TV "Expert" Doesn't Disclose His Fellow Travelers

Florida's Broward County paid a travel writer $10,000 to mention Fort Lauderdale, "during a summer media tour that took him to 16 news stations in 37 days," reports the Miami Herald. Joel Widzer "seemed to have little trouble finding stations willing to interview him and air the footage of Fort Lauderdale's coral reefs and spas that the public relations firm, Plus Media, provided producers. A follow-up report ... said Widzer mentioned the destination in 20 television interviews from Tampa Bay to Albuquerque, reaching an estimated 430,000 viewers." One station contacted by the Miami Herald about airing Widzer's pitch, WXIX-19 in Cincinnati, admitted that "the segment violated station policy," because while "the producer knew the destinations Widzer mentioned were also sponsoring his tour, viewers weren't told of the connection." Of course, many paid spokespeople pose as impartial consumer experts. "Travel Mom" for hire Emily Kaufman told the Miami Herald, "There's a good market for it." DWJ Television has had nurse Lynne Griffin promote Colgate, Cepacol and Pfizer products, and companies can buy mentions in an upcoming media tour produced by Gourvitz Communications for between $10,000 and $12,000.