"I'm kind of relying, my client is relying, on just the inner workings of that station," said [Brent Williams, account supervisor at Karsh/Hagan, the advertising agency that arranged the deal]. "Not that editorial would ever give a heads-up to sales or be expected to give a heads-up to sales, but these are professionals. They do realize that some businesses' brands, some businesses' reputations, could be at stake in terms of how commerce and news are interacting here."

Setting aside how the deal complicates reporting on certain topics, one also can't help but note how it highlights those parts of the news operation already considered journalistically weakest. For the Las Vegas station, the second part of the morning newscast can be sold for product placement, but not the first, since... the first contains the real, actual, trustworthy journalism? At other stations mentioned in the Times story, the entire morning newscast is marked off this way.

The stations are moving forward with the product placements despite the fact that the national news divisions ABC, NBC and CBS have ruled out such practices as misleading. It's almost enough to make one wonder if the local affiliates care more about ratings than presenting a balanced, helpful newscast.

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Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll take a break from all this journalistic hand-wringing and enjoy a crisp, cool Miller High Life. It is truly the champagne of beers!

[Times]