Michael Mechanic blogs on the Mother Jones site about the latest example of sponsored TV health news on KRON San Francisco.
Here's the view from Mechanic in San Francisco:
"Take Medical Mondays, KRON's call-in health-advice show. The 24-minute segment is preceded by a seven-second disclaimer noting that the following program was paid for by Seton Medical Center. If you happened to tune it in after eight seconds, you'd be none the wiser.
...This and similar programs have the look and feel of a real news-talk show, complete with a news ticker scrolling past underneath and chirons (the graphic tags that identify the person speaking) that are pretty much indistinguishable from those you'd see on regular news segments. Each paid segment is introduced by an anchor situated in what appears to be KRON's newsroom. Medical Mondays is hosted by Vicki Liviakis, one of the station's longtime anchors, who, according to KRON 4's website "has traveled the globe covering stories from terrorism in the Middle East to devastating floods in the American Midwest." ...
Cheesy lifestyle coverage is one thing, but when "the Bay Area's News Station" has a show called Morning News, it's not unreasonable that viewers might expect, uh, news. But the experts featured on the show--KRON calls them Morning News Staff--are paying for the privilege. Every Thursday, the program's "Eye on Health" segment features laser eye surgeon Gary Kawesch extolling his techniques. ... Anchor Darya Folsom ("for Folsom, even at a young age there was no other career but journalism," says the website) hosts "Weight Solutions" with Dr. Greg Jossart, a laproscopic surgeon. Where the financial relationships are disclosed--sometimes they aren't--they are mostly couched in the vague language of sponsorship and partnership.
I'm a curmudgeon. I listen to LPs. I have a 78 record player. I don't like to throw stuff away. But I also have Facebook and Skype and Twitter accounts. And when the old media turns to obvious desperation measures, I just can't help pondering the future of my profession and concluding, well, that we should be expecting even more fog in the future."
Meantime, what is the Radio-Television News Directors Association doing about this picture? Nothing that I've seen.
(Hat tip to Pia Christensen for the news tip.)