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The Justice Department’s overly aggressive and intrusive invasion of the Associated Press, and their stomping on the First Amendment rights of a free press, is cause for all Americans to be outraged. The checks and balances built into our democracy require active oversight by the people and their representatives. The how and why of this apparently excessive use of investigative power should be made public, and if there are substantial reasons in the public interest of why AP was invaded by the feds, the American public and the professional journalism community deserves to know.
My most costly magazine subscription is “The Economist” magazine (Economist.com @ $138/yr, with some lower deals available), but I think it’s the best buy, because of articles like the current (July 9-13) issue’s 14-page special report on the future of news, called, in its inimical British way, Back to the Coffee House.
In their lead story, the magazine reviews steps individuals can take to mitigate their worries about the transformation of the news business: “As producers of new journalism, they can be scrupulous with facts and transparent with their sources. As consumers, they can be catholic in their tastes and demanding in their standards.”
This special Economist in-depth section on the future of news brings the historical and social context of news into sharp new focus, and in my humble opinion, as a lifetime student of journalism, deserves to be required reading in schools that teach journalism, public relations and communications (reprints are available). As The Economist enjoins: “The coffee house is back. Enjoy it.”
Just as I recently blogged, and despite the overwhelming worldwide climatic disasters of recent days, weeks and months, and despite a new UN report of new, fresh evidence of long-term climate change, Congress, most especially the GOP, and news media, in my view, are largely ignoring the massive evidence of consequential climate change, and not prioritizing spending and science and public education that could make a positive difference, for this and future generations.
Politico details the new evidence, both of climate change itself and of albatross-like Congressional indifference, in the attached compelling story: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/55522.html
Let your representatives in Congress and your favorite news media know how you feel on this critical subject.
In its May/June issue, the Columbia Journalism Review features an article called “The Second Age of Public Relations,” which seems to conclude that PR is gaining on journalists and journalism in both numbers of practitioners and in influence, and treats this as an insidious development.
Maybe, from their perspective anyway, to some extent it is. While I trained as a journalist and have taught journalism at the university level, I have spent my entire career in public relations. I have never willingly lied to a journalist. I will admit to occasionally working in the gray area between truth and lies, but only to the extent of representing the perspective of my “client,” because as everyone knows, there can sometimes be multiple “truths” or perspectives on an issue.
Here’s is my response to the article, which I posted on the CJR website under the article in question.
PR people, like lawyers, represent their client’s interests, whether the “client” is a business, a not-for-profit organization, an arm of government, an individual, a candidate, or even the media itself. If PR people are ethical, their stock in trade is asserting the truth, at least the truth as seen from their client’s perspective. Good PR people are first reporters — they report about their client organization to outside constituencies, often through the media, but sometimes directly. Good PR people work with editors and journalists based on mutually understood rules of truth and fairness, and yes, there are occasions when both sides violate or circumvent these rules. And yes, PR is about a lot more than media relations, and can span the entire realm of communications and relationships. Many journalists will concede, if they are candid, that they can only do their job well with the assistance of good PR people. The writer’s notion that PR is gaining on journalism is perhaps a somewhat distorted version of the truth — too much journalism is descending into infotainment, and journalism is being reinvented as a much more direct and diffused form of reporting through so-called social media.
Posted by Charles Ebeling, APR on Tue 3 May 2011 at 12:38 PM
Here’s a posting that brings bright new perspective to the recent accusation that General Caldwell called for Psy-Ops to target Congressmen visiting Afghanistan. The REAL issues may turn around what the contemporary roles of Psy-Ops and Public Affairs should be. Is it realistic to limit Public Affairs to informing, and not influencing, which has long been the dual function of public relations in the civilian world? And should Public Affairs role be limited to domestic audiences, and Psy-Ops to foreign ones? The answer to both, in the real world, appears to be “NO.”
Here’s the article: http://mountainrunner.us/2011/02/holmes_caldwell_and_rollingstone.html
I suppose it’s just coincidence that at 12:30PM today, just as Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.S. President Obama were about to step up to the podiums for their major press conference in D.C., that beginning with CNN and then extending to all news channels, my DirecTV satellite system lost it’s signals. It’s a clear, windless say here in southeastern Wisconsin. Then I went to the computer and set it to CNN — again the signal speed (the high speed computer system runs through land lines) slowed to a crawl, so I could get but an odd word here or there of the live feed news conference now in session. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but it just seemed odd that all this interference occurred right at that moment of this key live news conference. I’m sure there is no relationship with how the Chinese block media signals of content they don’t want their people to hear.
The disconnect between the rhetoric of government, especially the Federal government, and the life and prospects of ordinary Americans is a vast chasm. The poor and working poor grow poorer. The rich and super rich grow richer, flaunting their political influence, wealth and extravagant lifestyles, provoking those less clever and lucky. The un-necessary wars go on and on, and cost more and more in lives and treasure, while the government refuses to restrain the military industrial complex or engage the 99% of the untouched population by risking a draft or war taxes. The Left/right political process is broken, yet hangs on because of fear of change, fear of disrupting the obsolete political norm, and fixing things like the dangerous Electoral College process for electing Presidents, where a vote in Alaska is worth 6 times more than a vote in Chicago, or the Senate that leaves us with lopsided representation that is geographic instead of population-centered. And let’s look at the ramifications of the decay of standards in education, and loss of general civility throughout society. All of that, together with inflammatory rhetoric emanating from some of our politicians and what used to be the news media, leaves little doubt that some of those on the fringe of mental stability might resort to acts of brutal terror to gain attention or express their utter frustration with society. Thus it is not surprising that Tucson happened, but that it doesn’t happen more often. The remedies, or at least the most glaring opportunities for remedy, are implied in the shortcomings I’ve just summarized. Was Tucson but a violent expression of a latent madness which ultimately infects us all.
For the news about the TV news media, check out: http://www.mediabistro.com/tvspy/
Julien Assange did not steal the documents, he received them from those who did. Thus he is not a spy. He has chosen to publish some of them — OK, a lot of them. That makes him a journalist, like someone who reports for the NY Times, the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal, all of which have dealt with classified information given to them. Thus, to prosecute Assange is to criminalize journalism, undermining the first amendment and free speech.
What is disturbing to me is not that he has published these diplomatic documents, but what some of the documents contain — characterizations of officials of other countries that are inconsistent with what our government acknowledges, trite and mean spirited personality profiles that should never have been dignified in official documents, and admissions of guilt of what amounts to war crimes or at least violations of public standards and treaties.
The persecution and prosecution should not be focused on the whistleblower, Assange, but on the officials and our and other governments who have not acted ethically or legally, as revealed in these documents.
An enlightened comment by “Vincent” appearing on http://www.readersupportednews,org. ” I don’t understand how corporations can be deemed people and make enormous political contributions to the candidate of their choice, but people can be prohibited BY corporations from making personal campaign contributions as a contingency of employment.
Isn’t that enslavement?”