WJBK-2, FOX (TV Station)

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Fake TV News: A CMD Special Report
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This article is part of the Center for Media and Democracy's special report, Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed.
Click here to read the report summary.

WJBK-2 is a Detroit, Michigan television station and an affiliate of the FOX television network.

Station Owner

Fox/News Corporation

Use of Video News Releases and/or Satellite Media Tours

In the 10pm news bulletin on January 26, 2006 the station broadcast an edited and re-voiced video news release (VNR) produced by Medialink Worldwide for NetTrekker on a new 'child safe' search engine. [1]

In the 5am news bulletin on February 3, 2006 the station broadcast an edited and re-voiced video news release (VNR) produced by Medialink Worldwide for Cadillac on the making of Cadillac's Super Bowl ad. The broadcast used part of the VNR in a station segment. [2]

In October 2000, WJBK-2 aired a VNR from Dephi Automotive Systems that "detailed developments in automotive electronics," according to the website of the Michigan-based PR firm John Bailey & Associates. [3]

In 1991, WJBK-2 aired portions of a VNR that promoted Upjohn's anti-anxiety drug, Xanax. As Steven Taylor and Morton Mintz reported in The Nation, a WJBK anchor claimed, "Doctors say there seem to be few side effects to the drug." "Actually," wrote Taylor and Mintz, "in some cases Xanax does have serious adverse effects, such as blurred vision, sexual dysfunction, confusion, dizziness, impaired attention and addiction." Taylor and Mintz reported that WJBK did not disclose the Upjohn-funded and -produced VNR to viewers (Steven Taylor and Morton Mintz, "'News' about Xanax; Marketing of Prescription Drug," The Nation, October 21, 1991).

Response to Report

In response to the Center for Media and Democracy's inquiries about WJBK-2's disclosure policies, Al Johnson emailed on April 5, 2006, "Yes we use SMT's and to a lesser degree VNR's. No, we never disclose sources."

The Executive Producer of WJBK-2's program "Problem Solvers," Kevin Roseborough, wrote several emails in response to a viewer complaint. On April 6, 2006, he wrote:

They cite our use of 36 seconds of a Cadillac VNR, in a story about Super Bowl commercials. It seems to me that use of video from a commercial in a story about commercials is logical and legitimate, but I'll look further to see if I've missed anything. In this case, perhaps the watchdog group is misleading people. ... I'm in complete agreement that commercial content should not be passed off as news content, and I hope we didn't do that.

On April 14, 2006, Roseborough wrote:

I guess we'll have to disagree on the Cadillac example, in a story on commercials, it seems pretty logical that we would use video from a commercial. That's what the story is about.
The internet example is still under investigation but appears to have been a violation of our policy. Our news managers met to discuss this issue and a note has gone around re-iterating our policy. We do 40 hours a week of news and are serious about policing our content.
I'm unhappy that this one slipped through.

The week following the August 11, 2006, launch of the official FCC investigation into unsourced VNRs, the Detroit Free Press reported: [4]

Erica Keane, vice president of media relations for WJBK's parent Fox Television stations group, said Wednesday that no FCC letter has been received yet. But Keane said: "We commented on this a few months ago when the issue was first raised. The Fox stations policy is clear -- all outside news reports must be identified." She declined to answer specific questions about the WJBK airings.

Contact Details

Box 2000
16550W 9 Mile Road
Southfield, MI 48037-2000
Phone (Switch): 248-557-2000
Phone/Fax (News): 248-557-1199

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