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Pay to Play…

The Wall Street Journal on the use of third party spokespeople. Something I think most intelligent viewers are aware of  but a practice nevertheless, that isn’t in the least but transparent.

In November, Child magazine’s Technology Editor James Oppenheim appeared on a local television show in Austin, Texas, and reviewed educational gadgets and toys. He praised "My ABC’s Picture Book," a personalized photo album from Eastman Kodak Co.

"Considering what you showed me, kids’ games really don’t have to be violent," said the anchor for KVUE, an ABC affiliate and the No. 1-rated television station in its market.

"If…you’re not careful, they will be," Mr. Oppenheim replied. "That’s why I’ve shown you some of the best."

There was one detail the audience didn’t know: Kodak paid Mr. Oppenheim to mention the photo album, according to the company and Mr. Oppenheim. – WSJ, April 19, 2005

Now I’ve been pretty harsh in my comments regarding the Bush Administration’s use of paid spokespeople and VNRs without any kind of transparancy. Commercially this has been happening for decades. So at what point does the PR industry issue some guidelines on transparency and correct this erroneous practice. The Government has set the standard’s bar low enough that you could pretty much roll over it.

And at what point does the media – especially the broadcasters – step-up and do their job of fair and balanced reporting. Tell us where the "independent expert" is being paid to speak to a particular brand or product. If you want out loyalty and trust, you are going to have to earn it. We the people expect more. Dan has more on this.

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