Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Psychology of Delusion 

There are many delusions we accept in society, and there is probably little PR should do about them. Take, for example, the decade-long desire among suburbanites to drive bigger and thirstier SUVs for no practical reason or the rush to buy pickup trucks they are never going to use for hauling.

This article discusses the delusion of the bigger and fancier kitchen. We put in mammoth stoves and huge refrigerators although we barely use a microwave to warm TV dinners. There is some psychological or cultural imperative that drives us to these decisions. PR often plays on these delusions to sell more products. Programs like "This Old House" show us dream renovations that few of us can afford, but we rush to Lowe's or The Home Depot and design new cabinetry.

The US runs on consumption, so in a way delusions are helpful to the economy, but one wonders if as PR practitioners we shouldn't be more honest. Or, perhaps, we should console ourselves with the thought that consumers know their desires and budgets best. Still, one looks at a lack of savings and escalating debt loads, and it is disturbing.

I would like a new kitchen though.

How to Foster Good Passenger Relationships 

This is one way airports can foster good relationships with passengers. Make sure they can't work. You wonder who would have ordered such a thing, if indeed it was intended to stop people from plugging in laptops.

Be Wary 

Be wary when a company always meets estimates. There is usually something like this going on in the background. Even the largest corporations used earnings smoothing over the decades. Investors like the certainty of earnings that march ever upward, and estimates that never miss. But real life is rarely like that. Companies have swings of good fortune and bad. CFOs have always known that, which is why they used "cookie jar" reserves to pull a few million here and a few million there to make earnings come out right. Today, of course, this is illegal, but you can be sure some CEOs and CFOs are still doing it in subtle ways.

From a PR perspective, it can only end in disaster if and when it is discovered. CEOs obsessed with making earnings and CFOs willing to comply are a danger. Boards know that, but the question is whether they can stop them. Reputations of individuals and of companies hang in the balance.

What Now, PR Experts? 

NBC TV in the US must be asking questions. It invested hundreds of millions in bringing the Winter Olympics to the American public -- and apparently, the public doesn't care. This seems to be a fundamental PR challenge. How does one get viewers interested in athletics that they don't see but once in four years?

I watched some of the broadcasts, and it seemed to me NBC was offering the programs more by rote than anything else. In some cases, anchors looked and sounded a bit bored. There were high moments like singles and pairs skating, but there were also segments where viewers were rushed through an event to see Americans and the final gold, silver and bronze runs then plucked off to something else.

There was plenty of publicity before and during the games. Special sections graced nearly every newspaper I saw. There were full-bore web sites, radio, blogging, etc. But, in the end, vaporous shows like American Idol commanded more attention than athletes who had prepared their whole lives to compete on the international scene.

Could it be that people really don't care that much about sports -- or that the sports themselves haven't built relationships with the public for the public to care? It's an interesting PR question and one NBC needs to solve.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Silence is Deafening 

We often say in PR that silence is deafening. What one chooses not to say is as important as what one speaks about. This study, already controversial, seeks to prove that.

Another Proof 

One more proof that business is amoral and how one chooses to do business defines the relationships one has. PR with its talk about corporate citizenship should never forget that good behavior is a moral, ethical decision that business can do without. That choice starts with the CEO and board and radiates from there. There are plenty of buccaneer business leaders who have no scruples about making deals with the devil. For the most part, they retire wealthy and live a good life.

The Modern Scarlet Letter 

Broad-minded PR practitioners should oppose internet sites like this. It leads to hysteria and witch hunts. There is a need to keep individuals, especially minors, safe, but there is also a need to guarantee rights of individuals who may or may not have done serious wrong. I am a firm believer in Free Speech but the Supreme Court long ago says no one has the right to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater. This site is equivalent to that. It seems to me to be a perversion of good citizenship and PR. (Yes, I did look up my home address, but that doesn't make me any less worried about what the outcome of such sites can be for neighbors.)

Long-Term Trend 

This is a long-term trend in the US, and it changes how we think and write about consumer expectations. Essentially, we've outspent ourselves and invested none too wisely. Now, debt loads and lack of wage growth drag us down. The brighter tomorrow is not as shining as it once was. It will be challenge to express that in PR.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Negative Relations - Part 2 

If you believe this opinion piece, the power of negative relations works well. Its contention is that a powerful minority has cowed America's media.

An Ad Age Query About PR 

This came in the e-mail from Ad Age yesterday. It says something about the marketing business and PR.

Assessing Glaxo's Highly Unusual PR PlanBe a Part of the News:VOTE IN THE AD AGE WEEKLY ONLINE POLL> BACKGROUND: This week's Ad Age story "GlaxoSmithKline Drafts Employees toPolish Industry Image" (http://www.adage.com/news.cms?newsId=47970) revealedthat the pharmaceutical giant is so troubled by the worsening reputation ofits industry that it plans to turn its entire 8,000-person U.S. sales force into an aggressive public relations team. The controversial concept of using employees as "public relations ambassadors" was devised by Michael Pucci,GSK's vice president for external advocacy. One critical marketing executivesaid, "I'm not sure I want 8,000 people on the ground given that level of responsibility to basically speak for the company and an industry ... The odds say there's going to be a percentage of them ... that will make a mistake, or stray away from the script." What do YOU think? From the pointof view of GSK's management logistics or likely results, do you think thisis a practical strategy for drug corporations that now rank just above tobacco and oil companies as targets of consumer scorn?> THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Will Glaxo employees' advocacy for the drug industryimprove its image?> VOTE & COMMENT for possible publication in next week's print edition ofAdvertising Age at http://www.adage.com/poll.cms

You might want to vote. I find it interesting that marketers worry more about a loss of control than getting facts to the grassroots. In other words, "advertising is always better because you can define that copy precisely."

Some things haven't changed in the marketing world and the idea of interactive conversation is still scary.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

You Never Know 

You never know where the next crisis might come from. It might be something as silly as this. Think of all the fast-food restaurants that are now checking ice machines because patrons are suddenly suspicious. CNN deserves to be criticized over tabloid news hyping, but the criticism is too little and too late. The mess is there for companies and PR practitioners to clean up.

Negative Relations 

How do you gain attention fast and anger people at the same time? Harm a sacred symbol. This type of negative relations has been around for millennia, and it always works well. It has built-in negative publicity value. And, as these things go, anger from an attack is directed everywhere, especially against the US in Iraq because "this never would have happened had the US not been here."

Give insurgents credit for knowing how to communicate negatively and effectively. They have worked hard to destabilize the country, and with smaller and poorly equipped forces, they have done so. They are careful to choose targets that get maximum publicity in Iraq and around the world. They are a near-perfect anti-relationship force determined to have their way over the majority no matter what it takes.

PR practitioners can learn a lot form studying situations such as this. They occur in the more civilized world as well when splinter groups wield power beyond their size by communicating more effectively than their opposition. It is said that Washington DC is run by special interests and not the majority of the populace, which doesn't care about many of the issues that special interest groups shout about.

If there is one lesson to take away from the destruction of 1,200-year-old Askariya shrine, it is never discount the communications ability of your opposition.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Political PR 

Never put anything past a politician seeking advantage -- even creative fibbing. Well, at least pols know how to use e-mail... One wonders if political PR has any relationship at all to the discipline we practice in the commercial world.

A Bit of Odd PR 

Hey kids! You too can be a cryptanalyst and work for the National Security Agency. Just visit our wonderful new spy page, CryptoKids.

I'm not making this up: I couldn't if I tried. You can untwist the problem of the "Fibbing Pencils" or "The King's Test." You can learn all about codes and cyphers.

I suppose this could be a fruitful PR effort. Rather odd, though.

Truth in PR 

If you ski, have you ever noticed how all ski advertisements and PR show lovely young lasses schussing a mountain with long blonde hair flying? Based on a day of skiing, I would like to see the PR modified for skiiers to something along the line of: "Learn how to ski with the fewest number of broken bones." Or, "Skiing with less pain."

I can barely move this morning with aches in every joint and bumps in unmentionable places where I sat down HARD. As you can tell, I never skiied when I was young, but my daughter wants to learn how -- and she is making progress. Old guys like me, however, don't learn to hurtle down slopes with joy and abandonment. It's more like plowing in terror. My only sense of victory is that I wasn't taken from a slope yesterday on a sled as many were. We saw young folk slamming the icy pack and lying still until help arrived. It's hard to help from 40 feet in the air on a ski lift, however.

Perhaps the real problem was the skiing conditions. Falling wasn't cushioned. It was like falling on ice. So, I'm ready to help a ski resort with PR, but it would have to be my version of it. How about, "Skiing in a cast?"

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Wages of Hype 

By any standard, the US Olympic team is not doing that well in Torino. But that is not the point of this entry. The one US athlete who was hyped more than any other in advance of the games was a wild-child skier who has proved disappointing. Perhaps it is the way of the sports world to build up and tear down, but Bode Miller aided and abetted his come-down with loose talk and underperformance. It seems that Miller has not learned to be humble in the media, and reporters are going out of their way to teach him a lesson.

No one minds a boast, if one can back it up. Miller allowed himself to be set on a pedestal and then took his own hammer to it. From a PR perspective, it was a dumb move. He would have been far better off to have kept a lower profile and allowed his actions to catch up with the promotion. I'm not sure Miller had PR counsel. If he didn't, he needed it.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Know Thyself 

In corporate positioning and branding, PR practitioners and marketers say the most important task is for company leaders to describe an organization accurately to key audiences. I have written that often enough. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to do.

What is General Electric? What is Tyco? What is any conglomerate composed of many dissimilar businesses with vast global audiences of many segments? In some cases, they are cultures such as General Electric, which is a model of management, or they are financial vehicles, such as Tyco, which is breaking into three entities. Or, they could be defined by customers, or any number of things. The leaders of such businesses may not know their positioning and yet, be successful.

So, how does one position a company that doesn't know its positioning? I don't know the answer exactly. One posits a positioning that is a simulacrum of what is largely there. For example, GE is trumpeting environmentalism, and the company is focused sharply on achieving energy saving and cleaner technologies. But that isn't all of GE by any stretch. GE Capital, one of the largest arms of the conglomerate, mints money and not machinery. It's a case of the leader saying who we say we are. That works as long as the CEO pursues the definition. It doesn't if the definition is merely a sentence slapped on to a release, advertisement or plan.

Positioning is easy with some companies and difficult with others, but both entities can do well in the marketplace. Doesn't that tell one something?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Some PR Disasters Never Seem To Go Away 

Like this one.

Days Late and A Reputation Short 

Vice President Dick Cheney has finally broken his self-imposed silence on the shooting incident. He's damaged his reputation and created a mess for his boss, but he doesn't seem to mind. If his reasoning is truthful about why he failed to speak earlier, his news sense is lacking as well. Perhaps he needs remedial PR.

Not What I Call Good PR 

Yessir, we want YOU to come and blog for us and publicize our record artists. Of course, we won't pay you anything, and you will be spamming folks who won't appreciate being manipulated but think of the experience you'll get.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


This is interesting. Daniel Okrent, the first public editor of The New York Times, points to credibility as the reason why mainstream can survive the onslaught of blogs. A PR person couldn't have said it better. Mainstream media survive on the basis of accuracy and fairness. It is the reason why The New York Times became the great paper that it is (or was) in the first place. It is PR mantra that the credibility of an independent third party is stronger than advertising. It's nice to know Okrent agrees. (Perhaps he is a PR practitioner in disguise.)

Nice to Know 

We've known since the beginning of e-mail that one must be careful in expressing feelings. A recipient may misjudge the emotion. Well, here is an experiment that shows just how hard it is to determine the feelings of a person on the other end of an e-mail. The subjects didn't do much better than random guessing, yet they were sure they knew how the other person felt. This is a set-up for misunderstanding. No wonder emoticons were popular from the beginning of e-mail.

But, it is easy to forget how hard it is to express emotion in print and have it understood accurately. My belief is that it is best not to try. Write simply, clearly and without adjectives and adverbs. E-mail is best for conveying information and not feelings.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Federal PR Contracts 

A tip of the hat to to PRwatch.org for this news revealing how much the Federal government is spending on PR. It's a lot. One wonders why the Defense Department feels it needs to much PR.

Power Law Blogging 

This is a fascinating article on blogging and power law distribution in case you haven't read it yet. I noted with some amusement the following sentences toward the end of the article:

“The good news is that it’s still possible to create a top-ranked blog,” says Shirky. “The bad news is, the way to get into the top ten now seems to be public relations.” Just posting witty entries and hoping for traffic won’t do it. You have to actively seek out attention from the press. “That’s how they’re jump-starting the links structure. It’s not organic.”

So, according to the blog leaders, starting a blog is no longer enough. You need PR flacks out there pushing it. I wish I could say that means business for us, but I don't believe it. Most bloggers don't have the money to pour into PR campaigns. At least, this blogger doesn't.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Corporate Media Relations 

There have been signs in recent years that the state of corporate media relations has not been healthy since the Internet Bubble broke. Individuals like Jack O"Dwyer have opined that corporate PR now treats media requests like "drive-by shootings." The Financial Times in a column on Friday blasted corporate PR (subscription required) for hiding CEOs. My colleagues discussed on several occasions a reluctance we see among CEOs to deal with business media. A former colleague, just laid off from a major PR firm, told me this past weekend that he sees CEOs hiding in their offices. CEOs depend now on investor relations and talk only to the Street, primarily because they have to.

A question we asked at Robert Marston And Associates was whether there was economic justification for a business press from a CEO's perspective. An answer we arrived at early was there isn't for some companies, but there is for others. That wasn't helpful, because it wasn't clear which companies needed corporate media relations and which didn't. This set off a bout of thinking and writing about five weeks ago. My first outline was way off the mark. My colleagues told me to go back and refocus my thinking. That took time and another outline that became this essay, which is now the 57th in the white paper series on online-pr.com.

My colleagues say the essay smacks more of a lecture, but I had to condense the argument to fit a decent length. This, of course, opens me to criticism, if you feel logic is not based on solid-enough evidence. That is why we call the essay a "discussion paper." It is designed to open the issue to a broader argumentation to determine if there is economic justification for working with business media, other than compliance with SEC Fair Disclosure rules.

You are welcome to use the paper or to disagree with it and with the author. If you disagree, please write and tell me why. The paper is a working document. Thanks.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I Feel Better 

A couple of weeks ago, I reported on a spreadsheet model I had built for a company that contained a 600% error in a critical factor. That was embarrassing to me personally but a colleague spotted the mistake, and we fixed it long before it went out the door to the client.

That makes a press release like this one doubly embarrassing for Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting company that made mistakes in advising the Federal Communications Commission. The release goes out of its way to take the blame from the FCC and dump it squarely on the consulting firm. Frankly, I think it goes overboard, and it smacks of defensiveness. I don't know who wrote the release, but it could have been toned down a bit. On the other hand, never underestimate the righteousness of Federal bureaucrats. They're making a point here with a sledgehammer.

I have never written a release like this yet. I hope I never have to.

Big Bucks PR 

This report is a PR gambit with high stakes, proving that Wall Street knows how to play the communications game. It will be interesting to see if it works. One has to wonder, though, whether 343 pages of analysis is any more effective than, say, 50. One lesson in communications and PR that I've learned over the years is to get to the point. Bigger isn't always better.

What Do They Know? 

GM knows more than I ever will about cars and trucks but this seems strange, or the article is written in an odd manner. It appears that both GM and Ford have ruptured customer relationships over the years. Otherwise their market shares wouldn't be falling as they are. Yet, here is GM pinning its hopes on a vehicle that is certain to chew more gas than the average sedan. There must be something about the American public that doesn't deter customers from buying big vehicles even with high gas prices. Or, at least GM thinks so.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Another Message 

Allstate Corp. announced that it will no longer insure homes built close to the water in the New York area because of possible damage from hurricanes. Allstate's action was a clear message that it cannot handle any more storms like Katrina and the damage it wrought on the Gulf Coast. It was also a message to householders who live by the ocean. That message: "You are on your own." Of course, householders will get insurance coverage. They will pay more for it from someone else.

Allstate's action might look selfish to some, but it is courageous to others. We have known for decades that building on coastlines was dangerous, but no one would stop it. And, when there was major damage, homeowners were allowed to rebuild again only to watch their homes swept away in a few years.

Allstate's action is a common-sense stand, it seems to me, that private industry should not have to backstop foolish choices. Good PR sometimes requires one to take an unpopular position. I have no doubt Allstate is going to lose even more business in New York because of its decision, but that is better in the short run than bankruptcy in the long run.


General Motors highly visible action of cutting its dividend and slashing salaries of senior executives was as much symbolic as it was effective in cutting cash flow. It was a PR statement to shareholders, employees, suppliers, customers and the world that the company is taking its turnaround seriously.

GM's executives aren't going to be hurt that much by the salary cuts. Recent research into executive compensation shows that it soared from 1993 through 2003 in both cash and equity remuneration. CEOs and top executive staff did well -- too well, some would contend. But that is partly the point. The board could not stand by and allow its top executives to be rewarded splendidly when GM is teetering. If they turn around General Motors and get it on a sustainable basis, they will get rewards that are much larger than those they have foregone. And, no one will mind all that much, except perhaps employees who will bear the brunt of cutbacks. From a PR perspective, GM's executives would be wise never to restore their pay to prior levels. That would forestall complaints from the union.

But that issue is in the future. There are plenty of hard times for General Motors before it sees a clear path. The opening salvo of symbolic action was effective. It caught everyone's attention.

A Law of Physics 

"Gain energy: Lose energy" is the first law of thermodynamics. It seems to be a first law of innovation as well -- at least in autos. Automakers have a PR risk in silence, and it appears they will have to add the same beepers that trucks and commercial equipment use to warn people that hybrid autos are backing up.


Why is transparency important online as it is elsewhere? Because you can tick off your customers when they find out you have been manipulating them. You get stories like this and this and this. It's a reputation wrecker whether one intends it or not. The company that apparently has been seeding sites for Nvidia seems to do undercover work regularly. Perhaps there are times when it works well, but one runs the risk of getting bitten. It's better in the end to be upfront.

I have written in the past that I didn't think it crossed the line to ask a question without identifying oneself, but no more than that. There are those who disagree with asking anonymous questions, and I think now they are right. There's little to be gained by fooling those whom you wish to build a relationship with. It's a fundamental sign of disrespect and lack of trust.

There is good reason for transparency, and buzz marketers especially need to learn the lesson.

Self-inflicted Wounds - Part 2 

BMW should have known better than to try a stunt like this. Now the company has to backtrack in front of the online community and listen to the snickers as well. I'm sure BMW's CEO wasn't aware this was happening. It almost certainly took place deep inside the organization. The CEO gets to clean up the mess, though.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Self-inflicted Wounds 

There is nothing so frustrating as a self-inflicted wound -- a dumb act that should never have occurred but did. This is a case with severe ramifications that have been bedeviling The Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette for the past week. It is easy to envision the publisher raging in his office at how such a stupid thing could have happened. How could anyone use paper with people's credit card numbers printed on them as scrap rather than shredding it? Who was thinking?

The newspapers, however, seemed to be doing the right thing, given the embarrassment. They fessed up immediately, put banks of operators into action and are doing what they can to ward off potential damage. One could say there wasn't much else that they could do, but there was. They could have denied it or said that it was minimal. They could have stonewalled reporters and anyone who wanted to find out. They could have trotted out lawyers and hid behind legal "no comments." They haven't, as far as I can tell.

The most important thing the newspapers can do is to make sure that such stupidity never happens again, and they seem to be moving that way rapidly.

Every company, every organization, risks harming itself through an unintended but extremely dumb act. CEOs should never be too proud of how their operations run, and they should always be alert to the PR and reputational damage one screw-up can cause.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Interview With An Academic 

A longtime friend of mine, Don Bates of Media Distribution Services, suggested that I interview a friend of his, John Pavlik, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Dept. of Journalism and Media Studies; Director, The Journalism Resources Institute at the Rutgers School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies (SCILS).

Dr. Pavlik was kind enough to answer my questions, which are focused on changes in journalism education. Here then is the interview with Dr. Pavlik.

Question: How is journalism teaching changing in an era of declining newspapers, fragmenting TV and rise of online publishing from web sites through community news and blogs?

Answer: There are many changes happening, but basically there is a recommitment to teaching students the fundamentals of critical thinking, writing and research. Beyond that, students are learning about the changing world of media, convergence in a digital, networked environment, and how to report through new media. Students are learning about the impact of new media in at least four ways: 1) how the work of media professionals is changing, 2) how the content of media is changing, 3) how the structure, culture and management of media organizations is changing, and 4) and how the relationships between or among media and their publics are changing, including relationships with the audience (which is increasingly actively communicating and not just receiving media content), competitors, sources, funders and regulators of media in a global arena.

Question: Where are your graduates going to work these days and what kinds of salaries are they able to get?

Answer: Graduates in journalism and media need to be increasingly flexible and adaptable. They need to be willing to relocate. They need to consider starting in small markets. They need to get internship experience while in school. There are increasing opportunities in new media, including online, and for freelance work. Salaries are not always what they were in the dot com boom, but there are opportunities for entry-level work and for advancement. Salaries are up compared to five or six years ago. An annual salary survey(http://www.grady.uga.edu/ANNUALSURVEYS/center.htm) shows that the median salary earned by graduates of journalism and media programs in 2004 nationally was $27,800, compared to $26,988 in 2000.

Question: The pay scales don't seem much different than when I graduated from University of Missouri in the mid-1970s. Is my perspective accurate?

Answer: Yes, the situation isn’t much improved. If journalism and media isn’t one’s calling, then it’s not probably going to be satisfying, at least from a financial perspective.)

Question: Who is the typical journalism student at Rutgers? Is he or she a person who is already net savvy and perhaps, already writing a blog?

Answer: Rutgers is among the most diverse schools in the nation, and those students who study journalism and media are no exception. It's very difficult to provide a single profile of all our students. Our graduates are well versed in the fundamentals of good journalism and media practices. They know how to report and write. They know about new media trends and developments. They know about blogs and podcasts, and many produce their own (in my courses, students are required to create a blog). They are adept at online and off-line research. They have sharp critical thinking skills and a keen sense of ethics.

Question: How has the decline of mass media affected your view of journalism?

Answer: Our program has adapted. A decade ago, our program was called, "Journalism and Mass Communication." Today, the department is called, "Journalism and Media Studies." The faculty long recognized the shifting media landscape. Media are more important in people's lives than ever before. But, media are increasingly personalized, interactive and dynamic. The audience is increasingly actively engaged with media. The role of journalism and media is changing and we focus largely on that changing landscape.

Question: What now do you see as the future of journalism and how do you counsel students seeking journalism careers?

Answer: Predicting the future of any field is fraught with difficulties and challenges, and likely to be wrong. But, since you asked, I'll hazard an educated guess. I envision a system of journalism and media that is increasingly convergent, digital and online, mobile and interactive, on-demand, real-time and expensive. Privacy and freedom of speech will be valued by the citizenry but under assault on a variety of fronts, both domestic and international. Journalism will be more important than ever, but who is a journalist will be a fundamental question. Bloggers and podcasters will be right along side journalists and traditional news media. Ethics and independence of thought will be principles that will differentiate the good from the bad and ugly in the future of journalism.

Question: Would you care to comment further on the good, bad and ugly in journalism? Will journalism’s future be much different from journalism’s past?

Answer: One of the bad or ugly aspects of free speech is that sometimes it can be offensive. Sometimes, sloppy reporting can lead to inaccurate reporting. Lack of fact checking can lead to published errors, and these can have serious consequences. Reporting in real-time and without reliable sources can lead to the spreading of unfounded rumors and this has been seen online as well as off. Leaks can produce damaging misinformation. But, as Thomas Jefferson once said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Question: Are you teaching convergence journalism skills in which the reporter does everything from filming through blogging and article writing?

Answer: We have courses that feature convergent thinking and practices, and a curriculum that reflects these ideas. However, good, solid critical thinking, interviewing, writing and reporting power the engine. But, that said, students learn about new ways of gathering information made possible through convergence, and they learn new ways to tell stories in an online, interactive and mobile media system.

Question: Is there anything else that I should have asked to understand how journalism teaching is changing in the internet era?

Answer: I would only add that the most important thing for journalism and media students to learn while in school in this era is that the world is continually changing and what they learn is school is only the beginning of a lifetime of learning. The most important lesson they can take away from school is how to learn. Technology will continue to evolve and emerging new media may radically transform the world. Lifelong learning and adaptation is needed by our students if they are to achieve a lifetime of success as chroniclers of the truth.

Question: What happens, in your opinion, to journalists and others when they leave the academic environment that so many apparently fail to keep up?

Answer: I think keeping up with the changing world, especially as it moves forward at a blistering pace, is a daunting task. It underscores the value of continuing education, and this is something we specialize in at the Journalism Resources Institute. I’d like to see us be able to expand and do even more and serve even more journalists and news/media organizations.

Thank you, Dr. Pavlik, for the insights.

A Little Late to Protest 

This is interesting. Where were newspapers when aggregators began to gather headlines about five years ago? It seems late to protest usage of news material. For that reason, publishers have created their own PR problem, and it smacks of hypocrisy.

Blogs and Public Affairs 

I had missed this article earlier, but it's an excellent discussion with examples of how blogs have changed public affairs in Washington. I suspect this will become -- or already is -- the case in state politics.

Read the article with some caution, however. It opens with a focus on social security and blogging's impact on Bush's proposals. Social security is a flash point issue, so it was relatively easy to gain attention. I wonder what blogging would do for financial disclosure questions being debated at the Securities and Exchange Commission or obscure tax code provisions being discussed in the halls of Congress. I suspect blogging would not have as much impact.

My guess is that blogging is not yet a universal tool for public affairs, but it is an increasingly important one.

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