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Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is spending $250 million of his own money to buy the official house organ of the Democrat party.

Yes , “house organ”, a pejorative, old-fashioned term that fits the Washington Post perfectly.

One can’t help but wonder if this is a shrewd move to gain Washington access. What better way to get a seat at the table of the powerful in Washington, D.C. than to own the Washington Post, which has not made a profit in years. The darling of the glitterati, the Post has devolved into little more than a house organ for all things Democrat.

But power is power, and Bezos, reported to be a Libertarian, will have a pretty nice entry into the halls of power in Washington.

The Post is just one of a long list of failed newspapers. Perhaps Bezos’ purchase will transform the business model in new and sustainable ways. Let’s hope so. A viable press is necessary to sustaining democracy.

Maybe Bezos can mitigate the Post’s shameless partisanship that is skewed so totally toward the Democrat party. A good first move would be to fire  that hack “cartoonist” Tom Toles, whose 1940s images and obvious hatred for Republicans shows up in almost every cartoon he draws.

Journalism is supposed to be unbiased in reporting the news. The Washington Post gave up on that a long time ago. The result? It has become a moral and financial failure. I wish Jeff Bezos, a true entrepreneurial genius, great success in restoring it to some sort of ethical journalistic standard.

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The almost instantaneous shift in coverage away from Iran to Michael Jackson’s death raises two concerns for me: one is about the merits of the two stories, and the other is about the ease of covering the two stories.

Concerning the merits of what gets covered, did you notice how quickly the media stopped covering Farrah Fawcett’s death from cancer when Michael Jackson died suddenly and mysteriously? I guess you can attribute that to relative star power. Michael Jackson is viewed as the bigger celebrity. Subsequently, Farrah got bumped.

It was not only entertainment reporters who covered Michael Jackson’s death, but serious news reporters and anchors did so as well. Coverage was 24/7 for days in most every news outlet, including business cable channels. And it continues today, but to a lesser degree. Farrah Fawcett barely received a mention after Jackson’s death.

Compared to events in Iran, does the death of a troubled pop star merit the wall-to-wall coverge it is receiving?

Second, I wonder if the difficulty in covering events in Iran has anything to do with it. For example, the Iranian government exiles or arrests journalists and TV reporters when they try to cover the post-election demonstrations. Admittedly, it is almost impossible to cover an event when the country’s government works so hard to prevent it.

But social media stepped in to fill the void. Citizen journalists continue to provide a steady flow of information and images to the outside world, often at great personal risk.  I tweeted earlier that I had watched in amazement as a major TV news organization “covered” the unfolding events in Iran by showing TweetDeck, Facebook pages, YouTube, and blog postings on air. Like others, the news organization has no reporters on the ground in Iran. It merely reports what the citizen journalists provide.

While it remains extremely difficult to cover events in Iran, it is relatively easy to cover Michael Jackson’s death. Is the media merely picking the low-hanging fruit? Or, does the media view the death of the pop star as more compelling than the grassroots battle for freedom and justice in Iran?

I report; you decide.

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Any day now, I expect to see this promo:

Tonight on XBC, we explore “The First Five Months: President Obama’s Sock Drawer.”

With unprecedented access, XBC goes behind the scenes to explore President Obama’s sock collection. Never before has a president chosen so brilliantly the socks he wears to lead the free world.

XBC’s top reporters studied President Obama’s sock drawer for insight into the man. Join us for a comprehensive look at the man inside the socks.

What guides his cool demeanor as pressure mounts to choose between black or blue for formal occasions? How can he consistently choose the perfect style for date night?

XBC gives you the complete picture, not just socks for statecraft, but colorful socks for all occasions.

Don’t miss “The First Five Months: President Obama’s Sock Drawer.” Tonight at 8 p.m. on XBC.

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A simple sightseeing trip June 10 in Washington, D.C., turned into a media storm for friend Susie Towater.

Susie came to Washington to attend a Volunteers for America event, then to stay with us at our home in Vienna, Virginia. Susie and my wife Marilyn, Chi Omega sisters from undergraduate school, planned a simple visit, mostly working in our flowerbeds, a shared passion.  Susie was excited that Marilyn bought her a new pair of garden gloves for her use here.

But on Wednesday, June 10, 2009, Susie and husband Charlie, wanted to see the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Susie was five minutes late meeting Charlie at the Museum. That five-minute delay meant that they were across the street when gunman James W. von Brunn, 88, of Annapolis, Maryland, began firing a .22 caliber rifle at the chest of security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns, 39, before other guards shot him.

“We heard the gunshots as we walked toward the museum,” Susie said. “It was a pop, pop, pop, and Charlie said it was gun fire, but I thought it was cars backfiring.”

As Susie and Charlie approached the Museum, they saw a security guard run out of the building, then they saw the body of the gunman lying on the sidewalk. “The police did not seem to be concerned about him,” Susie said, “for they knew he was not going anywhere.”

Moments later, a media storm changed Susie’s quiet visit with old friends into her 15 minutes of fame. She was interviewed by the police, and then the media descended on her. She was a guest on Fox New Channel’s America’s Newsroom program, CBS, and MSNBC’s Hardball.

She was interviewed via her cell phone by Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto while being driven home in a CBS limo after her appearance on that channel.

Print media interviews included cover photos of Susie in the Washington Post, Washington Times, and USA Today, plus interviews with Associated Press and in newspapers from Canada, El Salvador, Venezuela, and Tampa, her home town.

It was interesting for me to see how the media treats eye witnesses whose stories they wish to get. Susie was staying at our house, and the media kept after her. MSNBC sent a limo to pick her up for an appearance on Chris Matthew’s Hardball show Thursday at 5 p.m. Susie had met Matthews at the Volunteers for America function June 5. Susie, a true Southern lady who tends to be conservative, has a wonderful sense of humor. When introduced to Matthews, Susie said, “I am so pleased to meet you, for you are my favorite conservative!” Ultra-liberal Matthews proved to be a good sport, seeing the humor in it.

When being prepped for her appearance on Hardball, Susie asked the intern helping her for any tips. “Don’t worry about it, because Chris will interrupt you and talk over you anyway,” the intern said.

At CBS’ studio, a nervous Susie was counseled by another intern who said, “Don’t worry. All this will be over tomorrow.” Such is the fleeting nature of being a media darling. Sure enough, as I write this, Marilyn and Susie are browsing local flower nurseries unimpeded. Like an afternoon thunderstorm down South, Susie’s media storm has blown over.

But it was fun for a while, Susie said. “The most fun was my husband Charlie telling Matt Lauer that we would not come to New York to be on the Today show with him. I wanted to work in the yard with Marilyn.”

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My Organizational Communication Master’s class discussed media relations last night. It was enlightening.  Most all of the students are working practitioners attending night classes to earn their Master’s degree. Their media relations experience runs from none at all to their major job responsibility.

I ask this question of and for them: In the world of Web 2.0, what constitutes an effective media relations program? What are its components? What are the characteristics of a well-managed media relations program these days?

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I’ve been away from MWL for a while now. I celebrated Christmas, began the instructional design of my spring 2009 classes, and actually got some much-needed rest. But as we approach the New Year, I feel like I should say something, anything, to mark the passage. Here goes…

Goodbye, good riddance.

We all know what 2008 was like. First, there was the dominating presidential election. The wars. The housing bubble bursting. The failing economy. The bailouts.

As interested as I am in politics, I even got sick of the presidential election. The election did bring closure to one thing, and that is the long, slow suicide of journalism.

Journalism is dead. It killed itself by cutting out its credibility. RIP New York Times, Washington Post, et al. Now what do I tell my highly ethical PR students about media relations, about building relationships with journalists? My PR students are steeped in the ethical and legal aspects of communication/public relations, including fairness and balance.  They get it.

The failing economy heightened the need for communicators/public relations practitioners to understand the relevant topics of finance, economics, and business management, with an emphasis on employee communication. I’ve been preaching this for decades, but I believe that this financial crisis finally drove home the message. 

I have seen a renewed effort by communicators/public relations practitioners to learn how to communicate about economic and financial issues in order to be more effective in representing their organizations with key publics. That makes me very happy indeed.

So much for 2008. There is more, of course, but let’s move on.

I love this time of the year. Out with the old, and in with the new. Rather than celebrate the New Year with noise and alcohol-induced reverie, I greet each New Year in quiet contemplation. I take a quick inventory of the year ending, then I think of all the promise the New Year holds.

I do not make a bold set of New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, I refine those goals that I have already set for myself, namely, to transform and evolve into a higher and better being here and now, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. That includes specifics of becoming a better communicator, teacher, friend, husband, father, grandfather, student, employee, and neighbor.

Onward and upward. I wish you the happiest and most prosperous of New Years. Thank you for reading MWL in 2008. I look forward to our dialogue in 2009.

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The news of John Edwards’ affair once again calls into question the integrity of newspapers like the New York Times and The Washington Post.

It took what these institutions of faded glory like to call a “rag”, the National Enquirer, to break the Edwards story. Good for you, National Enquirer. You now have credibility that the Times and the Post do not. Those two, with all of their resources, either were clueless to the obvious or so bent on covering up the scandal that they let the National Enquirer scoop them.

Either way, it is not acceptable. Honest and ethical public relations professionals have to work with these media types who all-too-frequently look down their haughty noses at us, too.

More With Les does not cover politics, and this is not about politics. It is about the sorry state of what passes for journalism these days.

But who cares? Biased, agenda-driven media like the Times and the Post can only watch as their readership numbers and ad revenues continue to be in free fall. The New York Times’ stock is one cut above a junk rating, Bloomberg reports. The outlook for the Post is grim, too, as it recorded a second quarter net loss due to steep advertising revenue declines, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The ascendancy of blogs and other Web-based news sources is well-documented. Daily newspapers shrink in both newsroom employees and influence as their ad revenues and subscription rates fall. And all the while social media is on the rise. The days of news filtered by “gatekeepers” like the Times and the Post are gone.

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