LOS ANGELES: Despite the recent outcry over government use of video news releases, the state of California has launched an effort to make VNR production easier for all government departments.
It was that effort that helped produce the widely criticized VNR promoting one of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) pet legislative initiatives. Critics claim that the release was unfairly one-sided and hence an improper use of taxpayer funds.
Tim Herrera, multimedia communications specialist for the California Department of General Services, was appointed by Schwarzenegger at the start of the year. Part of his job involves helping government agencies share resources that enable them to produce VNRs and other broadcast materials.
"What I've been tasked with doing is trying to coordinate video services within the entire state of California for all agencies," he said. "We're trying to find a way to have the best coordination possible of state resources."
Herrera explained that while some divisions have television specialists on staff, others do not. He will help agencies without resources to use the editing skills and other production tools of unrelated divisions.
Herrera said he has already worked on projects for the Department of Corrections and the Department of Consumer Affairs, and that his team is very careful to properly label them as government products.
"The way we produce our VNRs, we are very up-front with what these are," he said. "The very first slate says, 'The following video news release is from' and then it names the department. It's up there, it's the very first thing."
Regarding the recently criticized state VNR, produced for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, he cited the media's responsibility to filter delivered content.
"It's not like the state broadcasts these VNRs directly into the homes of viewers," Herrera said. "These VNRs were made available via local television stations who can do whatever they want with them.
"There's no expectation that [the VNR] is going to run in full," he added.
Nonetheless, state Assemblyman Paul Koretz has called for an investigation into the release's production.
"It crosses the line from press release to complete propaganda," said Koretz. "Producing propaganda at a government-level office violates state code."