The Art of the Spin.

This week, in a lecture I was doing for a public relations course, ‘truthfulness’ was raised by a student as something one wants when producing P.R. material. When I answered that the ‘truth’ in public relations is much like the ‘truth’ is to defense attorneys, unnessesary, I could see the students disbelief. This was a perfect opening to discuss the ‘spin.’ What is the ‘spin’? William Safire in a New York Times article, The Spinner Spun gives us an understanding of this tool of politicians and PR. firms alike.

Newsweek this week has a great example of the art of spin. Disclose No Evil by Daniel McGinn takes various corporations who experienced a less than stellar year, and shows how a spin can over come obstacles. It is an amusing,  but also eye opening view into corporate ‘happy speak’!

Keith Olbermann’s ‘Network’ moment

Keith Olbermann
Peter Finch's Mad as Hell moment!

This evening Keith Olbermann and MSNBC parted ways leaving viewers and the Media clucking their tongues and wondering what exactly happened here.  Since his suspension in November on ethical issues, there has been no love lost between network management and Olbermann. Still, the departure tonight was certainly speedy and without an explanation.  I have included a link to the goodbye, it is an interesting summation of a controversial cable host’s eight year tenure–sadly he did not channel Howard Beale at the end.

When did fact checking become irrelevant?

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords being sworn in earlier this week

Greetings from a cybercafe in sunny Puerto Vallarta.  I have been following the attempted assasination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords with facination and alarm. From the first bulletins that were sent out, false unvarified information was all over the web and media– the villians were not bloggers or social networkers, they were the major media outlets.

NPR was one of the first to break the story of the shootings. Sadly they annouced  that the congresswoman was dead. Check this link for NPR`s News Editor Dick Meyer explaination.  Not only were some of the news agencies announcing the congresswomen`s death but also the death of a pastor at the Mountain Avenue  Church of Christ. Now, that individual has been identified as Dorwin Stoddard, a part time maintenace man for the church not the pastor. I can not imagine what the people of Tuscon experienced as the news organizations tried to scoop their colleagues.

My question is have journalists forgotten the basic rules of reporting?  And what ever happened to notifing the next of kin before publicly annoucing someone`s death? When did restrain in reporting undocumented facts leave the profession of Journalism?

An Agatha Christie mystery for the Internet Age.

The website Wikileaks has certainly earned the wrath of some major international governments and corporations: the US,  Chinese, Saudis,and even Bank of America to name a few. So it is not surprising that on December 1, 2010 we  find the  site ‘unavailable’.  According to, a DDoS attack has crippled the site, but a possible rescuer maybe  Amazon. Wikileaks is now hosted by Amazon after massive DDoS attacks questions who has the ability to inflict such a massive attack, and how long Amazon wants to be in the thick of controversies.

The issue of censorship needs to be addressed if  in fact a government blocked the site, and takes the issue to a whole different level. Can a government censor not only sites in their own country, but also globally? Since Wikileaks was hosted in Sweden, will the World tolerate other nations shutting down the site? These questions should be debated once the mystery is solved– Who shut down Wikileaks?

We have no secrets… We tell each other everything…

The  Carly Simon song on secrets played in my head while reading the article in Newsweek titled Privacy is Dead. Yes, we all have heard that an amazing amount of data is available online about individuals, however the extent and how it is being misused is staggering. Writer Jessica Bennett hired the firm Reputation Defender to ‘mine’ information on her. Within 30 minutes they had her Social Security number, within 2 hours they knew her home address, her body type and health status.

What is even more frightening is how the data is interpreted, and what it will mean in the near future. The use of data to create a credit score is really the most disturbing part of the article.

Oh what a circus, oh what a show….

Lost in all the feel good coverage of the amazing rescue of the miners in Chile, is the behavior of the Media at the site.  From the excessive coverage to the hair pulling, tent trampling conclusion (I was reminded of the conclusion of Nathanael West’s ‘The Day of the Locust’) to the now cruel post-rescue coverage, the media has not been on its best behavior.

Rory Carroll of the Guardian discusses the media’s behavior in Chile, including the recent tabloid coverage that the 33 now face, in his article   “How the media in Chile helped focus the eyes of the world on the miners.”

John Stewart’s Daily Show clip on the Media Coverage is priceless!

Blogs and the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Controversy

The controversy over building a mosque in Lower Manhattan certainly has become Media feeding frenzy. How did this issue develop?  Steve Rendall and Alex Kane chart the development of this cyberstorm on FAIR‘s website. The Media’s Construction of the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ is an interesting time line on how news explodes via the Internet.

The Rick Sanchez/CNN Mess–What were they thinking?

NBC’s Today has an excellent report covering the Rich Sanchez firing at CNN, including a link to the entire interview. CNN’s coverage is itself short and too the point–“Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company,” according to a statement from CNN. “We thank Rick for his years of service and we wish him well.”

Listening to the interview, one understands that Mr. Sanchez CAN NOT GO OFF SCRIPT. His views are with out a doubt shocking yet sadly not uncommon on today’s airways. What is amazing is the speed in which CNN reacted. Only time will tell if CNN’s decision will haunt them. My question is this: Did CNN stifle free speech or were they trying to contain a loose cannon?

Rick Sanc
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