Do you know where your news comes from? You might not realize that much of the news you consume has been placed by public relations strategists. Many of the news organizations that citizens know and trust have been duped as well.
Public News Service (PNS) is a private Colorado company that bills itself as “a member supported news service that advocates journalism in the public interest.” In reality, the Public News Service is a public relations machine that, for a fee, repackages political content produced by left-wing organizations to be distributed as legitimate news stories.
A contribution to PNS buys liberal organizations–like the Center for Voter Education, Democracy NC, and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice–favorable radio and print press releases that are doctored to look like news stories and then distributed to media organizations across the state and the country.
At first glance, PNS does not appear to be overtly political; but a closer examination of how member organizations in North Carolina use the service highlights serious ethical concerns. The Civitas Institute has acquired internal information distributed to members of Blueprint NC that reveals the political purpose of PNS. Blueprint NC is a coalition of liberal organizations, many of which are PNS “supporters.”
An article titled “Working the Airwaves with Public News Service” (which was intended for Blueprint NC members only) was published shortly after the 2010 elections. The article describes the success of PNS placement services in great detail. It explains how the North Carolina News Service (NCNS), the local branch of PNS, helped to attract attention in the days leading up to the election and links to more than 150 stories and “experts” in the local and national media.
Blueprint praises NCNS for taking “a lot of the dirty work out of dealing with the news media” and for being easy to work with.
PNS might take the dirty work out of dealing with the media for liberal political groups, but it muddies the water for those who consume and produce real news. Press releases disguised as print and radio stories can fool even the most cautious of media consumers.
Blueprint NC’s strategic use of PNS isn’t illegal, but it is unethical. PNS “stories” are not news; rather they are part of a complex leftist public relations strategy. This is a strategy that we are likely to see more of as liberal groups line up to try to influence the next election.
North Carolina citizens need to be aware that the “news” they hear on the radio, see on TV, and read in the paper isn’t always real news. Paid public relations pros like the folks at PNC touch more stories than you think. Audiences should take PNS reports and liberal “experts” with a grain of salt because one never knows how much an organization is paying for coverage.
- “What we do” section http://www.publicnewsservice.org/about.php