Another Reason to Embrace Non-Profit News
The reality that the news industry is struggling is hardly news, but some of the remedies being tried these days are getting a bit out of hand. For example, a Fox TV affiliate in Las Vegas has entered a contract with McDonald’s to have the station’s news anchors keep glasses of McDonald’s ice coffee on their desk during programming — golden arches facing the camera. The Las Vegas Sun reported the story Monday, noting:
But wait, here’s the best part: They’re not real. Fake coffee on the real news, two plastic cups permanently filled with some kind of bogus drink. The anchors aren’t even supposed to acknowledge them, McDonald’s reps explain. That’s part of their genius, my little lambs! They get into your mind without you knowing it. So they just sit there, two logo-emblazoned plastic cups, percolating into the psyche. Made-to-scale models that weigh something like seven pounds each - refreshing, and bottom-line boosting!
Some will probably argue that such a move is simply sign of a creative company searching ways to survive in the flailing news business. But how’s your smiling news anchor going to criticize McDonald’s when the company’s product rests in full sight just a few inches away?
Kelly McBride, the ethics group leader for Poynter Institute, the nonprofit journalism training organization, isn’t convinced. Product placement in a newsroom, she worries, represents the "slippage" of news into advertisement, a descent into a dark world where conglomerate companies control coverage.
What’s next, Pete Rozelle headbands?