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Posts Tagged ‘Brad Phillips’

Morning Chatter

THIS IS CNN: “Wolf! #NavyYardShooting” — HuffPost‘s Jennifer Bendery.

Spotted on the Acela…

“Morning shows apparently repositioning for Tuesday. CNNs Cuomo and CBSs Rose boarding Southbound Acela just now.” — TIME Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer.

NBC’s Chuck Todd: the messenger

“I know folks are relishing an opportunity to get out their hatred for media; I’m just trying to provide context for what we got wrong.” — NBC Political Director Chuck Todd.

Trying to piece together facts

“In the last 15 seconds on one radio i heard 9 dead…8 dead and 6 dead — are they not listening to each other?” — FNC’s Greta Van Susteren.

Words of media wisdom…

“It’s pretty clear at this point that nothing is ever learned from one royal breaking news f’ up to the next.” — Politico‘s Ben White.

“Know what? If you or I RT something, we endorse it. (Maybe not views themselves, but as accurate news.) Any disclaimer otherwise: bullshit.” — National Journal “The Hotline’s” Scott Bland.

“If the wrong person was named in today’s shooting, I hope he sues the news orgs and wins, a la Richard Jewell. Pathetic. #journalism.” — Brad Phillips, who writes the Mr. Media Training blog.

“Two things that never work out. Ever. 1.) Saying ‘Don’t you know who I am?’
2.) Rushing to be 1st with unverified facts. First is not best.” — Pittsburgh Tribune-Review‘s Salena Zito.

“It’s always conflicting law enforcement sources…” — BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith.

“So basically every piece of information that’s come out about the shooting so far today has been wrong.” — WCP‘s Aaron Weiner.

“Did we learn nothing from Sandy Hook and the Boston bombing? Stop reporting wild rumors like it’s fact.” — Washington Examiner‘s Steve Contorno.

“Here’s an idea. Rather than tweet out competing reports, perhaps we could wait a little bit and report out confirmed reports.” — Mo Elleithee, DNC Communications Director.

“Okay, turning off Twitter for now because developing news and social media don’t mix.” — J.P. Freire at 11:37 a.m. Monday.

Don’t miss more Morning Chatter…

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Political Blog Goes With ‘Vagina’ Headline

Political Wire’s Taegan Goddard, also a contributing writer for The Week, went with the eye-popping “vagina” headline this morning.

The headline: “Lawmaker Uses Vagina as Synonym for Woman.”

The brief post concerns a state lawmaker who used the word interchangeably for “woman” in an email to colleagues.

Asked if he had any hesitation about using the word “vagina” in a headline, Goddard told FishbowlDC…nothing! He never replied to the question. However, a Washington editor, when told he or she was being asked a serious question about vagina headlines, replied, “There are no serious questions about vaginas! Unless it’s ‘Do you have cancer in the vagina?’ The editor added, “I would try to avoid it in headline.”

Longtime producer to radio host Bill Press and FBDC Contributor Peter Ogburn remarked, “How do I feel about vagina headlines? I like to feel them as often as I can.”

The issue can be discussed in a mature manner. Brad Phillips, who writes the Mr. Media Training blog, says journalists shouldn’t shy away from using the v-word. “’Vagina’ describes a body part that roughly half of the world’s population has,” he wrote to FBDC. “Journalists shouldn’t stay away from using it just because some people (let’s face it, men) grew up snickering at the word in their seventh-grade locker rooms. But like almost everything else, context matters.”

He continued, “If the word is used as an accurate descriptor, it’s fine. If it’s used as a pejorative or as gratuitous linkbait, it’s probably not. Taegan’s headline strikes me as an accurate description of the story that followed—and I would have used the same one.”

He said words are just that – words. “We have to get past this juvenile idea that medically accepted words are somehow verboten. ‘Vagina,’ ‘penis,’ and ‘scrotum,’ for example, should be used when appropriate, reader reaction be damned,” he wrote.

BuzzFeed‘s Washington Bureau Chief John Stanton also did not bristle at the word as a headline choice. Read more

‘Poop’ Gets Flung Around Twitter

A Carnival Cruise ship that was stuck out at sea, unable to port for several days finally made it to land Thursday. A large portion of the TV news coverage of the story centered on the ship’s sewage problems.

It was an event all but designed for Twitter.

“If only CNN had smell-o-vision technology. We could smell the raw sewerage and their coverage in one blended smell.” –Twitter user Tarnatiger to media expert Brad Phillips

“UH-OH. Carnival CEO vows to board ship to apologize to passengers. I’m afraid he may have some feces hurled at him before he gets to speak.” –Author Eric Metaxas… He also said: “FoxNews is now interviewing a passenger about the disgusting bathroom situation. FUN FACT: Her surname is Colon. Sorry.”

“Suggested CNN CHYRON while interviewing passengers: ‘Trail of Smears.’” --BuzzFeed‘s Andrew Kaczynski

“Rather than continue complaining about some overflowing feces, perhaps Carnival Cruise passengers should just let it slide?” –New York Post‘s Robert George

A “poop deck” is the flat structure on a boat’s rear that serves as the roof of a cabin. Naturally, that became a thing.

“I’ll meet you on the poopdeck.” –NRO‘s Jonah Goldberg to one of his followers… He also said to NYP‘s George: “Now we all know what happens in the bowels of a cruise ship.”

“N. Korea explodes a nuke – CNN has no live coverage. The S.S. Poop Deck hits port – CNN is wall-to-wall.” –Chicago Sun-Times Managing Editor Craig Newman

The ship was dubbed “poop cruise.”

“If poop cruise ends with Gojira (yeah I spelt it that way jerks) ripping the ship open and eating the passengers, CNN will be vindicated.” –BuzzFeed D.C. Bureau Chief John Stanton (Gojira is the Japanese name for Godzilla)… He later added: “Flipped to MSNBC. Mistake! Poop cruise survivor told harrowing tale of how state rooms are EXACTLY like the Superdome post-Katrina.”

“You don’t have to watch it, but I don’t know why people are baffled by CNN’s wall-to-wall Poop Cruise coverage. People love this stuff.” –Bloomberg View‘s Josh Barro

“It’s after 1 a.m. and CNN is still interviewing poop cruise passengers live. Possibly Jeff Zucker is publicly hazing his employees?” –Avid tweeter NYC South Paw

“1st world modern day trauma=stuck on the poop cruise.” –WSJ‘s Neil King

On BuzzFeed, Boogers and Ethics

Writing a story about someone else’s booger feature is no easy task. On some email requests I put a simple, bland, “request for comment.” On others, I went for shock value: “BuzzFeed’s booger post.” It wasn’t plotted. I imagined some might find it funnier than others.

On Tuesday night, BuzzFeed‘s Benny Johnson took Washington’s political and media worlds by surprise by creating a GIF feature about House Speaker John Boehner allegedly checking out his boogers. BuzzFeed Political Editor McKay Coppins promoted the story, even guided readers to it on Twitter.

The headline reads: “John Boehner Looks at His Boogers During the State of the Union.”

Who among us would have the mental fortitude to look away from a Boehner booger post? “It looks like a first-step by BuzzFeed into honest coverage,” said former TWT Editor and Public Affairs exec Sam Dealey. “After all, everyone — the Speaker, the public and evidently BuzzFeed’s reporter too, was bored by the speech and looking for anything even remotely more interesting.”

Boogers are interesting. But by and large, the editors and journalists around town that we interviewed opposed the booger post. “Dumb and dumber; political coverage as booger op? What next: beaver shot?” asked Washingtonian‘s media writer Harry Jaffe. WTOP’s Jim Farley also expressed journalistic outrage. “I believe it is over the top,” he said. “It would have been like showing video of George H.W. Bush throwing up on the Japanese Prime Minister at a State Dinner. A private moment.  Would we show video of Michelle Obama’s skirt blowing up on a windy day?”

Um, there’s actual video showing Bush throwing up? As it turns out, there is.

And by the way, there’s no judgment here. We’ve written about everything from Larry King passing gas on air and a journo popping a zit at a party to females showing ample amounts of cleavage and breasts on TV. Suffice it say, BuzzFeed can write about the Speaker’s alleged boogers if they want to and there won’t be any ethical bitching from us.

And yet we couldn’t help but wonder, is this, in part, the psychological result of our miniscule attention spans and around-the-clock reporting? That we now require boogers to grab our collective attention?

“Poking fun at people in power has always been been part of political journalism,” Coppins told FishbowlDC when asked to comment on the matter. “Dead-tree newspapers used to do it with political cartoons; now the internet does it with GIFs and memes. What actually struck me most about this State of the Union was how many other news sites were competing with us on that front. A year ago, we would have been the only ones GIFing Marco Rubio’s reach for the water bottle; this year we were racing with The Atlantic‘s Twitter feed.”

But some journalists thought BuzzFeed had slipped beneath themselves. “That’s certainly a headline you don’t see every day,” said a longtime Washington editor who preferred to remain anonymous. “But regardless, this is over the line. A classic example of something that gets hits, but is in poor taste. The post appeals to the 10-year-old in all of us, and that’s not a good thing. BuzzFeed is better than this.”

A cable news insider agreed, saying, Read more

Media Expert Publishes ‘Bible’

Asked if Paula Broadwell or Jill Kelley could benefit from reading his new book, Brad Phillips said yes, sort of. “There’s an entire section about managing a media crisis,” he told FishbowlDC. But he said he had broader things in mind as opposed to just sex scandals.

After three years, Phillips, editor of the “MrMediaTraining” blog, has finished his first book: The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview.

He said the number 101 just sounded more compelling than 95. “It was easy to come up with a few more lessons to meet that number, since some ideas couldn’t be contained in just two pages,” he said.

Phillips calls his book a “Bible” so we put him to the test…

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Morning Chatter

Quotes of the Day

What Politico‘s Mike Allen calls the “best part of opening your door” at Aspen’s swank Hotel Jerome.” He’s attending the Aspen Ideas Festival. See Playbook here.

Important Q to Ponder: “Calling NoVa historians! Is it 1) Tyson’s Corner 2) Tysons Corner or 3) Tysons’ Corner? And who is Tyson(s)?” — Mr. Norah O’Donnell, i.e. Chef Geoff, husband to CBS’ Chief White House Correspondent.

D. Shuster takes to Storm Complaining

“Storm + 72 hours: still no Internet service in NW DC. Hey @Verizon, are you pulling a full PEPCO? Embarrassing. AT&T working fine.” — Current TV’s David Shuster.

Writer gets naked

“It’s Naked Time at Casa Blymire. Thermostat says it’s 85 degrees inside. #thisissooooooomebullshit” — Takoma Park, Md. freelancer Carol Blymire.

Weingarten lashes out at FBDC writer on Twitter

“I mean.  Sure I’m childish.  But, coming from a man with shit next to his name, it hardly stings.” — FBDC’s Peter Ogburn on being called “childish” and “lame” and an “asshole” by WaPo‘s Gene Weingarten. His insults came in after Ogburn wrote a review of his Sunday column on a plastic duck in which he suggested that the Pulitzer-Prize winning Weingarten might need to be placed in a home.

Blogger wants drugs

“Boo, I forgot to ask the dentist for good drugs today. Time to down some Nyquil.” — Conservative activist and blogger Lisa De Pasquale, who writes The Lotus Blog.

HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’ gains another critic

“So why is the pacing on #Newsroom so slow? It feels like each scene has been stretched to fill another few minutes.” — foreign policy reporter Laura Rozen.

Journo proud of NPR performance

“I’m on NPR. I don’t sound like a total moron. Phew!” — Brian Wolly, Digital Editor for Smithsonian.com.

Convo Between Two Media Types

Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell: “Can @andersoncooper give us his expert opinion on teabagging now?” Bozell links to this story about Cooper making a vulgar tea-bagging joke regarding Conservatives on an AC360 program in April. CNN’s Anderson Cooper came out of the closet Monday in a letter to The Daily Beast‘s Andrew Sullivan.

Brad Phillips, a.k.a Mr. Media Training: “Wow what a jerk.”

Vagina Journalism

There are a lot of loose lips on the subject of vaginas lately.

Last week two female Michigan State congresswomen were barred from speaking on the House floor after angrily using the word “vagina” while debating an anti-abortion bill.

Daily Show host and comedian Jon Stewart mocked the House’s decision a few nights ago, saying, “What are they worried about? Vaginas aren’t like Voldemort or Beetlejuice. Invoking the name ‘vagina’ doesn’t make them suddenly appear.” He then highlighted in a “moment of zen” a clip of one CNN anchor saying sarcastically, “Fair warning: I’m about to say a word some of you are going to find offensive. So here’s the warning. Here we go: Vagina.”

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell interviewed one of the congresswomen about an earlier protest that took place outside Michigan State Capitol, in which there was a live performance of the Vagina Monologues. During O’Donnell’s program, Metro Weekly‘s Chris Geidner tweeted, “If you don’t like vaginas, this is not your TV show.” – [O'Donnell], creating a false choice for me.”

Liberals also started the hashtag #sayvagina on Twitter. As with anything these days, particularly anything regarding vaginas, it was highjacked. “#Sayvagina but don’t say #8.2%JoblessRate,” wrote Breitbart.com Editor Dana Loesch.

Liberal radio show host Leslie Marshall tweeted, “#sayvagina I tell my toddlers to stop saying that in public! Grown women who are legislators? Go ahead!”

We asked a few journos around town what they thought about seeing so much vagina in the news lately and how they handle the subject in their own professional lives. HOH“s Neda Semnani told us it’s not weird at all. “That is what those crazy kids are calling that part of the body these days,” she told FBDC. “Other body parts with names that don’t make me feel awkward: penis, fallopian tube, uterus, urethra, testicle, balls, vulva, breast, boob, hair, nail, shin, pancreas, gland, cells, pinkie, big toe, follicle. Actually, scratch that… ‘Follicle’ sounds gross.”

A TV industry insider did some soul searching and remarked, “I hate the word ‘vagina.’ But not nearly as much as the dreaded P word. In everyday life I prefer to use C U Next Tuesday because it’s succinct and so offensive that it’s funny. In mixed company, I may opt for other humorous terms like ‘hatchet wound.’ But for TV, let’s all agree to stick with ‘vagina.’ That is, unless everyone can rally behind ‘pikachu’ or ‘tamagotchi.’”

A more serious Kevin Glass, managing editor of Townhall.com, said his publication has no official policy on the matter. “We don’t allow any words to be used in poor taste, but don’t censor our authors where it’s appropriate,” he said.

The Daily Caller‘s Taylor Bigler said she’s free when it comes to using the word. “‘Vagina’ is at the very bottom of the list of words that I’m squeamish about saying or using in copy,” she said. “It’s just a part of the body. I’m much more concerned about getting words like ‘douchebag’ and ‘Octomom porn’ past the editors.” Her boss, Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson, takes a far more conservative slant on the matter. “I approach that word as the ancient Israelites did YHWH: I have too much respect to use it lightly,” he said. On the subject of using the word on TV: “No.”

Host of XM Radio’s Press Pool Julie Mason told us she could say “vagina” loud and proud on the air if she wanted, but she tries playing it “mostly square.” She said, “My boss’s general rule is to imagine an eight-year old in the car listening to the show — don’t say things that might cause their parent to switch to [shock jock] Howard Stern as the sober alternative.”

Then there’s this from Bretibart NewsTony Lee, who by far had the most interesting personal policy on the matters. “I don’t use that term in person,” he said, “and given what I refer to it as would be too crude for print, I would write ‘female genitalia’ or ‘female genitals,’ which would be consistent with the the word choice in stories dealing with horrific ‘female genital’ mutilation.”

Author of the Mr. Media Training Blog Brad Phillips acknowledged how “absurd” it is “that if George Carlin were alive today, he’d need to expand his list of dirty words you can’t say on television to include ‘vagina.’” His personal advice on using “vagina” in media comes in the form of an introspective question: “Does it help them make their point, or does it serve as a distraction that prevents people from hearing their larger point?” He said the two state congresswomen used the word effectively, as “it drew national attention to an issue they were passionate about.”

Watch some vagina-talk clips after the jump…

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Editor Who Fired the Blogger Responds

The Chronicle of Higher Education Editor Liz McMillen, who fired blogger Naomi Schaefer Riley this week for a post concerning Black Studies, has responded to our questions. It would be easy to provide snappy reactions to some of her responses — and believe me, I’m tempted — but to be fair, we’ll let her words speak for themselves. If you have reactions you’d like us to consider publishing, send them to me at Betsy@mediabistro.com or to FishbowlDC@mediabistro.com. If you are late to this story and want a refresher on what happened, read here. You may also want to read Brad Phillips‘ take on how McMillen handled the controversy on his Mr. Media Training Blog here.

1. Why were there no proper standards in place to guide Naomi in what was acceptable and what was not? We do have guidelines in place for all of our bloggers. But this is the first time that any of our bloggers has written a post dismissing an entire discipline based on the titles of three in-progress dissertations and quick summaries. For any kind of opinion piece, that is intellectually sloppy and poorly argued.

2. Naomi took the steps you asked of her. She wrote the response to critics. Why then did you fire her? We asked Naomi to write a response to the criticisms. She again insisted that she did not have to read the dissertations to make a judgment of the field. In fact, she couldn’t have read the dissertations because they are not finished, but she could have offered something else, something stronger, to support her opinion.

3. Why did you cave to a group of strangers who are calling Naomi every disgusting name out there? We made our own judgment about Naomi’s post and determined that it and her response did not meet our editorial standards for opinion writing. The length and format of a piece do not negate the responsibility of the writer to offer informed opinion. Criticism of any discipline, including black studies, is legitimate as long as it’s not sloppy, overgeneralized, and badly argued.

4. Do you see your action at all being a disservice to all bloggers out there who are also not edited before they publish? Or perhaps do you see it as a teachable moment? Like many publications, we have added new blogs, some by our own reporters and some by outside contributors. It continues to be a learning experience.

An Editor’s Dangerous Mea Culpa

In a most unusual editor’s note on the Chronicle of Higher Education website last night, Editor Liz McMillen apologizes profusely for what turned out to be a controversial post written by now fired “Brainstorm” blogger, former WSJ editor and Harvard graduate Naomi Schaefer Riley. Like most anything that goes viral, Riley tells Poynter she didn’t see it coming. The topic: Riley asserted the reasons why she believes Black Studies ought to be eliminated.

And the crowd went wild. Racism. Prejudice. So much for brainstorming.

McMillen, meanwhile, all but embarrassingly opens a vein for readers. She writes, “We’ve heard you, we’ve taken to heart what you’ve said.” She goes on to say that they let Riley go and they will “review” their editorial practices.

“It’s obvious they caved to the pressure,” Riley told FishbowlDC this afternoon.

Were these so-called practices ever thought out or spelled out in the first place? Was Riley ever told what she could or couldn’t write? Or was the outcry of online observers — and there are a lot of them these days with loud, shrill, threatening voices — so great that McMillen collapsed under her own lack of direction and standards that were never conveyed to Riley in the first place?

Last Monday Riley posted her story. On Wednesday night she received an email and on Thursday a call from her editor asking her to respond to critics, which she did. Last Thursday her bosses at least found that acceptable as well as her post, which they did not remove. But by last night, just before McMillen threw herself and Riley to the pack of wolves, she had a conversation with McMillen during which she was fired.

“They claim I didn’t live up to standards, but I’d like to see where these standards are that I didn’t live up to,” Riley said, explaining that her bosses knew she had unconventional views. She thought that’s why they hired her. “I don’t really think the standards are being universally applied, let’s just say that.”

She also said that at any other publication she has ever worked, the behavior of her bosses would never fly.

Riley says she will undoubtedly continue writing. “I’m not some anti-intellectual we should get rid of college tomorrow [type], but I have made critiques,” she said. “This was not my full-time job, I will go on with my writing.”

Brad Phillips, who writes the Mr. Media Training Blog, points a damning finger at The Chronicle of Higher Education, calling it the “worst of both worlds.” He told FBDC, “Although I don’t agree with Naomi Schaefer Riley’s viewpoint, it appears that she’s the victim of an editor who buckled under public pressure. Just a few days ago, the blog’s editor was encouraging vigorous debate about Riley’s article; the editor did an about face when it became clear that her readers were upset. The Chronicle is now in the worst of two worlds – appearing to have stifled a voice with no specific rationale, while simultaneously selling their blog as ‘a range of intellectual and political views.’ The Chronicle of Higher Education looks to have lacked clear guidelines regarding appropriate content, and this incident is yet another reminder that blogs need to maintain clear guidelines for their writers.”

In her note to readers, McMillen talks about a “freedom” that Riley and other bloggers have in that their posts go unedited before they are published. “Ms. Riley’s post was not reviewed until after it published,” she wrote in the publication’s defense.

But it is her concluding line that is most grotesque to herself and the publication: “You told us we can do better, and we agree.”

Perhaps she should have thought about that before firing Riley, instead of after. In most newsrooms editors fiercely protect their reporters. Most editors don’t let strangers in the door and watch as the reporter gets bloodied. Maybe McMillen could be a real editor, hold strong and “improve” their ways instead of essentially letting a wild flash mob determine Riley’s fate.

Here’s to hoping all our editors have stronger backbones that that of Liz McMillen.

Note to readers: We reached out to McMillen through the Chronicle‘s publicist, Amy Alexander, for  comment on why she allowed a petition of strangers to determine the firing of their writer and why it appears there were no clear standards for bloggers in place. “Let me forward your request to Liz and have her get back to you. But that’s how we’re handling these requests at this time,” said Alexander. We’ve emailed her our questions and will report back when and if McMillen responds.

See our questions to McMillen after the jump…

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NBC’s Chuck Todd Trashes ‘Tidbit’ Journalism

On this morning’s MSNBC “The Daily Rundown” host Chuck Todd went after what he and his panel dubbed “tidbit” journalism. Their repugnance was high after yesterday’s Etch a Sketch remark from a top Mitt Romney campaign advisor that, they joked angrily, “went viral.”

Todd grumbled over the fact that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush endorsement of Romney was buried as the result of Romney’s own aide’s gaffe and the state of journalism today. “I’ve been torn and twisted about this story,” said Todd, clearly disturbed. “It is sort of striking how this cycle more than any other is nothing but the gaffe police.”

Todd noted that there is an “entire enterprise” built by the Republican wing of journalism such as Breitbart.com and also the Democratic arena such as ThinkProgress. “This is what they do, they look for the moment that they think they gotcha,” he said.

AP‘s Liz Sidoti, on the panel, jumped in with comparable disgust. “This is all about changing the environment in media and in politics and the nexus of the two,” she said. “It’s all about tidbit journalism, right? It’s all about the little bits that make their way onto YouTube or handhelds.”

Todd chimed in sarcastically, “And it goes VIRAL and it’s the moment.”

Sidota continued, “People lose sight of the other stuff that happened yesterday because everyone was so enamored by the gaffe machine and the gaffe police. I think it really actually is detrimental to political journalism in the long run.”

She blamed the media, political operatives and changes in the Internet. They agreed it’s a vicious cycle. “We could bash us, but we’re not victimless,” said Todd. “At the same time look at what Santorum and Newt did – they grabbed onto it and ran.”

We checked in with media experts to learn their long view of  “tidbit” journalism. “I don’t see why readers have to choose between fun and serious, narrative and informational,” said BuzzFeed Political Editor Ben Smith. “I don’t think readers want to choose one or the other.” Reuter’s media writer Jack Shafer agreed with Smith and remarked, “I reject the concept completely. There is no such thing as ‘tidbit journalism.’ One man’s smoked oyster is another man’s buffet.”

And WaPo media opinion blogger Erik Wemple also refused to join the anti-tidbit journo bandwagon: “If the argument is that the Etch a Sketch controversy somehow overshadowed the important news of Jeb Bush’s endorsement, then count me as a detractor,” he wrote by email. “Endorsements are boring, choreographed, and often void of impact. Etch a Sketch was funny and telling, especially considering how it aligned with a common critique of Mitt Romney. I haven’t done a full accounting of how all the news orgs have handled both stories, but this is a bout of media bashing that I wouldn’t join.”

MSNBC Political Analyst Michelle Bernard was the lone panelist who played devil’s advocate…

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