Video news releases: Policies of media outlets

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A number of media outlets have developed policies on the use of both video news releases and audio news releases.

BBC policy on use of audio and video news releases

The British Broadcasting Coproration (BBC) policy on the use of video and audio news releases states:

"Increasingly, official bodies, commercial companies and campaigning organisations provide broadcasters with video or audio news releases or other material. Sometimes the material will have been recorded by the organisation itself, sometimes by others acting on their behalf. Such material may purport to cover stories from an objective standpoint, but is usually slanted to promote the viewpoint of the supplier. We do not normally use any extracts from such releases if we are capable of gathering the material ourselves. If we do use such material for sound editorial reasons we should always ensure that it is clearly labelled on-air.
The following points should also be borne in mind:
  • we should not normally use video or audio releases of news events or news conferences from which the BBC has been deliberately excluded by the organisers. :*If, in exceptional cases, such material is used, its source and status should be made clear on-air, as should the fact that we were prevented from gathering it ourselves
  • we should not normally use any interviews or sound clips from such releases. :*When there are powerful reasons to do so the source of the material must be made clear on-air
  • we must be wary of using a News Release to illustrate a story about the organisation which provided it, particularly if it gives an unrealistic or overly favourable impression of the organisation. We should normally use such material only to illustrate the way in which the company or organisation is promoting itself
  • sequences which include incidental music or commentary provided by the supplier should be used only to show how the company or organisation tries to portray itself
  • if we use any Video News Release material to illustrate a more general story, :*we must try to select shots which do not promote the supplier or their products. We should try to use it in conjunction with other illustrative material
  • we should not accept any editorial restrictions which the supplier places on use of the material. [1]

Media General Broadcast Group policy on VNRs

In March 2005 the Media General Broadcast Group group, which "owns 26 TV stations as well as the Richmond Times-Dispatch" , stated that its policy on VNR's was:

"According to the broadcast division's guidelines for production and use of news videos, VNRs "should be used only if the material is clearly identified as having originated from an outside source . . . and should be examined closely to assure it meets Media General's standards of journalistic integrity.
"When portions of a VNR will be used in a newscast, Media General requires that you disclose that information to the viewer.
"Whenever possible, every attempt should be made to avoid using VNR material, however, when there is a sound journalistic purpose for using portions of a VNR, the material must be clearly labeled."[2]

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