Ran in the Tennessean.
To the Editor:
You don't have to go to the theater anymore to see well-produced fiction. Just tune into your evening newscast or listen to your various political pundits.
The New York Times reported that as many as 20 different federal agencies have released ''pre-packaged news reports'' during the last four years, ranging on topics from flu vaccines, education, Social Security and agriculture. There is a very good chance that all of us have seen one of these 90-second spots at one point or another. (''Real 'reporter' on TV likely to be Uncle Sam,'' March 13)
Your tax dollars are casually diverted to high-dollar public relations firms, which produce the reports based on the ''talking points'' of the initiative. The firms then send it to news wire services under the guise of in-depth ''reporting.''
Even to a trained journalist or station manager, it is hard to tell which reports come from legitimate news affiliates or government agencies. The look and feel is authentic. The message isn't. While Tennesseans wonder if they can trust the media, the media are wondering if they can trust the government.
Some may say that ''it's been going on for years'' is a valid excuse to allow it to continue. I could not disagree more. Our elected officials must act immediately to bar any taxpayer money going for what amounts to political propaganda.
Let the real journalists tell the full story, not just what the White House wants you to hear.