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Archive for August 2006

The end of the world, III — caused by pancakes?

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We’ve all heard about video news releases. And we know that both government and industry have provided broadcast media with VNRs that get used without attribution to their true source.

But fake news about pancakes? Jeez. C’mon. That’s a new low.

According to the Center for Media and Democracy, General Mills hired mediaslinger Medialink Worldwide to produce a 75-second fake news segment about “creative new ideas for pancake dishes.”

Several stations ran the VNRs unedited and put their own text overlays under GM’s “reporter” — as if the fake reporter was a member of the station’s staff.

Sheesh. Stations tossed out their credibility for pancakes? All the maple syrup in the world won’t make these stations palatable again.

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

August 26, 2006 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Check out challengers before you vote Nov. 7

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Democrats have increasingly greater chances to win a growing number of Congressional races, says The Hill News. Although recent polls may dispute that optimism (here and here), Bush bashers and Congress critics might be rejoicing that “here’s our chance to get it right.”

Be careful what you wish for. A spiffy new Democratic replacement for a retread Republican pol might not be a good swap — especially if the Democratic wannabe practices the grand old political arts of prevarication, inflation and misinformation that got the incumbent the job in the first place. If the wannabe is just as vague in political speech as the incumbent, think carefully before you pull the lever Nov. 7. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

August 24, 2006 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

PML: Trade associations toss more money into lobbying feds

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From the Political Money Line:

National Trade Associations Increase Lobby $
8/16/2006

Lobbying expenditure reports from organizations that lobbied the legislative and executive braches of the Federal government during the first six months of 2006 are starting to become available to the public. The filing date for reports was August 14th.

Major increases in spending were reported by the US Telecom Association, the Chamber of Commerce of the U.S., the National Association of Realtors, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Top tier spending was reported by the following organizations:

• US Telecom Assn. $15,280,000 (up from $5,340,000 spent in the last 6 months of 2005)
• Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. $14,300,000 (up from $10,540,000) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

August 23, 2006 at 1:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The end of the world is here, Part II

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There, parked on the June cover of Vanity Fair, is the newsman of the Rave New World, Anderson Cooper. The text associated with his name reads: “A heartbreaking memoir … The shock of his brother’s suicide; the horror of Katrina.”

The subhead on the Salon.com story says: “Star newsman Anderson Cooper is defined less by his experience than by an old-fashioned Hollywood marketing campaign.” [emphasis added] That’s not news to people these days. He’s more apt to be praised because of his empathetic style rather than his journalistic substance.

But Neal Gabler’s fine piece is more about what Cooper represents than about Cooper himself. As Gabler says, “CNN obviously has invested a great deal in its new wonder boy, and the network has been marketing him aggressively, though no more so than CBS is marketing its new anchor, Katie Couric. In doing so, however, CNN is not just boosting an anchor. It is changing the very paradigm of television news.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

August 23, 2006 at 9:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Depopulating the painters of the second-hand world

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Half a century ago, sociologist C. Wright Mills wrote of the “second-hand world,” one in which much of people’s experience of the world comes, literally, second-hand — through media:

[I]n their everyday life they do not experience a world of solid fact; their experience itself is selected by stereotyped meanings and shaped by readymade interpretations. Their images of the world, and of themselves, are given to them by crowds of witnesses they have never met and never shall meet.

Yet for every man these images – provided by strangers and dead men – are the very basis of his life as a human being.
[emphasis added]

For me, the bulk of meaning and experience I have not witnessed directly has come to me from brilliant photographers and journalists. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

August 22, 2006 at 9:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Lousy story underscores weak economic, fiscal reporting

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The Associated Press chose to focus Friday on the size of the federal deficit in its report on the Congressional Budget Office’s latest forecast. That story, frankly, reeked. [Thx to lullabypit. I commented on his post earlier and decided to pull it up here.]

The AP’s deficit story missed the important role of economic growth because it chose to focus on one stark number of such magnitude that it must portend doom. Clearer editorial thinking (and abandonment of the Rolodex reporting style) could have produced a more useful story. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

August 18, 2006 at 2:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Our well-oiled Congress gets $6.1 million in grease

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You’re standing next to your car, nozzle in hand, mesmerized by the numbers spinning by on the pump. You’ve heard that BP PLC-operated Prudhoe Bay oilfield and production facility has been shut down, dropping domestic oil supply 8 percent.

Oil contracts closed Monday a few cents under $77 a barrel. You imagine the numbers on the pump spinning even higher in the weeks and months to come.

“Why,” you shout, wagging your finger at innocent passersby, “hasn’t Congress done anything about these (insert fave epithet here) gas prices?”

Could part of the answer be that the oil and gas industry has contributed $6.1 million to incumbents in the 2006 congressional election cycle?

Here’s the breakdown for the House and Senate. See what your House representative got. And see what your senator received.

Now, don’t you feel much better knowing how well the oil and gas industry is taking care of our politicians?

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

August 8, 2006 at 4:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized