Journalists Blur Lines Between Reportage and Advertising

CNN's Aaron Brown (search) may soon be hawking drugs.

The cable news anchor has recently been hired to appear in promotional segments bankrolled by health care companies that are designed to look like news briefs, according to the New York Times.

Brown and veteran newsman Walter Cronkite (search) were both hired to star in the videos produced by a Florida television production company called WJMK Inc., the Times reported. The videos are aired on local stations between TV shows and are created to seem like news segments. Neither of the newsmen have starred in the videos yet.

Cronkite told the newspaper through his lawyer that he only agreed to be part of the project because he thought they were educational briefs, not promotional ones. CNN is reportedly reviewing whether or not the videos will pass their network's standards of ethics — and may not allow Brown to participate in them.

Morley Safer (search), a journalist on 60 Minutes, has already done hundreds of the videos but stopped appearing in them after determining they didn't pass CBS' standards.

"When Morley took this on, it was presented as something to be shown on PBS," CBS spokesman Kevin Tedesco told Fox News. "He has not done any more work for them lately."

Journalists who serve as hosts of the videos provide an introduction to the segments that profile health care products. The companies who pay for the segments are allowed editorial control over the videos, according to the Times.

Calls to WJMK were not immediately returned.