Welcome to the PIT List!

I'm a network field producer who also worked in local tv as a line producer and field producer. Over the years, I have had the great fortune to work with super people. Now I'd like to pass along what I know and rant a tad.

"Dear Maggie..." pitlist@gmail.com
I check it sporadically, but I love answering emails, so if you have an issue or difficult person you need help with, don't hesitate to shoot it my way.

Maggie L

Maggie L
One of the rare times I'm in the office

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Colbert Mocks Photog Layoffs

This has been out there, but I wanted to share in case you hadn't seen it.

Is Your Expert Being Paid to Hawk a Product?

I ran across a disturbing article in the Washington Post (came across it via ProPublica). Basically, the article says some of the experts you have coming on your shows... could have financial interests that compel them to push certain products. The Post highlights the case of one consumer "expert" who was pushing a security product for kids-- when she was being paid by the makers of the security product she pushed. The article is frightening, definitely worth a read-- looks like the practice is fairly widespread.

We know how it happens. You have a 2:00 hole to fill and company XYZ, whose rep is super savvy, offers up a timely, fun --good TV-- segment that's a no brainer to put in your show. But are you asking the right questions when you're setting up the segment? Namely, are you asking the guest: "Do you have a financial connection to any of the products or companies you're promoting in this segment?" Your viewers deserve better than watching essentially a 2:00 commercial. They deserve your extra effort to make sure the product or products being recommended are being done so gratis. Ditto so many of the satelitte interview oppotunities that come across your desk (also mentioned in the Post piece).

The line in TV is being blurred. Many stations have paid programming shows that look an awful lot like morning shows except the guests have paid to take part. At the end of the show, there's usually some disclosure. Disclosed or not, paid segments or products have no place in newscasts. I'm guessing the majority of these just slide by because producers are more and more harried, being asked to do more with less. But there are PLENTY of people who want to be on TV to give their opinions without being paid by some company to do so.