Call it Prime-ing the news pump.
In the runup to today’s annual shareholder meeting, Amazon has tried to disinfect its COVID-battered image with a video produced in the form of a news report and distributed to local TV stations around the country, according to this piece at Vice.
Local News Stations Run Propaganda Segment Scripted and Produced by Amazon
At least 11 TV stations aired an identical segment written and produced by Amazon’s PR team.
Local news stations across the U.S. aired a segment produced and scripted by Amazon which touts the company’s role in delivering essential groceries and cleaning products during the COVID-19 pandemic, and its ability to do so while “keeping its employees safe and healthy.”
The segment, which was aired by at least 11 local TV stations, and which was introduced with a script written by Amazon and recited verbatim by news anchors, presents a fawning picture of Amazon, which has struggled to deliver essential items during the pandemic, support the sellers that rely on its platform, and provide its workers with the necessary protective equipment.
The anchors used this intro before tossing to the Amazon spokesman/reporter.
Millions of Americans staying at home are relying on amazon to deliver essentials like groceries and cleaning products during the COVID-19 outbreak.
For the first time we’re getting a glimpse *inside* Amazon’s fulfillment centers to see just how the company is keeping its employees safe and healthy.. While delivering packages to your doorstep.
Todd Walker takes us inside.
The left-leaning outlet Courier Newsroom produced this compilation.
The Courier also reported that, “only one station, Toledo ABC affiliate WTVG, acknowledged that Walker was an Amazon employee, not a news reporter. WTVG and WGXA in Macon, Georgia, noted that Amazon had supplied the video.”
These other stations just ran the package as their own news product.
- WTVJ-NBC, Miami, FL
- WKRN-ABC, Nashville, TN
- WLEX-NBC, Lexington, KY (ran twice)
- WVVA-NBC, Bluefield, WV
- WTVM-ABC, Columbus, GA (ran twice)
- KMIR-NBC, Palm Springs, CA (ran three times)
- WBTW-CBS, Myrtle Beach, SC
- WOAY-ABC, Bluefield, WV (ran twice)
This propagambit is nothing new: As Amazon pointed out in response to criticism, the material it posted to the website Business Wire is essentially no different from what thousands of other companies regularly post there. But most of the time, corporate-generated content gets stripped for parts – graphs, b-roll, etc. Less often does the prepackaged news run intact with no attribution.
There have been major exceptions, of course – most notably the Bush administration’s tsunami of newslike TV segments produced by a raft of federal agencies. As the New York Times reported in 2005, “at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government’s role in their production.”
It took a massive, Pulitzer Prize-winning effort by the Times to uncover all that. It’s not as difficult now, as the local stations that pimped out their newscasts to Amazon discovered yesterday.