The controversial practice of releasing “fake” news stories and sending them for free to content-starved small local news stations is common in many industries. These Video News Releases (called VNRs) are often aired on these stations as real news, often without any attribution or disclaimers to reveal that the stories were paid for and produced by private companies. This tactic is also used by global warming skeptics.
“Global Warming and Hurricanes: All Hot Air?”
After Hurricane Katrina hit, this VNR, which aims to dispel the notion that climate change adds to the strength of hurricanes, was distributed to local news stations.
WTOK News Report
This is the resulting story that ran, unattributed, on a TV news broadcast in Meridian, Mississippi.
Where did it come from?
According to an investigation by PR Watch, this VNR was produced in June 2006 by Medialink Worldwide for TCS Daily Science Roundtable, a website published by Tech Central Station. Tech Central Station was a project of DCI Group, a conservative lobbying and consultant group that has included ExxonMobil as one of its clients. In addition, ExxonMobil gave a donation of $95,000 to the Tech Central Science Foundation in 2003 for “Climate Change Support,” according to Greenpeace.