Advertisement

Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Don’t Trust the Toy Lady

posted by Nell Minow

The LA Times reports that back to school reports on a number of national and local newscasts have included commentary from “a young mother and ‘toy expert’ named Elizabeth Werner,” described as “perky and positive-plus” in her demonstration of seven recommended toys for children. She talks about all the things the toys do in her segments on the air, but does not mention one fact parents might like to know — she is paid $11,000 for each toy she presents by the same company that is hoping you will buy them.
James Rainey points out that it is a violation of FCC rules for a news program to present a sponsored segment without disclosing that it is, in effect, an ad. It is also a violation of journalistic ethics which even chirpy morning shows are supposed to uphold.
Rainey, who by example demonstrates exactly what those standards are for, notes that

Advertisement

Werner is a lawyer who worked for a couple of toy companies before she went into the promotion business. She told me that the company that hires her to do the tours — New Jersey-based DWJ Television — scrupulously notifies TV stations that toy makers pay for the pitches. DWJ founder Dan Johnson, an ABC News veteran of decades gone by, said the same.

So I picked three stations and morning programs that Werner visited over the summer — Fox 2 in Detroit, Fox 5’s “Good Day Atlanta” and the independent KTVK’s “Good Morning Arizona” in Phoenix to see how they plugged the Werner segments. A spokesperson for the two Fox stations and the news director at the Phoenix outlet told me they had been told absolutely nothing about Werner being paid to tout products, which ranged from a Play-Doh press to a new Toy Story video game to the Paper Jamz electronic guitar.

Advertisement

He notes that the burden is not on the promoter who is being paid but on the news programs, who should always be suspicious of anyone who claims to be an expert, especially one who is touring the country without any visible means of support.
The burden, unfortunately, is on parents, who must also learn to be skeptical about “experts” who are just live-action versions of Marge the manicurist or Mr. Whipple the store manager.

  • Wendy

    Thanks for your help to us parents in keeping track of and thinking about these things.

  • susan ab

    question “authority” folks and make sure to tell your kids to, also

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, Wendy and you are right, Susan!

  • jestrfyl

    I would do this job for NOTHING! Playing with toys and writing reports on them sounds like a perfect job, indeed! So why spoil it by becoming the corporate flunky. Of course, she will likely get someone to read her reports and they will interview her, lending credibility to a shaky shallow authority. Too bad, really.

Previous Posts

Trailer: Disney's Descendants With the Next Generation of Villains
Coming to the Disney Channel this summer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4UUQqefajc& ...

posted 3:47:40pm Apr. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Men in Suits: Costume Designers Talk about "Scandal," "Mad Men," and More Suit-Wearing Characters on TV
The women's clothes get all the attention, but for a costume designer -- and for the actor -- a suit is just as important. Indiewire ...

posted 3:27:23pm Apr. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Matt Mamula of Celebrity Impersonator Documentary "Just About Famous"
Matt Mamula co-directed "Just About Famous," the very entertaining new documentary about celebrity impersonators. He generously took time to talk to me about the unexpected opportunities that open up when someone looks like someone who becomes ...

posted 3:59:51pm Apr. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Barak Goodman of "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies"
Director Barak Goodman talked to me about his superb series for PBS, Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, now available on DVD. The series is produced ...

posted 3:55:04pm Apr. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Creativity Conference 2015: Nancy Pelosi, Snoopy, and Drones with GoPros
I had so much fun at last year's Creativity Conference that I could not imagine how they could top it this year, but they succeeded. This is ...

posted 3:07:48pm Apr. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.