Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Monday, May 16, 2005

GAO Says "No" to Some Video News Releases

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) looked at the use of prepackaged news stories distributed by federal agencies to local television stations' news departments. These stories, known as video news releases (VNR), are made to resemble very closely locally produced news stories. What the GAO concluded was:

"While agencies generally have the right to disseminate information about their policies and activities, agencies may not use appropriated funds to produce or distribute prepackaged news stories intended to be viewed by television audiences that conceal or do not clearly identify for the television viewing audience that the agency was the source of those materials. It is not enough that the contents of an agency's communication may be unobjectionable. Neither is it enough for an agency to identify itself to the broadcasting organization as the source of the prepackaged news story."

In other words, news programs about the government prepared by the government must have their origin clearly disclosed to the viewers. GAO also concluded that some of the federally prepared VNRs it examined violated the publicity or propaganda provisions of federal law.

The GAO testimony Video News Releases - Unattributed Prepackaged News Stories Violate Publicity or Propaganda Provision was released on May 12, 2005.


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