I'm a Democrat, and I'm furious over the Bush ads; yes, about the blatant use of 9/11 imagery, but this story is about neither the party I support nor the recent fiasco. Right smack in the middle of a news program was a 30 second advertisement, being run as "news" with a few seconds introduction and then a few seconds commentary afterwards. I'm fairly certain I don't remember this happening in the '96 elections, as I was a brand new, card-carrying voter and paid close attention. Since when did a campaign commercial (regardless of which party the commercial is for) become news? I'd chalk it up as a fluke, except another local station(which has a political alignment only slightly less obvious than FOX news) did exactly the same thing a few days later, but compressed the ad and had a few words of commentary over it. As many people have commented during the editorial phase of this story, news stories about political ads(usually the strategy they take, and a brief "analysis" of that strategy) are nothing new, but it is a new trend to see ads played with barely an introduction.
Spot the difference here: "The Bush/Cheney Campaign has raised over $190 million dollars and has started to put that money to work in new advertisements, the first featuring first lady Laura Bush. [cut to the commercial, play it start to finish].
Versus: "The Bush/Cheney Campaign has raised over $190 million dollars and has started to put that money to work in new advertisements."[cut to clip with L. Bush speaking] Voiceover: "The latest ad features first lady Laura Bush, vouching for the character of her husband"...[voiceover ends] "He's a swell dude!" [cut back to desk anchor] "The ad is being run in southern states where blah blah blah blah." [next story].
One is playing the ad. The other is reporting on the ad as a news story. There's a drastic difference.
We've been through the Democratic primary, and far as I can remember, not once did the station in question play a political advertisement for a single democratic candidate during the news program. It played them all right, but during normal advertising blocks; not smack in the middle between "something blew up in Iraq" "someone shot in Boston", "Gays get married!" and "Martha's in trouble!"
Why is the timing so important? Well, for starters, one is paid for and the other was most likely not, although I can't decide which would be more infuriating, to be honest. Second, by running it full screen and with no voiceover commentary during the news program the station is nearly endorsing the commercial and implying it is newsworthy, factual content. Lastly, it nicely sidesteps commercial-skipping functions in VCRs and PVRs.
For the record, neither story had any commentary mentioning the whole 9/11-imagery fiasco(which became a news item in itself), and one was the Laura Bush commercial; the imagery fiasco was not why they were playing the ads. WCVB and ABC have both since covered said fiasco, either without running the ad at all, or featuring stills or very brief clips. It would seem perfectly possibly to report on a political commercial, without playing it in entirety.
Has your local station done this, for what candidates, and what network is it part of?(WCVB is part of Hearst-Argyle, for example). Keeping in mind the distinctions between running the ad as advertising, playing it during the news, and running a news story about an advertisement, is this a new phenomenon? Is it within the standards of journalistic integrity? Discuss!