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Posts Tagged ‘The Washington Post’

Air Force Stops ‘Aiming High,’ Omits ‘So Help Me God’ from Oath

080528-F-2319R-005Prayer and the American military have gone together like bread and butter for as long as we can remember, but the United States Air Force has now apparently decided to count its blessings — because it doesn’t really need them anymore.

According to the Washington Post, the Air Force will now allow airmen to omit “so help me God” from enlistment oaths. 

The catalyst for this decision was an airman stationed in Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nev., who was denied re-enlistment because he purposely omitted that sacrosanct phrase when taking said oath.

He (along with the American Humanist Association) chose to raise a stink, and two weeks later we have this:

“We take any instance in which Airmen report concerns regarding religious freedom seriously,” Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said in the statement. “We are making the appropriate adjustments to ensure our Airmen’s rights are protected.

“The Air Force will be updating the instructions for both enlisted and commissioned Airmen to reflect these changes in the coming weeks, but the policy change is effective now. Airmen who choose to omit the words ‘So help me God’ from enlistment and officer appointment oaths may do so.”

This isn’t much of a surprise, but the Air Force should certainly prepare for blowback.

Sure, it’s haughty at the very least to think there are only Christians in this world or that everyone must profess faith in a Christian God (or any god, really) to serve his or her country. But will this decision lead to a slippery slope on which other airmen seek a pass from swearing to protect other things that go against their personal beliefs?

Time will tell — and so will more than a few Christian bloggers.

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Will You Be Pitching to Ezra Klein’s Vox?

It’s a worthy question, because despite former Washington Post writer Ezra Klein’s wonky history reporting on economics, his new venture Vox promises to cover “Politics, public policy, world affairs, pop culture, science, business, food, sports, and everything else that matters.”

This promo video also serves as a look into the current state of reporting. When was the last time you saw a trailer for a news organization?

Klein’s challenge is to convince the public to pay attention to factual stories that don’t contain the latest form of visual distraction. As the founder himself puts it, he’s betting the bank that readers will eat their media veggies as long as the material isn’t presented in such an unappealing “this is good for you but we guarantee you will hate it” way.

We’re very interested in seeing where Vox goes with this concept, but for now the launch is a nice reminder of the inherent challenge of getting people to click and, referring to the “understand the news” tagline, truly absorb informative content.

Surely you understand.

House GOP Sends Reps a ‘How to Discuss Unemployment’ Doc

The debate over whether or not to extend unemployment benefits, which recently expired for more than a million Americans who can’t find work, promises to provide the public with its next extremely annoying political “battle”—and our two parties have already begun practicing their counter-arguments.

Yesterday Robert Costa of The Washington Post acquired a doc distributed by House Republican Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers to all members of that august body advising them on how to discuss the matter at hand.

Seems that “unemployed people are just lazy, OBV“, while popular with a certain core voter base, doesn’t play so well with the public at large. Who knew?

fullmemo

Nothing terribly surprising in here.

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Redskins PR Chief Yanks Mic from Reporter’s Hands

Let's talk media relations strategy...

Let’s talk media relations strategy…

Got your attention yet? OK. Today brings us a very weird report from the world of sports PR in which the National Football League‘s most embattled team demonstrates some…unconventional ways of dealing with the media.

For context, the Washington Redskins fired manager Mike Shanahan yesterday, because a 3-13 record does not inspire one to perform the traditional “Gatorade dump” victory dance.

Here are some of the (very) lowlights from Washington Post sports scribe Kent Babb‘s excellent report on the event:

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Fox PR Team Plays Auto-Reply Tag with The Washington Post

#NotImpressedHere’s how much we care

This story isn’t particularly revealing, but it is amusing, so here goes

WaPo writer Erik Wemple tried to email Irena Briganti, SVP of media relations at Fox News, with an interview request.

Wemple immediately received an auto-reply instructing him to contact Dana Klinghoffer or Carly Shanahan, two other top names on the Fox PR team. He proceeded to email Klinghoffer, whose auto-reply told him to email Shanahan. Her auto-reply then recommended emailing….wait for it…Klinghoffer.

Oh haha, we get it: you don’t want anyone associated with your operation to talk to Erik Wemple.

All we’re saying is that there are other, more traditional ways to deny media requests. And Fox is all about maintaining traditions, right?

The New Yorker Editor David Remnick Comments on His Career, the Magazine’s Content and Cover Controversies

New Yorker Cover“While most magazines have their moments in the culture, The New Yorker has mattered a lot at various points in time,” said David Remnick, the magazine’s editor. New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute hosted a wide-ranging conversation with him on Tuesday evening.

Remnick shared his candid thoughts on his career, his editorial role, the magazine’s print and digital content and occasional controversies. While being The New Yorker editor is a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity, many takeaways from Remnick’s experiences about career timing, managing work relationships, having strong competitors and staying relevant apply across positions.

Below are selected highlights.

Early career: “There were things back then called paid internships”, Remnick emphasized, (in his only reference to the ongoing Conde Nast internship controversy). He got an internship at Newsday, and another at The Washington Post. He also taught English in Japan and served as WaPo’s foreign correspondent in Moscow, competing for stories with Bill Keller of The New York Times.

He attributes his eventual switch from newspapers to magazines to the waiting room at his father’s dental practice. He spent time there reading magazines while listening to rock music. “The New Yorker was hard to grasp beyond the cartoons when I was little, but I warmed to it.”

Being named editor : After Tina Brown left, Remnick, who had been working at The New Yorker, became editor. He said he got the job, even though he had no prior professional editorial experience, after Sy Newhouse’s initial choice was nixed. As Remnick recalled, “they really needed an editor in a hurry. But the geometry of my relationships with other editors changed, and that’s still complicated.”

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Fox News PR Team Planted Fake Story to Discredit Journalist

No, not you...

This week’s story about members of the Fox News PR team posting “sockpuppet” comments in threads on various blogs (like our sister site TVNewser) was big, but this one is far worse: NPR reporter David Folkenflik‘s new book “Murdoch’s World” reports that the team schemed to send a journalist a fake tip in order to discredit him.

Here’s the deal: as Folkenflik tells The Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple, the Fox PR team refuses to participate in any story that compares the channel to its competitors in tracking general cable news trends—they don’t even want to acknowledge the existence of CNN or MSNBC.

Crain’s New York Business reporter Matthew Flamm was trying to write a story about how CNN briefly beat Fox in the ratings game in February 2008 when he received this “tip” from an “inside source” at the network:

“FOX PR reps would never confirm this, at least not on the record. But [Bill] O’Reilly, not Brit Hume, will…anchor our texas and ohio primary coverage on Tuesday night. They want to copy the success that MSNBC has had with Olbermann and Matthews anchoring their coverage.”

It sounds like a big deal because, in order to confirm its “fair and balanced” status, Fox maintains a clear wall between “objective” reporters like Hume and opinionators like O’Reilly—and such a move would represent a breach of that wall.

But the story wasn’t true.

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The (False) Truth About Viral Content

KKJIspL

Quite a few of us saw this picture last week. Tens of thousands shared it, and many used it as inspiration for a blog post or op-ed. Depending on your political affiliation, it was either a perfect embodiment of the “childish” government shutdown or yet another example of “The Media” manipulating the narrative to make a predetermined point.

Or maybe it was neither. But since millions saw it and drew their own conclusions, does that even matter?

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Needs Some PR Assistance

Vladimir Putin‘s recent New York Times op-ed on Syria may have prompted some serious ethical debates, but it also led to a chorus of “Me too! Me too!” among other politicians looking to distribute their own foreign policy statements. Unfortunately for these followers, they now serve as case studies demonstrating why Putin pays top dollar for Ketchum‘s PR services.

The new, supposedly moderate Iranian president Hassan Rouhani placed an op-ed in The Washington Post urging the United States to pursue “constructive engagement” with his country while condemning the chemical weapons attacks that Iran supposedly helped happen—and he did it without PR assistance. His foreign minister also posted a Rosh Hashanah message earlier this month with the apparent goal of appeasing the Jewish community that predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad worked so hard to alienate by denying that the Holocaust ever happened.

This is progress, right? Not really.

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Amazon Flack’s Comment on How Often He Makes Comments: ‘No Comment’

Tucked away in this weekend’s nth “What Will Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Do with The Washington Post?” article lies a less-than-subtle hint at the company’s media relations strategy:

Ha ha. Jim Romenesko even asks “Does Amazon’s spokesperson have the world’s easiest job? (All he ever says is ‘no comment.’)”

We don’t know that we’d go that far, but it’s safe to say that Bezos and Co. follow the Bill Belichick “keep it boring” model to a T. And yes, Amazon spokesperson Drew Herdener does make liberal use of the phrase in question. Their company’s PR team has determined that it’s best to simply put up and shut up whenever possible.

Here are some other key quotes about Bezos, his management style and his approach to media relations:

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