Monday, May 29, 2006

"I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"

The Independent | Bush 'planted fake news stories on American TV'
Federal authorities are actively investigating dozens of American television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news. Some of the fake news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies' products.

...faux news broadcasts, known as Video News Releases (VNRs)...
This has been common practice for going on at least thirty years, which is about how long ago I found my own informational pamphlet -- oh, all right, "press release" -- for the SCA published verbatim in a local newspaper. (My only regret was that I hadn't put my name on it.)

Frankly, I've been ignoring this story for the last week or two, astounded that any responsible news organization has the nerve to present this "scoop" with a straight face. Press and media relations, corporate and governmental, are based on the reality that if you release a publication-ready story, many publications will use it. That's the point.

77 television stations over ten months? Hell, everyone does it. Every television station, every radio station. Every television and radio network. Every newspaper, every magazine. And every outlet that's been reporting this story with the wide-eyed innocence of Casablanca's Captain Renault. It's a real and expected part of where your news comes from.

Should you know about this? Certainly, yes. Should you be concerned? Occasionally. Should you be surprised? Not if you've actually been paying attention to the news and "news" you consume.

I'm much more concerned that the Centre for Media and Democracy is attempting to play it as a "conspiracy".

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Why now?

When noted political analyst Natalie Maines recently took back her apology for having insulted the President in London in 2003, I found myself doing my best imitation of Alec Guinness in Star Wars: Now that's a name I've not heard in a long time. A long time.

I was content for that to be so, though not particularly concerned. I'd assumed she'd retired. I wondered what the occasion was for her return to the public eye. Had poverty forced her to return to work? Had she just escaped from a political prison? Was she looking for her shadow? (And would it mean six more weeks of American Idol if she saw it?)

The next day, I had my answer. You may not realize it, as she is not one to brag, but in the lean times between political analyses, Ms Maines is a musician of sorts. She and her friends had an album to promote, and the no-respect-for-the-President demographic was her target audience. As one of her friends said:
I'd rather have a small following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith. We don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do.
What a nice way of saying We have enough money, thanks. At least the poor girls won't be forced to appear naked anymore.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Which way?

Did you know that, in Atlanta, if you head southbound on Northside Drive, you'll go through West End on your way to East Point?

Northbound, of course, will take you to West Paces Ferry and South Cobb Drive.

North Avenue, on the other hand, is a puzzle: You can't go north on North, only east and west. East Avenue also runs east-west, but it's south of North.

So, you see, we're in deep trouble even without 37 Peachtree streets.