"Check and see who paid for that story," you'll sometimes hear around any credible newsroom. Companies love to work up studies and surveys that might appear to be a news feature. Here's the item (comments in italics are mine):
New York (important city) Reuters: Phoenix on Wednesday (timely) was named the sweatiest city in the United States (superlatives are great copy, especially for local TV news), but (most news copy thrives on conjunctions) Miami topped the list as the most uncomfortable American city due to its mix of humidity and heat.
The fifth annual (now a tradition) sweat survey sponsored by Procter & Gamble (an early reveal of source, as if to say "how could it matter?") handed the dubious distinction (lovely newscast term) to the Arizona capital for the third time.
The latest survey found that the average Phoenix resident produced 26 ounces, or 0.77 liter (sciency-looking) of sweat during a typical summer day last year when the desert city's high temperature averaged 93.3 F, 34 C.
(Now comes the really fun part for the news anchors) It means that in under three hours, Phoenix residents collectively produced enough sweat to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, (now who figured this out? ) said Jay Gooch, sweat expert at Old Spice, a Procter & Gamble Co. antiperspirant brand. (Is our sweat expert a scientist? Well, I'm sorry I had the usual doubts because we called the company and, indeed, he's a toxicologist with a Ph.D.)
("But you don't notice the sweat so much in Phoenix because the humidity's so low," the other anchor would say, shuffing papers on the desk.)
Now, clearly this is a win for P&G without a lot of work, as they just estimated sweat production and jiggered up some math. And now I've mentioned the company several times on a reputable (I hope) worldwide blog. But what is worse: hearing this story with the funder's name or without?