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Commercial News Items Still Going Strong

The ongoing controversy over video news releases has not stopped television stations from airing the fake news segments without attribution. Over six months, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) documented 46 stations in 22 states airing at least one VNR in their newscast. Of the 54 total VNR broadcasts described in this report, 48 provided no disclosure of the nature or source of the sponsored video. In the six other cases, disclosure was fleeting and often ambiguous. Ten of the TV stations named in this study were also cited in CMD's April 2006 "Fake TV News" report, for undisclosed VNR broadcasts. These findings suggest that station and industry codes of conduct—not to mention an ongoing investigation by the Federal Communications Commission—are not sufficient to ensure the public's right to know who seeks to persuade them via television news, the most widely used information source in the United States. Read More

The report includes:


Review: Paul Lappen "a first-rate gem of a book

We Know What You Want: How They Change Your Mind .: BookPleasures.com: "This is a first-rate gem of a book. It is really easy to read. While some mightconsider the information in this book common knowledge, it is still a rather spooky look at how well They have gotten inside our heads. It is very muchrecommended."

(Via Book Pleasures.)


Product placement you can't escape it

USATODAY.com - Product placement you can't escape it: "To hype the fall TV season, CBS plastered pictures of its shows' stars on postage stamps and across the insides of elevator doors. It laser-coated its eye logo on more than 35 million eggs, and carved the name of a new program, Jericho, into a 40-acre Kansas cornfield.
CBS (CBS) added those blips to the marketing storm sweeping the nation. Advertising is intruding on more previously untouched corners of life, including novels, hotel shower curtains, school buses and the bellies of pregnant women. Golfer Fred Couples is often followed around the course by a gaggle of woman paid to wear the name Bridgestone Golf, his sponsor.
It's advertising ad nauseam. And it's getting worse."


KidScreen Magazine

KidScreen Magazine: "KidScreen is a monthly business magazine serving the information needs and interests of all those involved in reaching children through entertainment. What makes KidScreen unique is its cross-media and cross-disciplinary approach combined with its exclusive focus upon the kids%u2019 market. In a single publication, this gives readers top-line information about all aspects of the increasingly inter-related aspects of their industry."


Disease Mongering

Scary Evidence - Center for Media and Democracy: "British Columbia's Deputy Minister of Health, Gordon Macatee, ordered a lunchtime presentation on disease mongering cancelled until a drug industry speaker could be added. University of Victoria health researcher Alan Cassels was surprised that the ministry was so sensitive about a discussion on the book he co-authored, Selling Sickness: How the World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients."

(Via PR Watch.)


Architecural Tricks To Control Users

Architecural Tricks To Control Users: "Ever wandered into a shop looking to buy a few things on your list, only to find yourself coming out with twice as much? You may not be aware, but the reason for this is not sheer chance, or that you were just feeling frivolous. The retail industry spends hard time and money into creating all sorts of devious little means to make you shop that bit extra. Every penny you spend in their shop is not being spent at their rivals, and in the high stakes of today%u2019s competitive market, every penny counts.... an A-Z of retail tricks that we have compiled to empower you before you go out shopping, so that you can buy what you need and collapse our economy!"

(Via Consumerist.)

Architectures of Control

Increasingly, many products are being designed with features that intentionally restrict the way the user can behave, or enforce certain modes of behaviour. The same intentions are also evident in the design of many systems and environments. This site aims—with readers’ input—to examine and analyse the ideas and techniques of these architectures of control in design, through examples and anecdotes, and by keeping up-to-date with relevant developments. Link.


MediaCart Shopping-Cart Ad System

Advertising Age - Research Team Develops Shopping-Cart Ad System: " Each video screen is embedded with an RFID chip that interacts with chips installed on store shelves about every two feet. Without it, there would be no way to create point-of-decision advertising -- so a shopper strolling in the soda aisle would get an offer for Pepsi, for example -- a capability that could radically upend conventional in-store marketing practices... Beyond advertising, the system also promises to offer data insights long sought by consumer-product marketers. 'This will give you second-by-second data on shopping habits, dwell times, what aisles shoppers go down,' Mr. Kramer said. 'That's information that has never before been available.' "

(Via Ad Age.)


Product Placement in Superman Returns

Product Placement in Superman Returns: "As Superman returns from a five-year sabbatical to find himself, Metropolis is buzzing with Samsung devices. The consumer electronics brand reportedly provided the film with a record 274 digital products. From LCD television screens in the Daily Planet office to computer monitors and printers to cell phones to fax machines, it seems Samsung is the real conqueror of Metropolis. Even with all the products in the film, Samsung had a rather seamless integration. Logos weren%u2019t always apparent and in your face, although Budweiser stood out like crystals laced with radioactive kryptonite. Apparently, %u201Ctruth, justice and all that stuff%u201D doesn%u2019t include abstinence. After finding out that the love of his life, Lois, is engaged and has a 5-year-old son, %u201CThe Man of Steel%u201D heads to the local bar and gets tipsy from drinking a Budweiser. Other honorable brandcameo mentions: Belstaff jackets for the bad guys and Virgin Galactic premiering its aircraft in one of the crucial action scenes.
Featured Brands: Featured Brands: Audi, Avaya, Belstaff, Bose, Budweiser, Graco, Grey Goose, Mountain Dew, Nikon, Oakland A's, Plantronics, Samsung, Scrabble, Steinway & Sons, Virgin "

(Via Brand Cameo.)

Bloggers paid to push products.

Bloggers are getting paid to push products. : "Murphy is launching PayPerPost.com, which will automate such hookups between advertisers and bloggers and thus codify a new frontier of product placement. Advertisers pay to post details about their 'opportunity,' specifying, among other things, how they want bloggers to write about, say, a new shoe, if they want photos to be included, and whether they'll pay only for positive mentions. Bloggers who abide by the rules get paid; heavily trafficked blogs may command premium rates. Those seeking to subvert PayPerPost from within can't: No pornographic or 'illicit' content is accepted."

(Via PR Watch) .)


Media Manipulation - Global Issues

Media Manipulation - Global Issues: "The media is manipulated in all manners, for example through professional public relations (PR), and covert and overt government propaganda which disseminates propaganda as news. What are often deemed as credible news sources can often knowingly or unknowingly be pushing political agendas and propaganda."

Street Level Product Placement

'Reality-based product placement' is here. The car maker Jaguar's new marketing strategy is to give 'its high-end cars to jet-setters' in major cities, for free. In Manhattan, Nico Bossi and his Jaguar XK 'show up at all the right places, such as ... hangouts in New York's trendy meatpacking district.' According to the Wall Street Journal, 'Many people ask about the car, but Mr. Bossi doesn't reveal his Jaguar deal. ... Sometimes, he takes people who are really interested for a spin.' The deal was brokered by the PR firm Brandman Agency. Firm owner Melanie Brandman said the arrangement 'makes the advertisements come to life.' Bossi gives the firm 'updates on where he goes each week.' In similar but smaller programs, General Motors 'chauffeured VIPs around the Super Bowl in Detroit earlier this year' and DaimlerChrysler 'lent out the new Mercedes-Benz R Class SUVs to selected consumers for a week.'

Wall Street Journal (sub req'd), June 29, 2006
(Link Via PR Watch's Spin of the Day.)


The Tangled Web of Doctors, Drug Companies and Charities

The Tangled Web of Doctors, Drug Companies and Charities: "

'Around the country, doctors in private practice have set up tax-exempt charities into which drug companies and medical device makers are, with little fanfare, pouring donations — money that adds up to millions of dollars a year,' Reed Abelson reports in the New York Times. Concern has been raised that the funding can bias medical decisions, create conflicts of interest which aren't disclosed to patients and potentially skew research results in favour of the funder. 'There's undoubtedly corruption in the system,' Dr. Cherf said. 'We need healthy relationships between physicians and industry. Both parties have been too aggressive.'

Website: New York Times, June 28, 2006
URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/28/business/28foundation.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1151553743-sljrvFovoMv7eiGnYP9hDw

(Via PR Watch's Spin of the Day.)


White House News Forgeries Widespread

"White House News Forgeries Widespread": "To a viewer, each report looked like any other 90-second segment on the local news. In fact, the federal government produced all three. The report from Kansas City was made by the State Department. The 'reporter' covering airport safety was actually a public relations professional working under a false name for the Transportation Security Administration. The farming segment was done by the Agriculture Department's office of communications."

(Via truthout.org .)


Comic books the next frontier for product placement

Comic books the next frontier for product placement - AdJab: "Comic books the next frontier for product placementPosted Apr 19th 2006 9:19AM by Chris ThilkFiled under: Product PlacementBoth Marvel and DC, the two largest comic book
publishers, have signed deals that will integrate product placement in the issues of some of their titles. DC will have a new hero called The Rush drive a Pontiac that the publisher says is just as important to that character as the Aston Martin is to James Bond. Marvel is jumping in whole hog by putting the Nike swoosh logo in a variety of places such as car doors and character

Bush 'planted fake news stories on American TV'

Independent Online Edition > Americas: "Federal authorities are actively investigating dozens of American television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news. Some of the fake news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies' products."


Fake TV News Report Now in PDF Form

"Fake TV News" Report Now in PDF Form: "

With the U.S. Federal Communications Commission investigating the television stations that CMD documented airing corporate video news releases, you might want to read through the report that started it all. Luckily, 'Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed' is now available in PDF format! Download it from our website, print it out and take it along on your summer holiday. It's 114 pages long -- chock full of important information, harrowing tales of media deception, and some great puns. The URL to download the report is: www.prwatch.org/pdfs/NFNPDFExt6.pdf

Website: Center for Media and Democracy, May 26, 2006
URL: http://www.prwatch.org/pdfs/NFNPDFExt6.pdf

(Via PR Watch's Spin of the Day.)

I Sold It Through The Grapevine

I Sold It Through The Grapevine: "Not even small talk is sacred anymore. P&G has enlisted a stealth army of 600,000 moms who chat up its products... The program is a state-of-the-art method for reaching the most influential group of shoppers in America: moms. At a time when companies need to find creative ways to get their message across to consumers, it's likely to be widely studied. But Vocalpoint also raises a serious ethical issue: Should the person spreading the product message disclose her affiliation? P&G says it's up to such "connectors" to make that decision on their own. But this puts the company at odds with the recently formed Word of Mouth Marketing Assn. (WOMMA), which mandates full disclosure.

(Via Adrants.)


Astroturf site from telcos' PR company against Net Neutrality

Astroturf site from telcos' PR company against Net Neutrality: "Cory Doctorow:
Astroturf site from telcos' PR company against Net Neutrality: "Cory Doctorow:
Neil found a site called 'HandsOff.org' that seems to be a grass-roots campaign from 'a nationwide coalition of Internet users' against Internet regulation. On closer inspection, though: 'it's nothing more than a front for business interests that was set up by a PR company called the Mercury Group. If you've ever wondered why government seems so far removed from the will of the people, the existence of 'astroturf' campaigns like this go some way to explaining why.'


MaxedOutBuzz.com - Home

MaxedOutBuzz.com - Home:

"Maxed Out shows how the modern financial industry really works, explains the true definition of "preferred customer" and tells us why the poor are getting poorer and the rich getting richer. By turns hilarious and profoundly disturbing, Maxed Out paints a picture of a national nightmare which is all too real for most of us."

(Via www.maxedoutmovie.com .)


Covert Recruiting Video in Schools, on Planes and TV

Covert Recruiting Video in Schools, on Planes and TV: "

Today's Military screenshot
One Navy officer profiled in 'Today's Military,' who's a liaison to TV and movie studios
United Airlines' new in-flight video 'was produced and funded by the Department of Defense -- a fact passengers do not learn from watching it,' reports Jason George. The 13-minute segment, 'Today's Military,' profiles five 'military glamor jobs.' It shows only 'one soldier beyond U.S. borders,' who's 'doing humanitarian work in Thailand' -- a remarkable focus at a time of war. The Defense Department paid United $36,000 to run the video for one month. A United spokesperson said 'between 7 to 15 minutes' of their two-hour programming is sponsored video. The military video was excerpted from a 48-minute feature, produced by the Mullen firm, that's aired on at least two Illinois TV stations: Springfield's ABC and Peoria's UPN affiliates. The feature 'does not say who produced it until the final credits roll' and the Defense Human Resources Activity is listed. The goal is to educate 'influencers,' including parents and teachers. 'This fall, 40,000 copies' of the feature 'will be shipped to high school guidance counselors for distribution to students.'

Website: Chicago Tribune, May 6, 2006
URL: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0605060077may06,1,212661.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

(Via PR Watch's Spin of the Day.)


Review by Mike Gange

An Island in the Media Stream:

"Most of these releases are aimed at adult readers, and while they contain ideas that may be useful in the classroom, they are more likely to end up as a library selection than a day-to-day classroom resource. We Know What You Want: How They Change Your Mind by Martin Howard would be one of the few surprising exceptions. Not only does it stand out from the others in the flood by proving to be enlightening for adults and students, it contains items that could be used alone or as part of a unit on media education... Part of the beauty of We Know What You Want: How They Change Your Mind is that it will teach both leaders and learners in the classroom and serve parents and kids in the home... Another appealing aspect of this book is the use of graphics that will help get the point across. Maybe the best part of the book, however, is its tone: it teaches us what to think about, without preaching to us about what to think. In that regard then, We Know What You Want: How They Change Your Mind is a stand out."


Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi

Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi: "The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military documents and officers familiar with the program. The effort has raised his profile in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have overstated his importance and helped the Bush administration tie the war to the organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."

(Via Washington Post.)

Pentagon fabricating Zarqawi Legend

Who is behind "Al Qaeda in Iraq"? Pentagon acknowledges fabricating a "Zarqawi Legend": "Pentagon PSYOP Zarqawi Program

In an unusual twist, the Washington Post in a recent article, has acknowledged that the role of Zarqawi had been deliberately "magnified" by the Pentagon with a view to galvanizing public support for the US-UK led "war on terrorism":

"The Zarqawi campaign is discussed in several of the internal military documents. "Villainize Zarqawi/leverage xenophobia response," one U.S. military briefing from 2004 stated. It listed three methods: "Media operations," "Special Ops (626)" (a reference to Task Force 626, an elite U.S. military unit assigned primarily to hunt in Iraq for senior officials in Hussein's government) and "PSYOP," the U.S. military term for propaganda work..." (WP. 10 April 2006)

(Via Global Research.)


Monitoring Health Care Journalism

Web Site Rates Health Care Journalism - Yahoo! News: "Newspaper and magazine health coverage will be reviewed online at a new Web site beginning Monday. Access to the site and its findings, http://www.HealthNewsReview.org, is free and open to consumers. It was created by University of Minnesota journalism professor Gary Schwitzer, who fashioned the site after similar efforts in Australia and Canada."


Examples of actual VNRs

Video Downloads: Video News Releases Examples of actual VNRs. While these 36 examples represent less than one percent of VNRs offered to newsrooms each year, this report provides the most comprehensive survey of fake TV news to date."

(Via PR Watch.)

Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed - Center for Media and Democracy

Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed - Center for Media and Democracy: "Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed
A multimedia report on television newsrooms' use of material provided by PR firms on behalf of paying clients"

Over a ten-month period, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) documented television newsrooms' use of 36 video news releases (VNRs)—a small sample of the thousands produced each year. CMD identified 77 television stations, from those in the largest to the smallest markets, that aired these VNRs or related satellite media tours (SMTs) in 98 separate instances, without disclosure to viewers.


Mass Media Cover-ups

Mass Media: "a 10-page summary of revealing accounts by 20 award-winning journalists from the book Into the Buzzsaw, compiled Kristina Borjesson. All of these courageous writers were prevented by corporate mass media ownership from reporting major news stories. Some were even fired or laid off. These journalists have won numerous awards, including several Emmys and a Pulitzer."

(Via Want To Know.)

On TV News, the Ads Never End (Part Two)

On TV News, the Ads Never End (Part Two): "

'With TV stations facing increased competition and pressure on advertising revenue ... product placement, media and branded entertainment agencies say they are increasingly being pitched opportunities from local stations to integrate their clients' products into news programing in exchange for buying commercial time or paying integration fees,' reports Gail Schiller. KRON-TV in San Francisco, KMEX-TV in Los Angeles, and KPTV-TV in Portland 'confirmed that they have integrated advertisers into their newscasts.' KCAL-TV in Los Angeles and Gannett NBC affiliates in Denver, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Cleveland 'are experimenting with integration into newsmagazine-type shows that they describe as entertainment rather than news.' Recently, ABC's 'Good Morning America' broadcast from a cruise ship. The cruise company 'did not pay integration fees,' but 'did foot the bill for airfare, room and board to send nearly 300 women,' who won an ABC contest, on the cruise. Radio-Television News Directors Association president Barbara Cochran warned, 'If viewers start thinking your news is for sale, then the credibility of your news is lost and your audience is lost.'

Website: Reuters, March 15, 2006
URL: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060316/tv_nm/newscasts_dc_1

(Via PR Watch's Spin of the Day.)


The Catalogue

The Catalogue: "This is great! This excellent independent video production looks like the not too distant future of tagged humans and a society without privacy.Requires Apple Quicktime… The Catalogue

(Via Freedom Is Slavery.)


Bush's State of Propaganda Speech

Bush's State of Propaganda Speech: "r. Bush threw out a dizzying array of misleading analogies, propaganda slogans and false choices. Congress authorized the president to spy on Americans and knew all about it ... 9/11 could have been prevented by warrantless spying ... you can't fight terrorism and also obey the law ... and Democrats are not just soft on national defense, they actually don't want to beat Al Qaeda. "(Via Propaganda&Media edstrong.)


Subservient Donald

MIT Brand Culture Convergence: Blog: "Writers Guild of America that pushes for limits on product placement has launched a Subservient Donald website as part of a larger campaign. The Donald dances, shows off pantyhose he's wearing, and sells paper towels."

(Via .)

Think Tanks Compassionate Conservativism

Think Tanks Compassionate Conservativism: "

As the toll mounts from U.S. political scandals, think tanks have provided new homes to some of the fallen. The Hudson Institute has appointed
I. Lewis Scooter Libby as 'a senior adviser'. In October 2005 Libby resigned from his position as Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney after being indicted on five counts including obstruction of justice. 'Libby will focus on issues relating to the War on Terror and the future of Asia. He also will offer research guidance and will advise the institute in strategic planning,' the think tank stated. In mid-December Doug Bandow resigned from both his role at the Cato Institute and as syndicated columnist with Copley News Service after revelations that he had accepted payments from lobbyist Jack Abramoff. On January 1 Bandow started as vice president of policy at Citizen Outreach, a group that favours 'limited-government public policies'.

Website: Hudson Institute Media Release, January 6, 2006.

URL: http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=58926


(Via PR Watch's Spin of the Day.)


Pentagon OK's Online Propaganda - Center for Media...

Pentagon OK's Online Propaganda - Center for Media and Democracy: "'U.S. military websites that pay journalists to write articles and commentary supporting military activities in Europe and Africa do not violate U.S. law or Pentagon policies,' concluded the Pentagon's inspector general. The websites, the Southeast European Times (launched in 1999 by President Clinton) and Magharebia (launched in 2004 by President Bush), often use 'freelance reporters hired by Anteon Corp.' The U.S. military's Pacific Command in Asia and Central Command in the Middle East are also developing 'regional information websites.' The Pentagon inspector general's report did not address the fact that U.S. audiences, which the government is forbidden from propagandizing, can access the websites. A related investigation into Pentagon-planted stories in Iraqi newspapers, headed by Navy Rear Adm. Scott R. Van Buskirk, is expected to be completed soon."

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Influence Peddlers Pass Out Billions in Washington...

Influence Peddlers Pass Out Billions in Washington: "Special interests and the lobbyists they employ have reported spending, since 1998, a total of almost $13 billion to influence Congress, the White House and more than 200 federal agencies."

Dvorak Uncensored

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The 2005 Falsies Awards

It Was a Very False Year: The 2005 Falsies Awards - Center for Media and Democracy: "Over the past twelve months, the ideal of accurate, accountable, civic-minded news media faced nearly constant attack. Fake news abounded, from Pentagon-planted stories in Iraqi newspapers to corporate- and government-funded video news releases aired by U.S. newsrooms. Enough payola pundits surfaced to constitute their own basketball team -- Doug Bandow, Peter Ferrara, Maggie Gallagher, Michael McManus and Armstrong Williams. (They could call themselves the 'Syndicated Shills.')"

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