Friday, July 20, 2007

Slinging BS for money -- on the public tab

Back in the day I went to journalism school. To me, journalism really means one thing: newspapers and newspaper writing. In journalism school, the "news-editorial" wing was actually a minority of generally smarter, definitely scruffier, less physically attractive news junkies. Given the prevailing influence of television, many people prefer to be broadcast journalism majors. I happen to think our local broadcast journalists at KSPN do a great job. Morgan Rose went to the University of Missouri Journalism School, which I know to be the best in the country. Chris Nelson has been in the business for years and asks a lot of tough questions, and I have great respect for Gin Gridley and Bob Coldeen as well.

National broadcast journalism I find to be a disgrace. A steady media drumbeat of sensationalism, trivial celebrity fluff and a shocking lack of depth is what I see there. I pay it scant attention and put all my news energy into the New York Times and the Washington Post and other sources.

Even worse than broadcast news is public relations. Lots of journalism majors specialize in Public Relations, or as I call it, "Slinging Bullshit for a Living." These are the people who come up with euphemisms like "pre-owned" instead of used, or "collateral damage" instead of, we hit the wrong target and blew up a nursery school. I spent a weekend with one of my old journalism professors and he has been saying PR should be out of journalism schools, but lots of students sign up for PR, its lucrative, less controversial, more business friendly and somehow PR executives don't have a worse reputation than actual honest journalists, so it stays entrenched there. I find people who lie or put a shiny, fake coat of paint on reality appalling, so the whole business of PR doesn't sit well with me.

Today, the cash strapped government hired a PR firm for $15,000 or so a month. Here is the first piece of bullshit Holt Strategies slung in the CNMI's behalf:

Terry Holt of Holt Strategies said, “Too often the only time policymakers have heard about the CNMI, it's been in the context of the Jack Abramoff story. It is time to move on. Northern Mariana Islanders are American citizens and we share an important history, forged in the battle for the Pacific in World War II. And their place on the map makes them a significant national security asset. It's time people hear about some of these facts too.”

If someone paid me $15,000 a month, I'd think it was time to move on also. PR people are opinion whores, hence my unabashed revulsion at people like longtime CNMI PR guru Richard A. Pierce. They get paid to take a position, doesn't matter what it is, and then they promote that position. A lot of legal work happens to be the same by the way.

Holt notes D.C. folks "heard things in the context of Abramoff." Perhaps they did since it was the biggest lobbying scandal of the past twenty years. Type in Jack Abramoff on Google and see how many entries there are. He was convicted on felony accounts of bribing public officials. The CNMI paid him $11 million in taxpayer dollars. It's easy for you to move on at $15,000 per month. It's not so easy for the people kept down by Abramoff's bribes or outraged at the corrupt unfairness of what was done.

Next there is an irrelevant attempt at faux patriotism about the CNMI's role in WWII. "We share an important history with them." So does Gettysburg, so does Palau, so does Normandy, so do a lot of places. What does this have to do with anything going on now?

"They are a significant national security asset." The left wing wants to change our immigration because of past abuses and because our system now is immoral, not "revenge" as I've seen said eight million times. When Bush gets the opportunity and installs a Right Wing Supreme Court Justice to sodomize the Constitution, is it revenge or the normal politics of someone sticking in his guy to do his thing. Was this war revenge because Hussein tried to assassinate W's daddy. This Stayman guy wanted this changed before, Abramoff bribed Delay, he lost that round. Times change. if you read Zaldy's column today, Stayman wasn't alone. Security is why the Right Wing is seemingly going along with federalization. With troops entering Guam, the Feds want a little more say into who gets in over here.

There will be a lot more BS forthcoming at 15K a month. Be sure of it. If you want to improve the CNMI's image, send some of that money to Beautify CNMI. They have, and will, improve the CNMI's image infinitely more than the overpaid, unncessary and demonstrably ineffective lobbyist, or the equally unnecessary, unaffordable PR firm.


Jay Rizzle said...

Bravo to you Sir. I was so disappointed this morning to hear Harry Blalock remark of the boycott "what are they trying to prove"? He was equally dismissive yesterday when he made an announcement that free goods would be given to those who came in to one of the targets of the boycott.
It harkens back to those who ridiculed the bus boycott in Alabama initiated in response to the treatment of Rosa Parks. Economic protest is a non-violent vehicle of political expression. It invokes the core principles of democracy and capitalism, the very foundation of America. One need only scan Milton Friedman's FREEDOM TO CHOOSE to see that economic boycotts are one of the civilized ways of expressing political or social dissatisfaction.
My support and admiration goes out to those OFWs. Makibaka, Huwag Matakot!!!

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

I think the boycott is a brilliant idea. Good for them.

Jeff said...

Harry is in the chamber and has been a long time suppporter. I'm less impressed with the Chamber than Harry is, and while I can say no more, I know for a fact that one Chamber member will be blasting the Chamber publicly very soon.