OLD Media Moves

Fox Business Network uses "shopper" from National Retail Federation

November 27, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

Michael Learmonth of Silicon Alley Insider writes Tuesday that a Fox Business Network segment on “Cyber Monday” shopping used an employee of the National Retail Federation — the industry organization designed to promote such events as “Cyber Monday” — as an example of an online shopper.

Such sourcing from industry organizations is typically frowned upon in business journalism.

Cyber Monday shopper/NRF employeeLearmonth wrote, “As you may have guessed, it wasn’t an accident. But the folks at the trade group say it also wasn’t intentional: The reason that their man Peter Perweiler was at the ESPN Zone in Washington D.C., was because the NRF was hosting a media event — one designed specifically to provide reporters with “real” Web shoppers to interview.”

NRF spokesman Scott Krugman responded: “During the event, it was clear to all who attended that NRF staff members were onsite and that some were shopping. At the event, held at the ESPN Zone, 198 people shopped and 15 of those shoppers were NRF employees. More than 20 people were interviewed by various media outlets and four NRF staff members were interviewed.

“News media had free rein at the event to interview any attendee, including official NRF and Mall Networks spokespeople and consumers who were shopping. All consumers who were interviewed were approached directly by the media. It was neither hidden nor disguised to reporters that some shoppers at the event were employed by the National Retail Federation. In one instance, an NRF staff member specifically identified himself and the reporter chose to interview him regardless.”

Read more here.

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