ITN chief calls for fewer VNRs and more access

The rapid growth in video news releases has been attacked by ITN’s editor-in-chief, Richard Tait, as ’a very serious issue which we must address’.

The rapid growth in video news releases has been attacked by ITN’s

editor-in-chief, Richard Tait, as ’a very serious issue which we must

address’.



He was speaking in Berlin at News World ’97, the annual conference of

the international TV news industry.



’We want more access, not more VNRs. I am interested in journalism not

advertisements,’ said Tait, who called for more openness by big

corporations and for broadcasters to ’keep their nerve’.



But during a debate entitled Third Hand News, chaired by BBC’s Peter

Snow, other television executives were less hostile to the rise of

VNRs.



The head of CBC News in Canada, Kelly Crighton, said: ’These things are

inevitable. We probably use more corporate material than we think we

do ... It depends on how honest they (VNR producers) are. We need to

know if so-called independent producers are truly independent, and we

should always label VNR material clearly for the viewers.’



Anthony Hayward of the VNR supplier Bulletin International vigorously

defended the use of video by companies, arguing that ’video news

release’ was a confusing phrase, preferring to say ’background

material’.



He believes that ’videos simply help broadcasters to illustrate press

releases. Very often it is a win-win situation. Broadcasters often can’t

afford to send a crew to a press conference, or to shoot production line

pictures at short notice.’



Larry Moskowitz, president of Medialink, insisted that VNRs help

journalists, adding: ’This battle for influence over the news has

probably been going on forever. The runner from Marathon to Athens was

probably carrying a press release. Today it would be a cassette.’



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