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VNRs – The Use of Video News Releases on Broadcast TV News

September 22, 2009

In recent years it has become common practice for TV news agencies to use what are known as Video News Releases (VNR). A VNR is a “news” story that is created by an advertising agency or public relations firm that essentially promotes a product or company.

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TV stations will sometime use a VNR that are sent to them or they will use parts of the VNR and edit in their own take on the story with a local focus. An example of the use of a VNR on local TV news in the West Michigan market is this story that WZZM 13 recently aired about what to think about when buying a cell phone for your children before they go back to school. While channel 13 did interview some of the people in the story, they clearly used VNR provided footage on the use of cell phones, particularly for text messaging. The only sources used in this story are spokespersons from Sprint, Verizon and AT&T, which essentially make this story a commercial for these phone companies.

Some of the best documentation on the use of VNRs in the US has been done by the Center for Media & Democracy. They provide good research and lots of resources, along with examples of recent VNR use around the country.

GRIID has dissected locally used VNRs over the years and even created this satirical video that is selling what we call the VNR Detector.

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