When television stations take the "'quick and dirty' route to health news coverage" by airing sponsored videos produced by public relations firms or other companies, it's a real problem, writes journalism professor Gary Schwitzer. For example, Ivanhoe Broadcast News (which was mentioned in the Center for Media and Democracy's "Fake TV News" report) puts out "single source stories with one spokesman from one institution touting one idea," complete with PR contacts. Yet, the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) -- which is supposed to set "standards of newsgathering" -- recently partnered with Ivanhoe. RTNDA's foundation is offering "two new training opportunities for journalists": a three-month internship providing "professional training in health reporting at Ivanhoe headquarters," and a two-week fellowship "to travel to the Ivanhoe headquarters to focus on health and medical reporting." Schwitzer asks, "Why doesn't RTNDA partner with the NIH Medicine in the Media workshop or the MIT Science Journalism Fellowships or with the Association of Health Care Journalists or with [the University of Minnesota's] HealthNewsReview.org project?" RTNDA has sided with the Public Relations Society of America, in opposing attempts to ensure that video news releases are disclosed to news viewers.
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