Over the past couple of months the news has been full of reports of phony journalism, people being paid by Bush to write puff columns for the Bush administration programs. Now the world of virtual journalism has gone over the top.
Journalists writing fictitious stories as if they were reports on real events, and journalists writing articles on subjects they were paid to cover by the people involved—that’s one thing. But journalists pretending to be journalists making fictitious reports on fictitious events might be stretching matters, even for the most liberal-minded in the journalistic community.
Last month The Hill reported that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is looking for “reporters to participate in TOPOFF 3, a biennial exercise directed by Congress that simulates a terrorist attack on the United States.” Ogilvy PR was enlisted by DHS to recruit six real journalists not currently employed by a news outlet “to help department officials better understand how the media would respond to a weapon-of-mass-destruction attack.” They will be reporting for something called the Virtual News Network, according to PR Watch, the group that keeps an eye on the public relations business.