At least 10 local TV stations ran a "news" report written and produced by Amazon, reports The Courier-News. The video was provided by Amazon, and only one station disclosed that the "reporter" was an Amazon spokesman. The report, as you have perhaps guessed, praises Amazon effusively.
While most TV news professionals have scoffed at the idea of running Amazon-provided content as news, at least 10 stations across the country ran some form of the package on their news broadcasts. The package—you can view the script Amazon provided to news stations here—was produced by Amazon spokesperson Todd Walker. Only one station, Toledo ABC affiliate WTVG, acknowledged that Walker was an Amazon employee, not a news reporter.
Bad as it is, TV (and especially radio) news has always been like this. They're studios, not newsrooms. They get content from newswires, parent companies, any old source that has it nicely packaged. When I was a smalltown reporter, you'd hear the newspaper rustling as they read it on air.
It's true that it's getting worse, perhaps because of consolidation: Watch countless American news anchors mindlessly intone the same propaganda script
UPDATE: Amazon's Alyssa Bronikowski emailed a statement, reproduced below:
Statement – "We welcome reporters into our buildings and it's misleading to suggest otherwise. This type of video was created to share an inside look into the health and safety measures we've rolled out in our buildings and was intended for reporters who for a variety of reasons weren't able to come tour one of our sites themselves."
On background (no direct quotes, generic paraphrasing ok, Amazon spokesperson attribution fine):
• We welcome reporters to tour our buildings and see the health and safety measures we've rolled out for themselves.
• This type of video news release is not new, many companies create them and distribute them over the wire, and we were transparent that this was coming from Amazon.
• Some newsrooms are not sending people on location during this time but still want to see and understand what's happening at Amazon so in some cases journalists choose to pick up this type of content.
• This was not a promotional video and no one who participated in this video was paid.