Tag Archive: Wall Street Journal


“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” — US General George C. Patton (1885-1945)

“The Democrats in Jim Crow Alabama of 1952 would not register him (her Presbyterian minister father) to vote. The Republicans did.” — Former U.S. Secretary of State and present Stanford provost Condoleezza Rice

“I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.” — President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)

Some have suggested that we have never been so divided; some seem to be skipping over the Civil War.

Having made this necessary clarification, your author is reminded of a quote from an Auburn football fan about the annual Iron Bowl.

“In Alabama, it’s either ‘Roll Tide’ or ‘War Eagle,’ and once you choose, you are branded for life.”

‘You are either for me or you are against me.’ How many times have we heard that quote?

In reality, life is not that simple. It’s not always black and white. As citizens — not subjects — with free will, we don’t have “own” everything that goes along with political orthodoxy. In fact, we don’t need to forever embrace a particular political philosophy.

Having grown up in a Roman Catholic Democratic household in which John F. Kennedy was our family patron saint and Nixon’s first name was “damn,” it seemed that Almost DailyBrett would be relegated to lifelong subordination to the Democratic Party.

“It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low, and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the tax rates.” – President John F. Kennedy, Economic Club of New York, December 1962.

Kennedy’s quote and his strong military “quarantine” against Soviet missiles in Cuba, not the advocacy of a never-ending shutdown of the American economy serves as a perfect example of the difference between the Democratic party then and the Democratic party now.

No Lightening Bolt Out Of The Sky

“Democrats, when they’re feeling alarmed or mischievous, will often say that Ronald Reagan would not recognize the current Republican Party. I usually respond that John F. Kennedy would not recognize the current Democratic Party, and would never succeed in it.” – Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan

Ronald Reagan didn’t transform your author into a “Reagan Democrat,” but instead a “Reagan Republican.” The Gipper’s celebrated epiphany occurred in 1962. For your author it was 20 years later. With time, Almost DailyBrett has grown to be even more neo-liberal and libertarian.

Buy Low Sell High.

There is a 100 percent correlation with your author leaving the ranks of those an eternal vow of poverty (e.g., political press corps) and joining the ranks of the well-compensated “dark side” (e.g., public relations … press director for the Deukmejian Campaign Committee). As George C. Scott in “Patton” said, “I love it. I love it, so.”

As an aforementioned Catholic your author expected a lightening bolt to strike me out of the sky, falling off the horse on the road to Damascus, and voting for Reagan that first time. As James Brown celebrated, “I Feel Good, So Good … “

Becoming a proud Reagan/Deukmejian Republican does not mean, yours truly buys into each and every policy position on the right side of the aisle. To this very day, Almost DailyBrett can state ex-cathedra, he doesn’t like guns, never did, never will. Bad people with guns, even those playing violent video games, are not good things.

Assault weapons are the worst. George Deukmejian said he saw absolutely no reason why anyone needed an assault weapon. We banned assault weapons in California. The NRA went fruit cake. Almost DailyBrett as press secretary strenuously defended that position; and supports that stance now.

There is no reason to be … predictable.

Voted Against The Clinton Restoration

Four years your author voted against the specter of a Clinton Restoration in the White House. Some believe in their hearts today they cast a good vote on behalf of a now increasingly bitter Hillary. There was zero chance of your author making that choice.

At the same, Almost DailyBrett was deeply troubled by Donald Trump’s decided lack of Reagan/Deukmejian political discipline. There was never any doubt about the philosophical direction of Ronald Reagan and George Deukmejian. You could agree with them or not agree with them, but there was no doubt where they stood.

As Reagan said in his last Republican Convention speech in 1992: “Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts.”

Reagan and Deukmejian were eternal optimists, not utopian and decidedly not dystopian.

Your author did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016 (writing in former Speaker Paul Ryan), the first time since the 1980s not supporting the GOP nominee.

Fast forward, Donald Trump is not any more politically disciplined now compared to four years ago (see TMI on Hydroxychloroquine), another self-inflicted public relations damage control fire drill.

Having said that, there is the president’s record including tax and regulatory relief, standing up to China, strengthened border controls, strict constructionalist judicial nominees, increasing military preparedness and no new wars. And let’s not forget the Covid-19 response and the reopening of America’s economy.

Alas, the Democrats have settled on Joe Biden. Not being the hated Trump apparently is good enough for them. Deep down, they really want New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Democrats can’t get what they want. Republicans are getting what they need.

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1894529_1894528_1894518,00.html

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1894529_1894528_1894522,00.html

https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/library/convention/chome/nreagan.html

 

 

“Yes, most likely.” — Boeing President and CEO David L. Calhoun asked if one of his airline customers will go out of business

Three little devastating words.

What is one of the Golden Rules of Public Relations? Don’t answer hypotheticals.

“What happens if the sun slams into the earth?

You can think we would all fry and die and the markets would close early, but you have the right to keep your thoughts to yourself and to deliver a boring response to a reporter, anchor or correspondent.

Today’s Savannah Guthrie asked Calhoun if an airline (e.g., one of Boeing’s customer) could go under, and he uttered those three little words starting with “Yes.”

Guess what? The entire airline sector took a dive (pardon the poor Almost DailyBrett pun) as well as one of their chief suppliers … that would be … Boeing. The company’s PR department reportedly tried to “walk back” Calhoun’s gaffe, but as they say … ‘You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”

Almost DailyBrett must first ask: Why “Today”?  Why now?

Even before Covid-19 sell-off, the company was responsible for two Boeing 737 Max-8 failure airplane crashes. As a former shareholder, your author knows the airline passenger market is on its back. Boeing turned into a ‘sell.’ It’s still a ‘sell.’

What’s the “great” news to bestow to the aeronautics rocket scientists at Today. Considering that Boeing is the ultimate B2B (business-to-business) is Today’s audience, your audience? Wouldn’t CNBC, Fox Business, Wall Street Journal or even Aviation Week be more appropriate media for Boeing?

Your Mother Always Told You To Tell The Truth

So did Immanuel Kant.

A former Silicon Valley colleague made a valid point that Boeing boss Calhoun should be given credit for telling the truth, and nothing but the truth.

True, but Calhoun went too far. Questions about the financial health of each and everyone of Boeing’s airline customers should be left to the … carriers themselves.

What was the alternative (besides declining the Today interview request)? How about not responding to the question, simply acknowledge the interrogative, say you can’t speak for individual airlines and pivot the discussion back to Boeing. The technique is known as Acknowledge-Bridge-SOCO (Strategic Operating Communications Objective).

SOCO is the answer, which coincides with predetermined before the Today interview Boeing’s agenda, not the wishes of Mizz Guthrie.

As a former press secretary for former California Governor George Deukmejian, your author and our press office staff parried each and every hypothetical question. It was our rule. It was our political discipline.

Consider one of the many questions that we received about legislation pending in the state Legislature, and whether the governor would sign or veto a bill? Unless it was one of the rare cases in which the governor deliberately wanted to send a discouraging message in advance — the bill would be DOA — we implemented our sacrosanct rule about not responding to hypotheticals.

Reporters would often voice their displeasure, but our answer made sense … bills are often amended. They are shelved in committee. They fail on the floor of one or the other house. You can’t make a judgment on a bill if and until it reaches the governor in its final form.

In governance, it’s sound public policy to plan for the future — California 2010 project in 1987. The Golden State foresaw the equivalent of the population of the State of Illinois moving to California. That prediction turned out to be true.

Having said that, there is zero upside with thinking out loud in the on-the-record presence of a reporter. Unless you have the internal green light from your management to float a trial balloon, the practice of speculating about the future is inherently dangerous.

And if you do venture into the hypothetical minefield, mind your own knitting (one metaphor following another),

Calhoun’s greatest sin in the eyes of Almost DailyBrett was conjecturing out loud about the business future of one of Boeing’s customers. That’s the carrier’s prerogative and responsibility, not Boeing, the B2B supplier.

Boeing’s PR department deserves more than its fair share of blame for this gaffe. Today was a bad choice at the worst time possible.

Calhoun was not adequately media trained, particularly when it comes to never answering hypotheticals.

https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/coronavirus-pandemic-could-force-major-u-s-airline-out-business-n1205036

http://www.boeing.com/company/bios/david-l-calhoun.page

 

 

“The surest way to undermine the credibility of the White House press corps is to behave like the political opposition. Don’t give speeches from the White House briefing room.” — ABC White House correspondent Jonathan Karl on his CNN colleague Jim Acosta, “Front Row At The Trump Show”

“Political opposition”?

As in political opposition to President Trump and with it, the Republican Party?

How about … The Democratic National Committee, ACLU, NARAL, NOW, ADA, Planned Parenthood, Move On, … and on, and on … as tangible examples of political opposition?

If all of the above apply as political adversaries with prescribed agendas, what about opposition media?

Let’s ask: What’s the difference between opposition media and the NRA? Both are narrow special interests with defined agendas. The latter registers to lobby.

Almost DailyBrett has been outspoken in yearning for the return of professional, dispassionate and objective reporting of relevant news and information for the benefit of the American public … particularly in this time of crisis.

As measured by Gallup, The Edelman Trust Barometer and others, public esteem and corresponding trust in the media (e.g., White House press corps) without any doubt whatsoever has been plummeting.

If the credibility of the White House press corps has been undermined as Monsieur Karl suggests — and the Boys and Girls on the Bus are now the political opposition with a clear philosophical and policy agenda — shouldn’t they be required to register to lobby under the auspices of the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA)?

If the openly expressed goals of the vast majority of White House Press Corps and so many more in media citadels of New York, Washington DC, Atlanta … is the removal of President Trump from office and the thwarting of the Republican Senate Majority policy program, don’t these quests equate to lobbying executive and legislative branches of government?

Wouldn’t it not be sound public policy to require reporters, editors, correspondents, anchors — using their awesome communication powers to influence the electorate and change policy — to state for the public record what they have become … unregistered-to-date lobbyists with notepads and microphones?

“Hold On Mr. President!”

Almost DailyBrett can already hear the complaints about a “chilling effect” on our cherished First Amendment Right of Free Speech. Do other special interests sacrifice their constitutional rights (e.g., NPR) upon registering as lobbyists at the federal or state levels?

Why should today’s partisan media be held to a different standard? Don’t they believe in public accountability?

As a young press secretary, your author remembers venturing into the White House briefing room with Reagan deputy press secretary Larry Speakes at the podium. Helen Thomas (UPI), Leslie Stahl (CBS), Chris Wallace (NBC) and Sam Donaldson (ABC) were sitting in the first row.

In the history of the planet, never assembled was a better and more formidable group of skeptical Devil’s Advocates … but they were not opposition media.

They were tough (read Donaldson’s “Hold On Mr. President!”) but they were fair and did not resort to partisan grandstanding or pose hateful questions implying POTUS has “blood on his hands.”

Some may want to ask Almost DailyBrett whether the few conservative media outlets, such as Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, should be compelled to registered as lobbyists. Your author says ‘yes’ to the former and ‘no’ to the latter. The neoliberal Wall Street Journal editorial board offers its take on national policy and direction on its editorial pages … anyone can read them … but they do not lobby.

During the course of his lengthy career in communications stretching from cub reporter to tenure-track professor of public relations, Almost DailyBrett witnessed the sad transformation of media organizations from the responsible providers of news and information to crass disseminators of partisan vitriol to further divide the American public.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Your author doesn’t want to provide CNN’s Jim Acosta (referenced by Jonathan Karl in the quote above) any more attention.

Having said that, his demagogic behavior and obvious loathing of the president should serve as Exhibit A … as to how partisan media has mutated and why they should come clean … leaving absolutely no doubt about their partisan public policy agendas for the executive and legislative branches of government.

The Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) was approved for a reason. Opposition media should register just like any other special interest.

https://lobbyingdisclosure.house.gov/amended_lda_guide.html

https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/04/planned-parenthoods-ambassador-to-cbs-news/?

https://www.foxnews.com/media/president-trump-media-hostility-coronavirus-briefings

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/oppositional-journalism/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2020/03/29/america-loses-trust-in-media-at-the-worst-time/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2020/01/12/has-all-media-become-partisan-media/

“Richard Nixon came back from his loss to John F. Kennedy in 1960 and won the presidency in 1968. He will be the model for winning again.” – Mark Penn and Andrew Stein, Wall Street Journal op-ed

“You don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.” – Richard Nixon’s “last news conference” after losing the California governorship in 1962

Ready For Hillary 4.0 knows the history of The New Nixon 3.0.

For Nixon, 1968 was the charm.

If the American electorate missed its opportunity in 1960 (Nixon 1.0).

And California voters didn’t get it in 1962 (Nixon 2.0).

Perhaps America would appreciate the new and improved “Nixon’s The One” six years later?

After two crushing defeats, Richard Milhous Nixon (3.0) became POTUS #37.

Conversely, Hillary was “inevitable” in 2008 … until #44 Obama won.

And Hillary was “inevitable” in 2016 … until she lost to # 45 Trump.

And now she is gearing up for her third “inevitable” #46 campaign/election next year.

As some things change in the Democratic Party, others remain the same.

Don’t bet against Nancy as “Madam Speaker,” and “Madam Secretary” Hillary as the nominee.

Will we be treated to the inevitable Clinton Restoration four years later than originally planned?

Hillary Now More Than Ever

“True to her name, Mrs. Clinton will fight this out until the last dog dies. She won’t let a little thing like two stunning defeats stand in the way of her claim to the White House.” – Penn and Stein, November 11

 “Dear God, please, yes.” – Trump campaign advisor Kellyanne Conway

The massive public relations/marketing challenge facing Hillary’s 2020 campaign team will be how to repackage an inferior 2008 and 2016 product and offer her as new and fresh for the upcoming 2019-2020 presidential cycle?

Reminds one of the 2009 eye-brow raising Domino’s Pizza advertising campaign in which the company confessed to its crust “tasting like cardboard,” and its sauce “tasting like ketchup” and worst of all, Domino’s was selling an “imitation pizza.”

The company pivoted off this act of contrition and promised to do better … and more than survived.

Penn and Stein implied the Hillary First Lady years constituted Hillary 1.0. Her tenure as an ostensibly positioned moderate senator served as Hillary 2.0. Her progressive campaign in 2016 represented Hillary 3.0

And Hillary the 2020 “firebrand,” taking Trump by storm, will be Hillary 4.0.

The real question is not whether Hillary will run, but will Sturm und Drang Hillary be able to flip any red states, regardless of whether or not she reassembles the Obama coalition?

Following In Nixon’s Footsteps

Two years are a political lifetime.

The economy is strong, now. The country is at relative peace. Divided government usually translates into little chance of turbo partisan legislation ever getting through both houses, let alone to the president’s desk.

Impeachment? Hillary understands impeachment, and there is little, if no chance, that Trump will be convicted in the GOP expanded Senate.

Why bother?

What happens if the economy starts going south and the markets are no longer volatile, but instead are heading straight down? What about unforeseen exogenous events overseas, possibly requiring a U.S. military response? What about Donald Trump’s act wearing thin after all these years?

In 1968, there were zero torch-light parades demanding the return from exile for Richard Nixon.

Having said that, the Vietnam War and the popular revolt against this quagmire prompted #36 Lyndon Johnson to resign. The Democrats were a hot Chicago mess. There was an opening for the Old Nixon to become the New President Nixon.

Hillary is not a new, exciting commodity (e.g., second-place Beto), having lost not once, but twice. And yet, no one knows the exact political landscape one year from now, let alone on November 3, 2020.

Will Hillary successfully recalibrate her brand, persona and reputation to prompt Democrats and independents to once again back Hillary with new ingredients? If Nixon could be successfully repackaged even with his legendary paranoia, doesn’t that mean that Hillary could be The One for 2020?

Or maybe: “Hillary Now More Than Ever”?

https://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-will-run-again-1541963599

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/12/clinton-aide-2020-run-983684

https://twitter.com/hashtag/hillary2020?lang=en

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/10/24/hillary-2020-trump-better-hope-not/?utm_term=.a374f8034d09

https://www.inc.com/cynthia-than/dominos-admitted-their-pizza-tastes-like-cardboard-and-won-back-our-trust.html

“This is a dangerous moment for the life sciences industry that is increasingly vital to the U.S. economy.” — Lead Wall Street Journal editorial, Sept. 23, 2015

There are dirty-little secrets out there …

If one buys low and sells high, there is a resulting profit.

If demand is high and supply is low, prices rise … profits are likely.

And some forward-looking companies may take those profits and plow them right back into R&D (research and development), resulting technological breakthroughs may ensue, which may lead to more profits … and more R&D. Sounds like a plan to Almost DailyBrett.biotech

There are some who just don’t agree with buy low, sell high. There are some who are not enamored with supply and demand. In fact, they are declaring war on capitalistic “profiteering.”

The target du jour is bio-technology, the very folks who produce cures (e.g., Hepatitis C) and management regimes to control diseases (e.g., AIDS). One would think these biotech superstars, such as Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD), would be regarded as heroes. Alas, you would be wrong.

Certainly, there is a poster-child villain in this story.shkreli

His name is Martin Shkreli, the chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals, guilty of raising the price of parasite infection drug, Daraprim, by 4,000 percent. The 32-year-young hedge-fund manager beat a hasty retreat last week in the face of a chorus of cat calls. He is a walking-talking, first-rate public relations disaster.

Having made this point, should the entire life sciences industry, its scientists and patients, some in desperate need of breakthrough drugs, be punished for the sins of a hedge-fund manager and presumably a few others?

Here are a few more troubling price-control questions:

  • Will after-tax R&D expenditures of life sciences and by natural extension, technology companies, become the subject of regulatory-imposed quotas (e.g., no more than x percent of net income can be used for R&D)?
  • What impacts will these Washington D.C., or Sacramento-initiated command-and-control limitations have on finding cures for diseases or next generation killer apps? Will there be fewer newer drugs on the market? Will there be less “destructive” game-changing technologies?
  • Will other operating expenses on the income statement also be subject to governmental expenditure controls, such as SG&A (selling, general and administrative)? For example, will life sciences, software and/or hardware companies be restricted in how much they can spend to market a breakthrough product? What impacts will these restrictions, if they become reality, have on the fiscal health public relations and advertising agencies?
  • What happens to heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s patients and others facing potentially fatal diseases, if the political class imposes draconian controls on new drug development … pharmaceuticals that potentially could save their lives?

Guess life’s tough, right?

Steve Jobs Turning Over in His Grave?jobsmemorial

There are ballot initiatives circulating in California – the home of Silicon Valley technology and some big league life sciences companies – that would impose price controls on pharmaceuticals and limitations on after tax R&D, marketing and presumably other operating expenditures.

Do you think that once emboldened the political elites will stop at the income statements of life sciences companies? Or would they march onto the next battle: social, mobile and cloud companies in Silicon Valley and San Francisco?

Let’s see, the price for an Apple 6s smart phone is $849.99. There are no deals or discounts on Apple smart phones. Is that price too high? Are we all entitled to have a smart phone? Should price controls be imposed on Apple smart phones, tablets, watches, Macs, iPods …?

Whattyathink Tim Cook?

Looking at the income statement for Q3, Apple generated $49.6 billion on the top line (Is that too much?).

The company paid $3.79 billion in taxes (Is that too little?).

Apple devoted $2.03 billion for R&D and $3.56 billion for SG&A (Are these figures simply way too much for research and marketing respectively?).

The company also devoted $29.9 billion for COGS or the cost to make its breakthrough products. (Does Apple really need to spend that much? Your collectivist thoughts, Sacramento and/or Washington?)

Worse yet, Apple produced a profit of $10.67 billion. Is the company (and many others) guilty of “profiteering.”

These figures are reflections of not only extraordinary success, but engineering breakthroughs, entrepreneurial spirit, calculated gambles of consumer acceptance, and of course, the risk of failure.

The whole notion of venture capital is to spend private equity on ideas that may stick to the wall, but then they may also flop. An idea may be good, but too early for consumer acceptance (e.g., HDTV in the 1990s).

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One of the distinguishing characteristics of America, which makes it the land of opportunity, is calculated risk-taking of entrepreneurs. Ultimately, they have the super ideas that may lead to landmark products and with them literally tens of thousands of new jobs – not family wage jobs (whatever they are), but career path jobs.

Should we literally kill the goose that is laying golden eggs?

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-assault-on-drug-innovation-1442964103

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-biotech-rout-1443484644

http://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-vs-cancer-treatment-1443007218

https://gma.yahoo.com/company-lower-drug-price-critics-called-4-000-002025809–abc-news-health.html#

http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2015/07/21Apple-Reports-Record-Third-Quarter-Results.html

 

 

 

 

 

“Isn’t that kind of crazy? … Almost one in 20 bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2011-12 was in communications/journalism. Why? I have no idea. Probably not because of the hot job prospects.” – Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post

How analog can you be?

missouri

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of college students taking Communications, Journalism and related programs (e.g., public relations and advertising) has quadrupled from 1.2 percent in the 1970-71 academic year to 4.7 percent in the 2011-2012 academic year. That result even exceeds the percentage increase of students taking business, 13.7 in 1970-71 to 20 percent in 2011-12, and is headed in the other direction compared to those pursuing education degrees, 21 percent in 1970-71 to 5.9 percent three years ago. Yikes!

Mizz Rampell and others with similar sentiments must be wondering what is wrong with these journalism/communications students. Don’t they know that the Internet is killing legacy media (e.g., newspapers, magazines, radio and television)? For example, the Washington Post published Newsweek since the Earth cooled. The planet is still here, but Newsweek for all intents and purposes is long gone, hanging on in digital format.

Yes, I still have trouble sleeping at night.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is no more. The Rocky Mountain News is deceased. The Oregonian has been reduced to a tab. There is example-after-example of the destructive technological force of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. Right, Borders? Ready to say ‘goodbye,’ Barnes and Noble?

Even college newspapers are feeling the Internet pressure as the 137-year old Columbia Daily Spectator of Ivy League Columbia University will go from daily to weekly starting this coming fall.

The trend is unmistakable.

And yet more students are enrolling in professional J-Schools 

As an incoming tenure-track assistant professor at Central Washington University and an incorrigible optimist, your author of Almost DailyBrett salutes the students who defy conventional thinking. Their collective thoughts are not to the past or even the present, but focused squarely on the future.

According to the 11th edition of Public Relations Strategies and Tactics, the projections are for 3 billion Internet users worldwide in 2016, more than 40 percent of the world population. Almost 70 percent of the US population will use smartphones in just three years. We send and receive more than 6 billion text messages each day, and about 2.8 million emails are sent every second.

socialmedia1

These numbers are staggering and the pace is increasing.

Why are all of these people on the Internet? Why have 1.1 billion subscribed to Facebook (founded 10 years ago), making its audience the third largest ‘nation’ in the world?

Twitter has 500 million (2006), posting 340 million ‘tweets’ every day.

LinkedIn (2003) reportedly has 259 million members, using the social media site to network and establish ‘connections’ with hiring managers and sales leads. LinkedIn is the social media site of choice for executive recruiters.

All of these impressive stats point to a world in which the demand for breaking news and information has never been greater. The laws of supply and demand do not go away just because we have a relatively new disruptive technology. In fact, the demand exceeds the supply, particularly online…for now.

$5 billion for the Wall Street Journal? 

Rupert Murdoch may not be a hero in all Journalism schools, but he is nobody’s fool. Okay, he shouldn’t have purchased constantly declining Myspace for $580 million in 2005, but not every Rembrandt is a masterpiece.WSJ

In purchasing the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones, Murdoch acquired not only the largest newspaper on the planet, but more importantly the number one brand for news and information about global markets for growing investor classes. The WSJ has also proved that pay-for-online content works as more than 900,000 digitally subscribe to the Journal. We should also not lose sight of the acquisition by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos of the Washington Post for $250 million.

So newspapers are not dead overall, at least the big hitters. Newspapers with globally recognizable mastheads and reputable brands will always be in demand, more so in digital format as the years progress.

And just as important is the advent of digital news services. Ever heard of TMZ (The Thirty-Mile Zone)? Donald Sterling of the Los Angeles Clippers (Or should we say, formerly of the Los Angeles Clippers) knows all about TMZ. The digital news service broke the story of his racist tendencies and led to his downfall.

The names Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Mashable, Gawker, POLITICO, Drudge Report, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Daily Kos, Red State, Real Clear Politics, Silicon Valley Watcher may not be household names…yet. Some will succeed. Some will not. Having said that, they all have the mission to meet the insatiable demand for news and information around the world through the magic of binary code or the digital ones-and-zeroes.

digitalnewsservices

And just think they need editors, reporters and correspondents.

They need the information provided by public relations professionals.

They are an increasingly lucrative outlet for advertisements aimed at target audiences.

Maybe these students who are seeking degrees in journalism, public relations, advertising aren’t so crazy after all. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/rampage/wp/2014/04/25/over-the-past-40-years-fewer-english-majors-but-more-journalism- majors/?wpisrc=nl%5Feve

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/2013menu_tables.asp

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/in-defense-of-journalism-education/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/why-newspapers-are-toast/

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/media/story/2012-04-22/college-newspapers/54630566/1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LinkedIn

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myspace

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wall_Street_Journal

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/washington-post-closes-sale-to-amazon-founder-jeff-bezos/2013/10/01/fca3b16a-2acf-11e3-97a3-ff2758228523_story.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

woodwardbernstein

All reporters and editors should be treated equally. Right?

In theory, this egalitarian approach is the correct way to go.

As PR flacks increase their 3.6-1 ratio lead over the ever-dwindling number of media types, it makes sense to treat every remaining reporter/editor fairly and justly.

After all, every reporter and editor is always fair and just to your organization, your chief executive and your cause. Right?

And most of all, every media outlet is created equal. Right?

You know the answer to that particular question.

There are two undeniable truths as it applies to the flack/media divide; one is time-tested and the other is relatively new:

1.) The media always needs fresh news and information to thrive and in the majority of cases that manna from Heaven comes from the public relations industry. This uncomfortable media fact is compounded by the competitive need to be first and conversely by the aversion to being “scooped” or worse, “burned” on a story.

2.) The media “gate keepers” no longer make the rules for access to target audiences and therefore can’t exclusively set the agenda. The ones and zeroes of the binary code ended this dominance and put self-publishing tools in the hands of the PR story tellers, and the good ones are using them.

Even though the media is rapidly changing in a mostly kicking-and-screaming fashion, there is still this mostly true axiom: Both flacks and reporters/editors are antagonists. They need each other as the former is a source of news and information and the latter conveys this same news and information to target audiences.

It’s called earned media (public relations) as opposed to advertising (paid media).

This relationship for decades has been unbalanced with the media serving as the “gatekeepers,” vetting news and information, and essentially deciding what is transmitted to the public. And with this hegemony (and inevitably arrogance) comes the notion that the media sets the agenda for the conversation, resulting in the flack “story tellers” gnashing their collective teeth.

If a tree falls in the forest, and the New York Times chooses not to cover it, did it make any sound? Nope.

And what happens when the media agenda and the flack story telling collide? There is friction, anxiety and related unpleasantness.

The flack may be tempted to go “over the head” of the reporter and to complain to her or his editor. Can you think of a better way to do a huge favor for the reporter? Talk about a red badge of courage.

Or the flack may do something more sinister: Leak a juicy story to a reporter/editor competitor, causing a burning sensation. Of course, a PR person would never admit to such a dastardly deed, but I understand this happens from time-to-time.

Sometimes the selective disclosure of material information to one media organization as opposed to another is done on purpose, and the SEC will not impose fines. Heard frequently in the Silicon Valley is, “Let’s give this story to the Journal…” The flacks in question are referring to the Wall Street Journal.

Some may think that print is dead, and for the most part it is. Didn’t the rocket scientists at the New York Times that bought the Boston Globe for $1.1 billion two decades ago, just sell the same newspaper to the owner of the Boston Red Sox for $70 million? Talk about buying high and selling low.

Also consider that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos just purchased the Washington Post for $250 million and Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal for $5 billion six years ago. Both of these hombres are super smart, so you know they have no intention of eventually selling these rags for less than 10 cents on the dollar. They instead bought the mastheads, the brands and their respective print and more importantly, digital access points to the political/governmental community (Post) and the investor class (Journal).

WSJ

Therefore it makes sense for public relations professionals to “pre-brief” a supposedly dead media publication, the Journal. In fact, virtually everyone in Silicon Valley pre-briefs the Journal. What does that mean to reporters/editors of other publications? They don’t like it one little bit.

But what are they going to do about it?

About 10 years ago, I was toiling in the trenches as the head of corporate public relations for LSI Logic. We ran a $1 billion custom semiconductor fab (factory) in Gresham, Oregon, just immediately east of Portland. The big gorilla media for that market (at least at the time) was The Oregonian. We were good copy for the Oregonian.

LSI Logic entered into a nanotechnology development agreement with Massachusetts start-up Nantero. In turn, Nantero hired a New York PR firm to help put the firm on the map. The target publication was The New York Times and the heck with anyone else.

During a conference call with Nantero’s CEO on the line, I was asked by a Madison Avenue-type if we would help with the Gray Lady. Our answer was affirmative, but what about the beat reporter for The Oregonian.

“The Oregonian?…Who is the Oregonian?” the New York PR type contemptuously asked.

I reminded her that actual life existed due west of the Hudson River, and that my employer, LSI Logic, was not going to consciously “burn” the beat reporter for The Oregonian. We either brief both reporters with the same embargo or we don’t offer the story at all. She was shocked and appalled by my left-coast thinking.

We did it our way, which I am convinced to this day, was the right way.

Is the moral of this story that PR pros, despite the shifting landscape, should never play favorites with reporters/editors, thus setting up the possibility that someone else will be burned?

The answer is the practice will be…ah…practiced…but there are perils involved, particularly with local reporters who will be part of your daily life conceivably for years to come.

Do you want the benefit of the doubt, when you need the benefit of the doubt?

Caca happens.

And remember the profound words of Tip O’Neill: “All politics is local.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egalitarianism

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21583274-new-wave-press-barons-should-not-allow-newspapers-become-niche-products-keeping

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21583284-tycoons-keen-eye-bargain-are-buying-up-print-newspapers-chasing-paper-profits

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118589043953483378.html

http://www.nantero.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tip_O%27Neill

I didn’t give a particle about Hopalong Cassidy in 1976…

…and I really don’t care much about the fictional Old West shoot-em-up character now.

hopalong

My Journalism 101 assignment was laid out in a poorly mimeographed piece of parchment paper: Write a dreaded obit about the late-William Lawrence Boyd (1895-1972) and entice people to care about the star of more than 60 “Hoppy” films, who died with his boots on.

There was no passion, no emotion, just a piece of paper about someone who did not touch my life, and never would. I was also a college sophomore at the University of Southern California. The results of my “effort” were predictable as in predictably lousy.

As a result of this assignment and others, I earned a big fat and well-deserved “C” in the class. What was worse was the professor (who will go nameless to protect the guilty) pulled me aside and strongly suggested that I consider another career.

That was 35 years ago.

Fortunately, the next semester saved my major in Broadcasting Journalism and launched my career. I enrolled in Reporting Public Affairs with Joel Kotkin, who at the time had put his degree at UC Berkeley five years into his rear-view mirror and was the West Coast correspondent for the Washington Post.

kotkin

The year was now 1977, and there was a mayoral election in Los Angeles. Each student was assigned a candidate and a campaign. The candidates were the incumbent Tom Bradley, former California State Senator Alan Robbins and Howard Jarvis, who authored the landmark property tax-reduction initiative, Proposition 13, the following year. My assignment was to follow Robbins, who eventually lost the election and later spent a long time in a very bad place.

Robbins campaigned heavily on the Jewish West Side of Los Angeles and a young college kid followed him, and learned everything he could about his campaign. This particular USC student was a political animal and loved writing and reporting. Some were questioning Robbins’ Jewishness, prompting a heckler to yell out in a temple that “Alan Robbins is a goy.” Robbins snapped back, “Alan Robbins is not a goy.” This was full-contact politics on vivid display and I eagerly engulfed myself in this story.

I received an “A” in “Reporting Public Affairs” and my career was upwards to the right. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for Professor Kotkin, who is now a fellow at Chapman College, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and others, and the author of “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.”

The reason why I am tapping back into history now is that I have taken up the Kotkin role, not his encyclopedic command of American political, geographical and demographic trends (I am not worthy), but his dedication to teaching students…and in at least one particular case giving a student a much-needed second chance.

Today I am a graduate teaching fellow at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Hopefully in a year, I will be teaching strategic communications, social media, financial communications and media/analyst/employee relations to upper division students.

I need to keep in mind that a professor can cripple through her or his words the dreams of students. Suggesting out loud to someone who has the talent and skill sets to succeed in a given profession that they should look elsewhere is not helpful and may be even unethical. That’s exactly what happened to me.

Please don’t get me wrong. Tenured professors, associate professors, assistant professors, adjunct instructors and even lowly graduate teaching fellows are not there to be a buddy or a pal to college students. We are not there to be the university version of dandelion dads and marshmallow moms. The work world is hopefully over the horizon for these students and a boss or heaven forbid, a bosshole, can be worse, much worse than any professor.

Colleges and universities are the ultimate start-up. Students have dreams and aspirations. Not all classes are a perfect fit…certainly Journalism 101 with its lame Hopalong Cassidy obit exercise was not a good fit for me. Having said that, my lack of performance in that particular introductory class did not justify being told to choose another profession, such as selling insurance.

Words can be like daggers, particularly coming from a professor with an advanced degree or more. Sticks and stones may break my bones and words will never hurt me, which is true in most cases. At the same time, these ultra-critical words have major impact on impressionable young students trying to embark on a career path. Let’s offer constructive criticism where it is warranted, but more importantly let’s propel these students into the stratosphere so they can pursue their dreams and be everything they want to be.

http://www.hopalong.com/home.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Boyd_(actor)

http://www.joelkotkin.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joel_Kotkin

http://www.joelkotkin.com/content/004-biography

http://www.joincalifornia.com/candidate/5796

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.

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_Bernard_Shaw

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glory_Days_(song)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don’t_Stop_(Fleetwood_Mac_song)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Insurance_Contributions_Act_tax

“I will never say in private, what I wouldn’t say in public.” – John Madden

For the past 10,220 days (give or take about three months or so), the sun has risen every morning in the Golden State and likewise the moon has been seen in the heavens in the evening. The birds have chirped. The bees have buzzed. The waves continued to crash on the beaches. Life has gone on…without assistance from the State of California for public broadcasting.

My former boss for eight years California Governor George Deukmejian used his veto pen more than 2,300 times in his two terms. One of those times was the total “zeroing out” of California Public Broadcasting in 1983. The state was broke, about $1.5 billion in the red. On top of that, the governor did not philosophically believe that the government should be in the business of subsidizing media…because subsidies come with strings attached. Sorry, there are no free lunches in life.

220px-George_Deukmejian_Official_Portrait_crop

A news conference was held in Sacramento to announce $1 billion in vetoes in his very first fiscal blueprint that actually balanced that budget. Included in that amount was all of the funding for California Public Broadcasting. The radio reporter for the California Public Broadcasting covering the event opened the budget book, saw the veto, rose from his desk, and stormed out of the Room 1190 (news conference room in the State Capitol in Sacramento). We had a first-rate public relations fire storm on our hands…but it didn’t last long.

Periodically reporters would bring up this issue with us, most not agreeing in the slightest. We would remind them that California was out of money and how the governor believed in a church and state-style separation when it comes to the media and government.

Which brings us to the very emotional subject of NPR, which has Charlie Sheen-style public relations problems that only intensified this week. Liberals love NPR because NPR is liberal. Conservatives detest NPR because NPR is liberal…err…progressive (whatever). But should NPR, which is taking $400 million or 12 percent of its funding from the federal government, be so unbalanced?

Liberals will instantly scream, “Well what about Fox News?” Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and receives no federal funding. Want to yell about Rush Limbaugh? The answer is essentially the same.

The biggest public relations blunder made by NPR was to be seen as so far out of the mainstream. They were safe as long as the economy was decent and Democrats were calling the shots in DC, but as we all know things change in politics and they can change quickly. The economy cratered, the federal government is horrifically in the red, and there is a whole posse of red state, Tea Party Republicans, now running the House of Representatives. Americans through their actions time-and-time again have proven that they prefer divided government.

The first blow came last October with the clumsy firing of NPR correspondent Juan Williams (who appears regularly on *gasp* Fox News) saying out loud what many Americans think in the aftermath of 9/11; many are very aware that Muslims are among the passengers on plane flights they are taking.

juanwilliams

And just this week, NPR’s chief fundraiser Ron Schiller was secretly videotaped during a meeting with the Muslim Education Action Center. As Russell Adams of the Wall Street Journal pointed out nobody at NPR, including Schiller, vetted the Muslim Education Action Center. The group does not exist, but served as a front for the secret videotaping.

The result was that Schiller was silent as the two potential $5 million Muslim contributors complained about how other media outlets were controlled by “Zionists” while NPR was not (Does silence constitute agreement?). NPR’s chief fundraiser proceeded to declare that NPR does not need the $400 million in federal support, completely undermining NPR’s lobbying effort. He then completely trashed the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement, labeling them as white, gun-toting “racists”…Did Mr. Schiller not appreciate who is running the House of Representatives and holding the purse strings for NPR?

Specifically, the Washington Post reported that Schiller said in the video about the Tea Party movement:  “They believe in sort of white, middle America, gun-toting – it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.” He also said NPR “would be better off in the long run without federal funding,” a statement most Republicans agree with.

John Madden, who was a football commentator on four major networks for 29 years, said once: “I will never say in private, what I wouldn’t say in public.” That is the best defense possible in the case of an ambush video tape job. And you know this ambush video technique, whether we like it or not, is going to be used again-and-again with technology making possible smaller cameras and more sensitive microphones. Politics is a contact sport indeed.

The net result was that NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller “resigned” Wednesday and the NPR Board accepted her resignation with “regret.” Read: She was pushed out of the job. (She is not related to Ron).

Now the big question is whether the GOP majority in the house will push NPR’s $400 million appropriation out of the budget. If it does, NPR will survive someway, somehow on donations and corporate contributions. Alas, there will be no $5 million donation from the Muslim Education Action Center. And just like California, the sun will rise in the morning across the fruited plain.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/10/AR2011031002032.html?wpisrc=nl_pmheadline

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/09/AR2011030901802.html?wpisrc=nl_pmheadline

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704132204576190344232339766.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/03/09/push-to-defund-public-broadcasting-heats-up/

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/February-federal-budget-apf-1010393433.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=main&asset=&ccode=

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/10/21/juan-williams-npr-fired-truth-muslim-garb-airplane-oreilly-ellen-weiss-bush/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Sheen

http://www.meactrust.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Madden_(American_football)

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