the_news_is,_that_pitch_was_paid_for-latimes - The news is...

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advertisement,0,370372.column The news is, that pitch was paid for When spokespersons for hire promote products on local TV news shows. James Rainey September 15, 2010 With summer ending, local television news stations recently rolled out their back-to- school features. In 10 big cities, that meant an appearance by a young mother and "toy expert" named Elizabeth Werner. Werner whipped through pitches for seven toys in just a few minutes. Perky and positive-plus, Werner seemed to wow morning news people in towns like Detroit, Atlanta and Phoenix. They oohed and aahed as they smelled Play-Doh, poked at mechanical bugs and strummed an electronic guitar she brought to the studio. Though parents might have welcomed the advice, and even bought some of the toys, they probably would have liked to know that Werner serves as a spokeswoman for hire, not an independent consumer advocate. She touted only products from companies that forked over $11,000 (the initial asking price, anyway) to be part of her back-to-school television "tour." But viewers in several of the cities would have had no way of knowing that Werner's pitches amounted to paid advertising, because their local news stations failed to meet their legal obligation to identify the segments as paid promotions. Local television news has become a hotbed for pay-to-play promotions. I've previously chronicled how L.A. stations offered breathless stories about City of Hope Medical Center and Ford Motor Co. without telling viewers that the subjects of these "news" stories actually paid to get star treatment. The trend promises to continue and grow. TV news producers must fill an expanding news hole, particularly in the mornings, where many news programs have been extended from three to four, five and even six hours. And advertisers, fearful of being blocked by viewers with video recorders and mute buttons, don't mind paying for promotional appearances that make them more visible and credible. The practice goes way beyond Los Angeles and a product or two. Be warned if you are watching a self-proclaimed consumer advocate on
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the_news_is,_that_pitch_was_paid_for-latimes - The news is...

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