Services Department. Through their "Buddy Check 9" program, the TV station also encouraged viewers to remind women friends or family members to perform self-exams for breast cancer. The city's contracts with the station, obtained by The Washington Times, specify payments were for "on-air mentions ... of the Buddy Check 9 program" and of the station's website, "for the Department of Human Services' banner." The station's manager said, "We did not sell news time," but the chair of the Society of Professional Journalists' ethics committee said the "line between what's news coverage and what's paid advertising" needs to be "fairly distinct."