Category: Uncategorized

Ducks to Represent Huskies in Pac-12

Seattle, WA, April 1, 2013/PR Newswire/The University of Washington and the University of Oregon have completed a preliminary memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreement calling for the University of Washington to outsource its Athletic Department teams to the University of Oregon.

Under the terms of the agreement, which takes effect immediately, all overlapping University of Washington sports, including football and men’s basketball, will be transferred to the administration and coaching provided by the University of Oregon. The exceptions are men’s and women’s crew and women’s gymnastics teams, which will still compete under the banner of the University of Washington in the Pac-12 Conference.


The Athletic MOU follows on the heels of a similar academic pact between the two Northwest universities in which the University of Washington outsourced the teaching and research of business administration, architecture and allied arts, law, and journalism and communication to the respective professional programs offered by the University of Oregon.

Speaking at a joint news conference today at the University of Washington campus, Washington Athletic Director Scott Woodward saluted the University of Oregon for its protracted dominance in athletics, particularly the Ducks nine-game winning streak over Washington in football and its three-game sweeps in both men’s basketball and beisboll.

“The ‘Washington Way’ has become the ‘Oregon Way,’” said Woodward. “We have competed to the best of our natural abilities, but there comes a time when you have to accept reality: Oregon is a consistently better program in the Pacific Northwest. I am calling upon all Washington students, alumni, Tyee Club members and fans in the Seattle metropolitan area to become lifelong supporters of the Oregon Ducks.”

Woodward announced that Tyee Club donations will be transferred to the Duck Athletic Fund and that a Duck Store outlet will be established on the University of Washington campus to sell Nike Duck gear in emerald green, yellow, black and gray to support UW’s new teams. “Mighty Oregon” will replace “Bow Wow Washington” as the official fight song for the University of Washington.

The Washington Athletic Director acknowledged that other uses will have to be found for Husky Stadium on Lake Washington and Alaska Airlines Arena to justify their recent $250 million+ upgrades. Benefit concerts featuring Justin Bieber, Barry Manilow and Donnie and Marie Osmond will be held as Husky Stadium this summer (dates TBD) to celebrate the strategic athletic outsourcing agreement.

Woodward said that the University of Oregon Athletic Department agreed as part of the MOU to seriously consider outgoing UW Football Coach Steve Sarkisian and UW Basketball Coach Lorenzo Romar and their respective staffs for future coaching, administrative and facilities vacancies at the University of Oregon Athletic Department.

“We appreciate this a very difficult day for the University of Washington administration, the UW Athletic Department, the Tyee Club members, alums, students and fans,” said University of Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens. “The University of Washington administration deserves credit for having the courage to initially approach the University of Oregon about the possibility of an athletic outsourcing agreement. We are humbled by the realization that we are representing two universities in Pac-12 play.”

Mullens said a portion of the transferred Tyee Fund donations will be used to expand the 54,000-seat Autzen Stadium to accommodate University of Washington students at the enhanced student section at University of Oregon home games. University of Washington football season ticket holders will have limited opportunities to buy seats at an enlarged Autzen Stadium.


Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said the University of Washington will retain its membership in the Pac-12 conference as an “emeritus” university. Scott said he is open to the possibility of Oregon State University and Washington State University entering into similar MOUs with the University of Oregon resulting in the entire Pacific Northwest being represented on fields and courts by University of Oregon student athletes. Scott confirmed that Portland State University will be considered as a replacement conference member for the “emeritus” University of Washington.

Scott said the Oregon Ducks represented both the University of Oregon and University of Washington student bodies and respective university families in their Sweet 16 matchup against Louisville last Friday in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Safe Harbor Statement: This preliminary strategic Athletic Department Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between the University of Washington and the University of Oregon is effective and duly constituted upon the playing of the “Sweet 16” game between the University of Oregon and the University of Louisville on March 29, 2013. All University of Washington athletic records with the exception of the men’s and women’s crew teams and the women’s gymnastics team will remain the official records of the University of Washington Athletic Department. They will be housed in the University of Washington Athletics Museum in which Washington fans can remember the days in which UW actually  fielded its own sports teams. A final Memoranda of Understanding will be consummated between the University of Washington and the University of Oregon later this calendar year. A corresponding MOU between the University of Washington and the Pacific-12 Conference designating an “emeritus” status for the University of Washington Athletic Department is expected to be signed in the next 90 days. None of the stipulations stated above should be constituted as a guarantee by the University of Washington administration or its agents.

About the University of Washington

Founded in 1861 by a private gift of 10 acres in what is now the heart of downtown Seattle, the UW is one of the oldest public universities on the West Coast. We’re deeply committed to upholding the responsibility that comes with that legacy. And being public has always meant being accessible. Anyone can enjoy and be enriched by all the UW has to offer, including world-class libraries, art, music, drama, sports and the highest quality medical care in Washington state. Being public also means being engaged with our communities, and through knowledge and discovery we are elevating the quality of lives of others.

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon, founded in 1876, is the state’s flagship institution. Located in Eugene, an energetic college town, the university offers academic excellence and hands-on learning opportunities in a welcoming atmosphere. Towering trees shade the 295-acre campus, where students, faculty members, and employees from a wide variety of backgrounds share a commitment to preserving the environment and pursuing innovation in more than 260 academic programs that range from Eugene to Portland and from the coast to the mountains.

The number three-ranked Oregon Ducks begin practice tomorrow with a big-time, storm-cloud hanging over the program.

It is the prospect of some kind of NCAA penalty (ranging from the proverbial wrist slap to something much more substantial) arising from a $25,000 payment to “recruiting services” guru/ “street agent”/stud athlete “mentor” Willie Lyles of Houston, Texas.

Under the advice of the department’s hired legal gun, sports attorney Mike “The Cleaner” Glazier of the Collegiate Sports Practice Group of Bond, Schoeneck & King, Head Coach Chip Kelly and/or Athletic Director Rob Mullens will deliberately be both cautious and boring with the media when asked about Lyles. Why unintentionally resurrect the incident, when a more interesting competing story is at hand…the commencement of fall practice and the preparation for the nationally televised opener Sept. 3 against LSU?

Kelly as expected tomorrow will mumble something about allowing Glazier’s internal probe of the le affaire Lyles while continuing to cooperate with the NCAA. This is a textbook public relations punt formation.

But is there another course that Oregon can take that may even win the approval of legal counsel and at the same time improve the program’s reputation and brand?

How about being on the side of working with the NCAA on legislation that essentially curtails so-called “street agents” that are trying to ultimately make big bucks off high-school football prodigies? Isn’t this another way of cooperating with the NCAA? Instead of being seen as being part of the problem, why doesn’t Oregon become part of the solution?

Former President Bill Clinton confounded his Republican critics in the wake of charges that he illegally raised campaign funds for both himself and the Democratic National Committee from the Oval Office. After the allegations were made, he quickly pivoted and became a champion of “campaign finance reform.” Some offered the metaphor of Al Capone opposing bank robbing after he was caught red-handed to describe Clinton’s actions. Nonetheless, Clinton offered a solution to the issue and took political steam away from his critics.

In no way in offering this aside am I comparing the Oregon Athletic Department to the Clinton administration. What I am saying is that street agents are a clear-and-present danger to the integrity of high school and college football. It all arises from gobs and gobs of guaranteed millions being thrown at NFL rookies (regardless of the recently adopted Collective Bargaining Agreement).

It certainly has not escaped the attention of these youth “mentors” the size of the bank accounts of Leigh Steinberg, Scott Boras and other mega agents in professional sports. Ten percent or more of multi-million contracts is 10 percent or more of multi-million contracts. As Cuba Gooding Jr. made his agent Tom Cruise repeatedly recite in Jerry Maguire: “Show Me the Money.”

And if a “mentor” running a “recruiting service” can befriend a precocious super stud at a young age in making a decision regarding a big name college program?…That potentially leads to a successful collegiate career…Might that grateful student-athlete then turn to this “friend” as his agent when it comes time to sign a multi-year contract and related athletic shoe endorsement deal? Can you say: “Ka-Ching?”

The issue of real agents, street agents, mentors, recruiting services, seven-on-seven sponsors, football and basketball camp coordinators or whatever the cute names for the services these individuals offer, the issue is here and now before the NCAA. Oregon and by extension LSU and Cal (which also have engaged in business relationships with Lyles…and most likely others) has specialized knowledge. Can this unique insight be put to work without endangering an institution’s legal position with the NCAA?

Obviously, Oregon needs to protect itself in proceedings undertaken by the NCAA and Pac-12 conference. That is why “The Cleaner” and his firm were hired. Having acknowledged that, the Oregon Athletic Department can be a force for good. It should be working…cooperating with the NCAA in severely restricting the access of these leaches to immature and impressionable young men. They are not in the position of deciding who should represent them as a professional agent at 17-years of age.

The NCAA should pass tough legislation directly aimed at these individuals that prey on young athletes for their own long-term gain. The member schools have a direct interest in curbing this obvious abuse that is only going to get worse if it continues unchecked. Besides cooperating with the NCAA’s request for information about Lyles, Oregon (and presumably others) should work with the NCAA to resolve this problem.

It is not only good public relations with the NCAA and the general public; it is the right thing to do as well.


The conventional wisdom is the media seizes on bad news, much like sharks thrashing to the scent of blood in the water, and virtually ignores good news.

But what if GOOD news happens to individuals and affiliations NOT in accord with the prevailing philosophy of the media? Think of it this way: If a tree falls in a forest, does it make any sound?

And if BAD news happens to individuals and affiliations IN accord with the prevailing philosophy of the media? Hmmm…does the tree metaphor still apply?

What am I babbling about?

What if Standard & Poors Corp., Moody’s Investor Service or Fitch Investors Service, Inc., (or any combination thereof) choose to withstand the intense behind-the-scenes lobbying from the White House and/or Treasury and actually downgrades federal debt from its hallowed Triple A bond rating?

Will the media cover the story? Sure.

Will the media bludgeon the president and Treasury? Not so sure.

That means the bad news/good news tendencies of the media don’t always apply.

If the downgrade does occur, you can be certain that Mitt Romney, Rick Perry (assuming the Texas Governor chooses to run) and presumably other Republican contenders will use this subject in political “comparison” ads. The question remains how will the media view these ads? Will they rally around President Obama?

Alas, this subject is not new to me. I was still-green-behind-the-ears as an assistant press secretary when California first lost its vaunted Triple A credit rating in 1983. The resulting media coverage was in a word: explosive.

And when California regained its best-possible credit rating three years later, the coverage from the exalted members of the Fourth Estate was almost non-existent.

Will that be the case this time around if the US loses its Triple A credit rating a little more than 12 months before President Barack Obama goes before the voters?

Not necessarily.

Naturally, there is a difference between Washington D.C., the Citadel of Infinite Wisdom, and California, a mere state.

There is also a difference between a Republican governor, a Democratic president and the treatment of the two by the political media, especially the elites.

As a rookie press assistant back in 1983, I found out all about Moody’s, Standard & Poors and Fitch’s ratings on the credit worthiness of California debt. It’s analogous to credit ratings for individuals.

California had a new governor, my boss George Deukmejian. He inherited a $1.5 billion deficit (almost sounds quaint by today’s standards), a post-recessionary economy and Democrats dominating Sacramento.

And then came the thud of the credit downgrade. Screaming headlines and editorials demanded a tax increase making the government bigger, to restore California’s Triple A bond rating. The governor refused, used his veto pen, and insisted on a $1 billion reserve for emergencies.

The Triple A bond rating was restored three years later, but it was a non-event for California’s political media, the very same crowd that was attempting to dance on the governor’s political grave upon the downgrade just 36 months or so earlier.

One Democrat in particular noted the glaring discrepancy in the coverage, California state Treasurer at the time, Jess “Big Daddy” Unruh. It was also no secret of the animosity between Unruh and the Democratic nominee for Governor, LA Mayor Tom Bradley. Unruh sent the signal that he was open to a bipartisan media gathering celebrating California’s return to a Triple A bond rating.

And on July 30, 1986 there was an extraordinary news conference in the state Capitol with Republican Governor Deukmejian standing beside Democratic Treasurer (and former Speaker of the Assembly) Unruh extolling the return of California’s Triple A bond rating. They also reminded the media of the discrepancy in attention between when California lost the highest bond rating in 1983 and the dearth of coverage three years later.

After Unruh praised California’s “fine” governor, he was asked who he was supporting for California’s top job. He replied: “Who’s running?”

Certainly, no one should be rooting for the country to lose its Triple A bond rating for paper issued by the government. The result would be an international loss of prestige as well as taxpayers paying more for the government to float bonds to pay for its operations. And today, Fitch indicated that a downgrade may not be in the cards. However, Fitch made no long-term guarantees. And what about the other bond rating houses?

A downgrade between now and November 2012 could be politically devastating to the re-election prospects of Barack Obama . . . or maybe not. A lot depends on the media. After all, they set the agenda for how we think and act in America. Right? Err . . . Correct?

…when the circle-the-wagons strategy clearly is not working and your reputation and brand equity are in serious jeopardy. What are the golden rules for Crisis Communications? Tell the truth. Tell it all. Tell it fast. And say what you are going to do about it…And most of all: Don’t even think about covering it up.

As a 21-year University of Oregon football season ticket holder, a member of the Duck Athletic Fund for just as many years and now as a Graduate Teaching Fellow, pursuing a master’s degree from the UO School of Journalism and Communication, I am not exactly an unbiased and dispassionate commentator. Let’s face it: I bleed emerald-green and lemon-yellow or whatever combination of hues the Ducks are wearing sporting the Nike logo on a given Saturday…or Thursday, Friday etc.

At the same time, I have also been engaged in some very serious crisis comms activities during the course of my three-decade career in public relations most notably California’s response to the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake in San Francisco. I have dealt with more-than-my-fair share of chanting demonstrators, taunting political hacks, screaming reporters and editors to last a lifetime.

Now that I have made this necessary disclosure, I have to admit that these stories about Oregon and its relationship with Texas high-school football stud “mentor” Willie Lyles are very difficult to read particularly as both a passionate Oregon fan and as a communications choreographer.

The story of Oregon’s $25,000 payment to Lyles for recruiting services (some allege illegal contact with intensely recruited running backs LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk) refuses to settle down. It’s time to make the call: This story has legs and the submerged submarine strategy is not working, and will not work.

It was revealed last week that the Oregon Athletic Department hired renowned sports attorney Mike Glazier, otherwise known as the “Cleaner.” He and his firm, the Collegiate Sports Practice Group of Bond, Schoeneck & King, have reportedly counseled Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Florida, Missouri, Minnesota and others in dealing with NCAA investigations and probes. Oregon is paying big billable hours in the face of the Willie Lyles caper.

And obviously if you are paying that kind of money to someone who knows something about the NCAA, it makes sense to listen to him and his colleagues. Having said that, the typical advice from attorneys is usually to shut down all public communications. After all, the NCAA and Pac-12 will ultimately decide Oregon’s fate, even if the university later decides to self-impose penalties. And for a while that strategy appeared to be working. If Oregon Sports Information Director Dave Williford has nothing new to say, the story gets boring. And if the story gets duller by the minute the media goes elsewhere for news.

That changed today with the publication by Yahoo Sports of its interview with Lyles, complete with personal notes to Lyles from Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly. Lyles is contending that Oregon frantically was asking for recruiting information…any information…to justify the payment for recruiting services…not for assistance in landing four-and-five star players.

The time has come for a change in strategy and the attorney will most likely counsel to the contrary. The highly compensated cleaner and his colleagues should have their say and be part of the process, but this story is not going away. If Oregon does not talk, others will continue to talk. Oregon’s reputation and brand are in play in this social media world just like equities on the NYSE and NASDAQ and they are going downward to the right. Sometimes you reach a point when the reputation damage is permanent. Oregon is not there…yet.

The public needs to see University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere, Athletic Director Rob Mullens and Coach Kelly together on the same stage. Oregon should not be hasty in making them available, but the appearance should be sooner-as-opposed to later. They should be well prepared including “hot box” sessions with very difficult questions posed in preparation. Kelly in particular needs to be coached (coaching the Coach?) to drop the smart-aleck one-liners and to provide complete answers to these questions. This is not a sideline interview with Erin Andrews.

If the truth is that Oregon paid Lyles to deliver Seastrunk and/or James or others, the university should own up to it. Don’t even think about following in the failed cover-up footsteps of Anthony Weiner, John Edwards or Arnold Schwarzenegger…the truth will win out.

If the truth is Oregon behaved properly but has an Autzen Stadium-sized perception problem, the Big Three should calmly and carefully walk the reporters, editors, and bloggers through their side of the story. We really have not heard Oregon’s side of the story, just Nixonian blanket statements that the department has not done anything wrong.

No one wants the media to drive the story and set the agenda. That may be true, but in this case the blood is already in the water and the hungry sharks are circling. There is nothing else really happening in college football in July and this is a big story.

And it is made bigger by blogging, podcasting, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the literally the millions of computers tied together by zillions of miles of fiber-optic cable.

As Mike Riley, the head coach of Oregon’s rival about 40 miles up the road from Eugene said recently about the loss of control in this new world of social media:

“I tell our players all the time, ‘As soon as you start going down the wrong track and you start doing something wrong, the clock starts ticking until the day you are caught, because it’s going to happen’…”In our world today, you think it’s not going to be found out eventually?” Oregon State Football Coach Mike Riley

Coach Riley’s words don’t just apply to football players.



The World Is Their Oyster

Is a university campus the ultimate “start-up?”

Does this mean that Irish playwright, dramatist and Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw swung and missed when he coined the clever and oft-repeated, “Youth is wasted on the young?”

One of the reasons that I made the decision north of life’s Mason-Dixon Line to leave the foreclosure and traffic madness of Silicon Valley for a college town in Oregon’s Willamette Valley pertains directly to quality of life. Another revolves around the young attitudes of the majority of people around me.

In the corporate world, it is populated by a cadre of middle-aged complainers/whiners who can’t believe that their lives turned out the way that they did. Worse, they don’t have time anymore to start over. And they will tell anyone their plight, who cares to listen.

These people have baggage, and in most cases it is not a carry on. For many, their marriages are a distant memory. Their trapped in an underwater house and the bank has no interest in providing them with a loan modification. They may have been laid off and the economy has been downright cruel. Gas prices are heading toward or exceeding $4 a gallon. The commute (if they have one is at least 45 minutes one way). Their job, let alone their life, is not what they anticipated 20 years ago. I just can’t stop humming Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days.”

In a college town, such as Eugene, another set of lyrics comes to mind, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” by Fleetwood Mac. Students are dreaming about their futures. What do they want to do? How will they change the world? The tyranny of FICA has not yet completely made its presence known.

This point was made evident this past week when I was grading a series of three-and-four minute student multimedia (e.g. video, audio, still photography, graphics) autobiographies. Even though I had a template for grading these projects, I pretty much cast it aside. Instead, I was looking for quality in how they told their stories and made my grading decisions in how well they presented their futures compared to their student colleagues.

I was floored by the one woman who told the story of how her mom was on meth amphetamines and her father, heroin. She doesn’t understand why her parents have turned their respective lives over to these dangerous addictions. She is not following their footsteps, but she still loves them for being her parents. She is dedicated to making something out of her life. Some would say the deck is stacked against her, but she is not buying any of that and neither am I.

Another hearing disabled student, has learned how to interpret sounds and to speak with some difficulty. Nonetheless, she is going to become a story-teller. She has already overcome much in her life, so what’s another challenge?

One African-American student absolutely blew me away with the quality of his website. He wants to be a blogger for a major publication, such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times or the Washington Post. And at the same time, he wants to be a rapper. Blogging, rapping, blogging, rapping…Go for it.

An émigré (or the daughter of émigrés) from the Czech Republic told the story of how she has been stereotyped as just another pretty blonde. She has a very active brain under those golden trusses and a remarkable ability when it comes to audio, video and layout presentations. She already has the talent to work for a major corporation in telling multi-media stories.

Not only going back to college, but also going back to a campus environment has changed my life. Anybody who has known me for a few nanoseconds or more knows that I have faced more than my fair share of adversity. As the Germans would say macht nichts. I am stronger for the experience and I am surrounded by people who are excited about the future, so why shouldn’t I too be excited about the future?

Whether these students, regardless of their story and their backgrounds, make most of their opportunities is still to be seen. Some have already faced steep hills with a sneer of their faces. The challenges of this 21st Century world are great. They will take them on with an infectious enthusiasm. More power to you brothers and sisters. And thank you for being such as inspiration to the follicly challenged TA sitting near the front of the lecture hall.’t_Stop_(Fleetwood_Mac_song)

Less is More

Wish more PR practitioners would follow this incredibly simple adage.

Couldn’t help but to be impressed by a Twitter post from Austin’s celebrated SXSW  by Eugene, Oregon PR pro Kelli Matthews. She wrote that the key to pitching with PowerPoint is 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30-point font minimum. Yep.

This is so friggin’ simple, but for so many it is so incredibly difficult. The main reason is that it requires discipline, a discipline that so many of us do not have.

Why is this important? The reason is the audience, in particular, your target audience. They are real, breathing, living human beings. They are here on this planet for just so long. Their attention span for what you have to present and advocate is just so long. They have been sitting in the same seat for just so long. The call of nature is coming. Their minds are starting to wonder. They are starting to text. Fumbling through their programs. And there you are, droning on. They are physically present but not mentally present. A good performer knows when it is time to leave the stage…and you are still talking.

When USA Today with its short, easy-to-read-and-comprehend stories was founded by Al Neuharth way back in 1982, the Fourth Estate elite immediately attacked it as “Journalism Lite.” To them, USA Today was less filling and didn’t taste great. What was great were cerebral 70-inch New York Times stories that included multiple jumps. Hope you have the time.

But that is the problem, people don’t have the time (except maybe for Sundays) to spread out the paper. Instead, we are a society on the move. We only have so much personal bandwidth.

Without knowing it, USA Today with its no-jump stories served as a forerunner to Facebook with its quick micro blogs or 140-character Twitter or the crawl at the bottom of the screen on CNBC, ESPN, Fox, CNN etc. We only have so much time, please give me my information now…and spare the details. I want to know what time it is, not how to build a clock.

Once as a trade association rep, I put out a RFP to four PR firms asking for them to pitch their services. The only catch was that I asked for the Ronald Reagan two-pager. That’s right, I wanted their pitch in two pages to see how they could crystalize their thinkng. “But what about our 70-page portfolio?” You would have thought that I was asking them to choose between burning at the stake or drowning. All four gathered themselves, responded with their two pagers, and one was selected. This can be done.

And yet, I would sit around later in my career at PR agency planning sessions where editing constituted adding slides to a presentation. Wait! We have 58 slides right now, and you want to add six more? About what? “Living in Color?” Our commitment to being swell people? How long is our meeting? What? An hour and 20 minutes and we have 64 slides…

Our rule of thumb at LSI Logic was two minutes per slide. If the event organizer was asking for 40 minutes of presentation by our CEO or one of our executives and 20 minutes of questions, well do the math. That would be 20 slides. If we were required to edit, then we would employ zero-based budgeting; if we add one, then one has to come out. And we were mindful about how much information was contained in each slide. A fire-hose approach does not work with PowerPoint.

And speaking of presentations, you need to get off to a good start with points that have the audience nodding in agreement with a speaker who projects with real enthusiasm and energy. Nothing bores an audience quicker than someone who stands behind a podium reading the text in a monotone voice. Instead strap on the lavaliere mike, walk around the stage, engage the audience, use the graphics as prompts (don’t read the graphics; the audience can do that for themselves).

And remember that most humans do not want to be lectured to. They want information and they want the opportunity to question authority. They want to engage in a conversation. Develop your message. Figure out how long it will take, really take, to deliver your core message. Think of it this way, say what you need to say not what you want to say. And then go out and say it.

And maybe you can do it in 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30-point type at a minimum. Deliver your message. Take questions. And then exit stage right to applause ringing in your ears.

Editor’s Note: I am proud to serve as Kelli Matthews’ teaching assistant for “Principles of PR”again this spring at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. I am also pleased to be one of her nearly 5,000 Twitter disciples.!/kmatthews

Gladys Kravitz: “Why would anyone wanna bang against a wall?”

Abner Kravitz: “Simple. It feels so good when you stop.”

Can’t tell you how many times I have heard that particular exchange, especially on the rubber-chicken circuit. Was really surprised to learn that the line originated from the 1960s sitcom “Bewitched” with Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York being repeatedly snooped upon by nosy Gladys and her husband, Abner, played by Alice Pearce and George Tobias respectively.

My purpose here is to not once again reveal my age (the program ran on ABC from 1964-1972) or to take a walk down memory lane, but to touch upon my recent connection with a four-letter “F”-word, one that has an “a” for the first vowel and rhymes with amber ale. Let’s face it, when it came to finding a follow-up job when my P&L (profit and loss statement) collapsed at Edelman Public Relations, well I F’d…Yep, I F’d big time.

The fact that many others were in the same boat (pardon the tired cliché) really doesn’t make it any better. Misery may love company, but you were still miserable…To top it off, you make those around you miserable as well.

I was literally pounding my head against the wall and quite frankly it didn’t feel very good. In one case, I interviewed with a company 17 times only to receive in the end a terse two-line, kiss-off e-mail from a staffer in the HR Department. What’s ironic is that this company, which will go nameless, was chosen by Fortune Magazine as one of the top 10 places to work. Really?

Twice I was the first runner-up to the crown only to be humming Burt Parks music in the back of my head as the flash bulbs fluttered for my competition. Can relate to Jennifer Flowers when she uttered, “Close, but no cigar” recounting the difference in her relationship with a former president compared to Monica Lewinsky.

My pursuit was even the subject of a MarketWatch story earlier this year and while the publicity was good, the result was still the same…that is until I stopped banging my head against the same wall. What did Albert Einstein say about the definition of insanity? “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Instead of continuing my uphill battle in the face of a bleak job market as a white, Anglo male just north of the half-century mark, I made a life changing decision and in doing so, embarked on doing something I wanted to do as opposed to something someone else wanted me to do.

The decision was to sell my Bay Area house in a very difficult real estate market, transfer my equity to a lower-priced region, buy a house outright, drive down my cost structure, commute three miles each way and pursue my master’s degree in “Communication and Society” at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

Before I go any further, I realize that not everyone can follow-in-my-footsteps, nor would they necessarily want to. Many have family commitments; spouses with jobs; children in school; no desire to ever see an academic setting ever again; or in many cases their place of residence is under water. This latter scenario is just way too common and incredibly sad.

At the same time, student enrollment at Oregon is at a record high of 23,389 or about 1,000 over last year with a freshmen retention rate of 85 percent. No doubt the unprecedented success of the football team playing in the BCS National Championship Game on January 10 is a factor (everyone loves a winner), but the economy weighs in here in a big way as well.

If the economy has decided to take two or three years off, then maybe we should do the same. Why not use this time to improve ourselves, mentally and physically? Read the best and the brightest. Learn a new language. Get in the best shape of your life. Teach the next generation. Help others. Use some of this absorbed knowledge. Be a better person.

Gee, I hope that I can do that.

Very few things drive me as crazy as elitist reporters interviewing elitist reporters. Sorry you are not the news and you don’t even remotely qualify as genuine news makers.

So how do I feel about the undeniable trend toward open warfare between not only media organizations, but even some of their more recognizable personalities? Is it real? Is it just a game to sell (the few remaining) newspapers, win the November sweeps, or gain readership or viewership?

And more to the point: Is this just another sign of the loss of civility in our society?

Probably all of the above.

A vivid example was the open declaration of war by Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart on CNBC about a year ago that is still a hit on YouTube. Stewart with the subtlety of a rattlesnake charged that the financial news network was in bed with the Wall Street deal makers, short sellers, at the expense of hard-working Americans taking a long-term investing approach with their 401Ks and IRAs. The confrontation came down to an explicative-filled face-to-face encounter between Stewart and “Mad Money” Jim Cramer in which Cramer was blown up by Stewart’s road-side bombs.–3

Please don’t tell me that Stewart is just a comedian. Sure.  I am still mystified as to why Cramer accepted Comedy Central’s invitation to an Iraq or Vietnam-style ambush. General Custer had a better chance against Sitting Bull at Little Big Horn.

A more contemporary example is the open sparring between MSNBC on the left and Fox News on the right. The titular heads of these networks are Keith Olbermann of MSNBC (suspended for two days for violating NBC’s policy for making campaign contributions to Democrats…all of two days) and Bill O’Reilly at Fox.

Scoring at home was Stu Bykofsky of the Philadelphia Daily News who stated categorically: “To some extent, each outlet is a partisan noise machine with a narrow view of the landscape. The other cable news outlets are either not nakedly partisan or too small to be considered. It is total war between MSNBC and Fox.”

Bykofsky offered the following conclusion about the guest lists for the two hosts and their respective shows during the week before the election:  “The O’Reilly Factor” welcomed 20 guests from the right, 11 from the left and seven who were neutral. Left and neutral voices combined almost equaled those from the right.

“Countdown with Keith Olbermann” had 20 guests from the left, two neutral and not a single voice (Bykofsky’s emphasis) from the right. Zero voices of dissent.”

Having said that, there is plenty of dissent coming O’Reilly’s way in the form of…you guessed it a columnist from a major publication, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post.

O’Reilly took issue by a post-election night column by Milbank that complained that “Fair and Balanced” Fox featured only one liberal to comment when the returns were pouring in last Tuesday, pollster Douglas Schoen. To be fair and balanced, there were other liberal commentators on Fox that night.

“Does Sharia law say we can behead Dana Milbank?” O’ Reilly asked in reaction to Milbank’s column, “That was a joke.”

Milbank, who wasted little time reminding his readers that he was both an “American and a Jew” (Why not invoke the specter of the Holocaust?) responded by writing: “Hilarious! Decapitation jokes just slay me, and this one had all the more hilarity because the topic of journalist beheadings brings to mind my late friend and colleague Danny Pearl, who replaced me in the Wall Street Journal’s London bureau and later was murdered in Pakistan by people who thought Sharia justified it.”

Taking full advantage of his ability to offer the last word on this matter (at least for now), Milbank wrote: “Let’s drop the thuggish tactics – before more people get hurt.”

Here’s another thought: Why don’t we just chill a little and contemplate the words “decency,” “integrity” “civility” and “respect.”

“We are all liberals. Right?”

And the second question was: “Are there any in here, who are not liberals?”

While you are at it, why don’t you ask if the turds in the punchbowl would kindly raise their hands?

This line of question brings with it visions of the Great Leader, Kim Il Sung, asking if there are any present who are not members of the Korean Worker’s Party. “Oh, you’re not?”… (Sounds of bullets being fired). “Good we are now all members of the glorious Korean Worker’s Party.”

I raise last night’s questions posed on one of America’s finest college campuses, not because I am shocked…but because the presumption was being made that just because we are students, particularly in the “liberal” arts field of Journalism, therefore we must be liberal or should I say “progressive?”

The timing of the questions is really curious because the nation is poised to make a major rightward shift next Tuesday; the question is not one of “if,” but more of “to what extent?” Will the Republicans win just one house of Congress or both houses? There is little doubt they will also reverse next week a small deficit in governorships to actually take the lead, maybe even a commanding one, and they may also flip several state Legislature’s in the process as the most recent issue of The Economist predicted.

One of my favorite quotes was uttered by warm-and-fuzzy General George S. Patton who stated: “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” We glorify, particularly in Silicon Valley, the phrase “thinking out of the box” to the point that it is almost cliché. The question I am asking today is do American universities really foster an environment for out-of-box thinking or the oft-recited and less-followed, “marketplace of ideas?”

In case you are wondering, I am philosophically a smidge to the right. I worked for a Republican Governor, George Deukmejian of California, for eight years. My political orientation is secular, not religious, conservatism.

My biggest concerns are twofold: 1.) The explosion of deficits at all layers of government mainly because of too much spending (The federal government is running a cumulative deficit of $13.6 trillion or 94 percent of GDP, rising to $16.3 trillion or 101 percent of GDP in 2012 and 2.) That someone, anyone, will be forced to once again choose between being incinerated by jet-fuel heated up to 2,000-degrees Fahrenheit or jump to her or his death.

One of my responsibilities as Governor Deukmejian’s press secretary was to present his positions and policies accurately and completely to the media, leading to a well-informed public. Along with that task was to clearly understand not only the administration’s point of view, but our critics as well. Some call it “opposition research.” I call it appreciating where the other side was coming from to better retort their contentions. Occasionally that even required picking up the phone and calling a legislator’s office, talking to their staff or even the member, to make sure that I understood the proper context of their comments.

Believe it or not, there are reporters out there that will hype a comment hoping in turn to elicit a more provocative response than what would be normally the case from your side of the debate. A good public urination war is always a good thing in selling newspapers or producing higher Nielsen ratings.

The bottom line is being exposed to all points of view, even if it requires listening to both Sean Hannity and Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow and Ann Coulter. Think of it this way, if you don’t learn anything well at least it may be entertaining…even though you may be grinding your teeth in the process.

The Rise of Malcontent CPOS

Just found out that I personify a new acronym.

Yep, I am a card-carrying member of the “CPOS” club or “cell-phone onlys” that is confounding political pollsters and most likely telemarketers as well.

On top of that, I am also a dedicated member of the-why-do-I-need-a-daily-newspaper-dropped-at-my-doorstep-by-some-sleep-deprived-dude-driving-around-burning-fossil-fuels-before-the-birds-wake-up-in-a-derelict-car club. The publishers of daily newspapers don’t want to hear this, but the Internet is just fine. Ditto for HDTV with Fox News, CNN, CNBC, ESPN, ESPN2, Comcast…I have more than my fair share of information, quite frankly more than my brain can accommodate in a give nanosecond.

The existence of CPOS was the subject of an Economist piece that reported that cell-phone onlys were not adequately represented in surveys conducted by political pollsters, casting doubt on the validity of their results.

“The immediate problem is the rapid growth in the number of people who have only a mobile phone, and are thus excluded from surveys conducted by landline (how primitive),” The Economist reported. “About a quarter of Americans are now ‘cellphone onlys’ (CPOS) in the industry jargon and this poses both practical and statistical difficulties.”

Namely, we are less likely to answer our phones (yep, voice mail, caller ID and vibrating phones are good things), less likely to participate in surveys (check) and we often retain our telephone numbers when we move from state-to-state making it harder to know where we actually reside. And the problem that pollsters and telemarketers have with this scenario is exactly what?

Bringing a small grin to my face is the knowledge that automated services (“robocalls”) are prohibited from calling mobile phones by law, and so pollsters (and by extension telemarketers and non-profits) have to hire real people to call people with cell phones at an additional expense. Or pollsters could just not call CPOS, figure that these malcontents are 10 percent of the sample and “rinse” the results to compensate for our presence.

The Economist said that CPOS are “younger, less white, and poorer than the average American. They are also more likely to vote Democratic.” Gee, that really describes me to a tee.

Unmentioned by the Economist is that the recession has prompted literally millions of Americans to question some of their expenses. Why do we need a landline when we are already shelling out for a cell phone, and we may even have family members on our plan…resulting in additional lines? Personally, I am already paying for three cell phones. Why do I need a landline?

The same is true for a daily newspaper. That may sound contrary to the natural whims of a news junkie, who is competing for a master’s degree in Journalism. The bottom line is that I was waking up each morning, grabbing the paper, throwing it on the counter, heading to the computer, checking my e-mails, looking at the stock ticker, scanning the overnight box scores and heading off to work.

And when I came back in the evening? There was the newspaper, now a day old. And who was getting the most benefit? My alley cat, Percy. Guess, I don’t need to tell you how much he appreciated the classified section.

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