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Barbara Cochran

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According to the website of the Radio-Television News Directors Association and Foundation, " Barbara Cochran has been president of RTNDA and RTNDF since 1997. ... Before joining RTNDA/F, she held the following positions: Vice president and Washington bureau chief, CBS News; Executive producer, NBC's Meet the Press; Vice president of news, National Public Radio; and, Managing editor, Washington Star. ... Cochran is a founding board member of the International Women's Media Foundation and serves on the National Advisory Board of the Poynter Institute, the Board of Visitors of the University of Maryland College of Journalism, the Advisory Committee of the Newseum, and the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. She is a juror for the DuPont-Columbia Awards and the Peabody Awards. ... She and her husband John Cochran, senior correspondent for ABC News, live in Washington." [1]

Barbara Cochran Defending & Denying Fake TV News

Barbara Cochran has been a staunch defender and denier of the widespread and undisclosed use of radio and TV fake news, video news releases and audio news releases by TV and radio news directors.

In an April 2005 interview Barabara Conchran argued against mandatory on-screen identification of video news releases so the viewer was informed of the origin of the material. While acknowledging that VNR material "is now flooding into stations from all different directions" she downplayed the extent of its use. "I don't think we really know how prevalent that [use of VNRs] is," she said. [2]

"You know, I think, again, the number of instances in which this material has actually been used are so few, relatively speaking, compared to all the information that goes out over the air all the time on so many local television stations," she claimed.

Use of VNR material, Cochrane argued, was permissable under the RTNDA code as long as it was "included in something that is reported and originated by the journalists at that station".

"If a government video news release is used, it needs to be clearly labeled," she said though remaining silent on the issue of corporate VNRs. Nor does she support the Federal Communications Commission requiring stations to disclose VNRs. "I think that this is something that stations need to solve for themselves. It's in the station's interest to protect its credibility," she said.

In a June, 2005, interview with the Washington Times, Cochran ridiculed charges that the use of Fake TV news is widespread and undisclosed. Chris Baker reported that "The Radio-Television News Directors Association, a group that represents top newsroom managers, submitted a 13-page statement [to the Federal Communications Commission] that said few TV stations air VNRs, and those that do almost always identify the source. The association based its position on an informal survey of 100 members, according to Barbara Cochran, the group's president. Concrete data on VNR use is hard to come by, she said. " It's kind of like the Loch Ness Monster. Everyone talks about it, but not many people have actually seen it," Ms. Cochran said. [3]

However, following the release of the Center for Media and Democracy report Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed Cochran conceded there was a substantial problem. "We had good reason to think that many of the video examples posted on the CMD website were simple errors, not deliberate attempts to fool the public, but the similarities between newscast stories and VNRs were embarrassing," said Cochran in a statement. [4] (sub req'd)

Of the FCC probe into non-disclosure of VNR sponsorship, Cochran said her group "opposes any attempt to regulate the form of identification and said those decisions are clearly part of the First Amendment." [5] (sub req'd)

Contact details

Barbara Cochran, President
Radio-Television News Directors Association
Radio and Television News Directors Foundation
1600 K Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20006-2838
Phone: (202) 659-6510
FaxFax: (202) 223-4007
E-mail: rtnda AT rtnda.org
Web: http://www.rtnda.org/

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