June 19, 2024


Sapiens Digital

11 Local News Stations Ran the Same Amazon-Produced Segment

2 min read

(Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Nearly a dozen local TV news stations ran the same Amazon-produced segment touting warehouse working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The piece, according to a company press release, included pre-recorded footage of fulfillment centers, interviews with workers, and a prewritten script for on-air anchors.

A video compiled by Courier Newsroom (below) highlights the verbatim text passed off by numerous U.S. stations as their own reporting. One—Toledo ABC affiliate WTVG—acknowledged that the package was penned by an Amazon employee; WTVG* and WGXA in Macon, Ga., also noted that Amazon supplied the content.

Elsewhere, producers ran the story with no credit in Miami, Fla. (WTVJ-NBC); Nashville, Tenn. (WKRN-ABC); Lexington, Ky. (WLEX-NBC); Bluefield, W.V. (WVVA-NBC and WOAY-ABC); Columbus, Ga. (WTVM-ABC); Palm Springs, Calif. (KMIR-NBC); and Myrtle Beach, S.C. (WBTW-CBS).

Wes Armstead, news director of Bluefield NBC affiliate WVVA, pleaded ignorance, telling Courier that “I was not aware the package was provided by Amazon,” and promising that “We’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Oklahoma City’s KOCO-TV reporter Zach Rael wasn’t fooled, though. On Sunday, he tweeted a screenshot of the script, emailed to him by Amazon PR. “They are selling this as giving our viewers an ‘inside look’ at the company’s response to COVID-19,” he said. “No. Let us go inside a fulfillment center with our own cameras.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to PCMag’s request for comment. It did, however, tell Courier that the press package was released as part of the wire—a tactic not unique to Amazon. “This type of video was created to share an inside look into the health and safety measures we’ve rolled out in our buildings,” according to a company statement, “and was intended for reporters who, for a variety of reasons, weren’t able to come tour one of our sites themselves.”

* A possible typo by Courier Newsroom; WTVG does not exist in Macon, Ga.

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