Good Job, Media! The 4 Best Articles We Read This Week

It’s been a while since we’ve done a roundup of the best articles that we’ve been reading. It’s not because we haven’t been reading great articles – on the contrary, the more a certain president lambasts the media, the more the media rises to the occasion – it’s mostly due to a certain amount of media fatigue. But we’re back and without further ado, here are the 4 best articles that we read this week:

PHEW! Did you hear that collective sigh of relief this morning? We sure did.

Today’s New York Times recap of 45’s failed health care reform bill is classic Grey Lady: Concise distillation of a complex issue, no sparkly prose or flowery language needed – just the facts, ma’am, with a couple of underhanded digs thrown in for good measure. Love it.

 

The term “National treasure” sure does get thrown out there a lot, and oftentimes the recipient is undeserving. But we’ll be damned if Rebecca Solnit isn’t a bona fide candidate for National Treasure. We’re lucky enough to be in the same city that Solnit calls home, and our local alternative paper, the SF Weekly, was nice enough to feature Ms. National Treasure on their cover. Read the excellent feature and see if you agree with us. And if you’re in SF, stop by the wonderful Green Arcade bookstore, owned and operated by yet another national treasure – Patrick Marks. There we go again, throwing that term out there!

Bonus props since this was editor/writer Pete Kane‘s first issue as the new Editor-in-Chief. Congrats, Pete!

 

 

Jia Tolentino‘s superb takedown of the perils of the “gig economy” is a fantastically written piece on a fantastically depressing sentiment that our country seems to praise: that of working oneself to death. Calling to mind the hilarious old “In Living Color” sketches where having one job was the pinnacle of laziness, the idea of hard-working Americans stringing together gig after gig to barely make a living should be the poster children for why our economy needs fixing, and not why the gig economy is “working.” Read the article while you’re waiting for your Lyft ride. It’ll make you think twice.

 

 

 

While it’s not an article but an NPR interview, the Fresh Air segment with writer/author Jane Mayer on the Mercer family is eye-opening and more than a little frightening. Hold on to your latte when you hear the story about the scientist that the Mercers are funding, a man who thinks that nuclear wars benefit humanity (!). It’s chilling stuff. The Mercers want to stay out of the limelight and it’s journalists like Mayer who are shining a needed spotlight onto who these people are and more importantly, what their motives are. You can run but you can’t hide from good journalism.

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How PR Pros Can Support Journalism In Trump Era

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In the new Trump era, it is more important than ever for PR professionals to support journalists and a free media.

As PR professionals, it’s in our self-interest to ensure that we have a free and democratic media. As U.S. citizens and members of this nation, it is in our self-interest to ensure that we have a free and democratic media.

Anti-media rhetoric is filling the mouths of talking heads – these so-called “surrogates,” many of whom are inexplicably and rather ironically paid by news outlets to spew rhetoric – and our very own president-elect. The public has grown increasingly hostile toward media. The media themselves don’t often help their cause. But don’t be fooled – the media is never more critical than during regimes like the president-elect’s.

Media absolutely must be held accountable when they make missteps and many of them treat ethics loose and fast. With a lack of training combined with the dangerously alarming speed that reporters must churn out non-fact checked articles, journalism itself has lost a lot of credibility. Despite that, it is not only unfair to malign all of media but detrimental to America’s health as a democracy to do so.

But this isn’t a post about the value of media – we don’t need to emphasize their importance. This is a call to arms to fellow PR professionals to ensure that we’re helping, not harming, the progress of this country. There are many things that PR professionals can do to contribute to a better media landscape, including:

Don’t work with dictators, liars, deceivers and corporations that do very bad things. It’s easy, just say no. You don’t need the business, it should be more important for you to sleep at night. Representing violators of human rights, dictators, oppressive government regimes and outright criminals is bad for business and bad for life. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

Educate your clients on why it’s important to be transparent and honest, and why it’s better business. The public values honesty. Brands that have made mistakes that they’ve owned up to have often been forgiven. It’s the brands that continue to lie and obfuscate who never regain the public’s trust.

Fact check your own statements and reports that clients provide to you. Yes, you work for your client, but you also have a set of ethics. If something doesn’t sound right, take the time to research something to make sure you’re not disseminating lies. 

Support journalists by not lying or deceiving them. Share positive articles and don’t normalize behavior like threatening to kick journalists out of news conferences because they’re doing their job.

Ensure that you’re promoting factual news and striking down propaganda and click-bait. Work to ensure that platforms like Facebook and Twitter not populate these fake news links, and debunk any false reports and articles that do arise. As PR pros, media monitoring is an integral part of our job. We see the news before many others, so make sure you’re not spreading unverified stories and let others be aware of ones that are.

Give back and provide pro bono resources for organizations. Like Meryl Streep implored, the Committee to Protect Journalists is one that deserves your support. The Center for Investigative Reporting has also been doing standout work. Pick your passion and go.

Above all, we need to work with journalists to make sure that all of our voices are heard – every citizen, not just those who pay the most money. As public relations professionals, our obligation is to the public, first and foremost. We have a civic duty to use our skills to disseminate stories that are honest, truthful and provide value to the public that we all serve as citizens of this great nation.

By Katy L.

The Must List: 5 Best Articles We Read This Week

This is not how we read these articles. This is how we wish we read these articles.
This is not how we read these articles. This is how we wish we read these articles.

We read. A lot! Sometimes we feel like 95% of PR is reading (the other 5% is weeping in a corner of a room). A lot of the articles we read are depressing (mostly because they’re about Donald Drumpf), some of them are funny and an even smaller handful are compelling and useful. So we’ve gathered those small handfuls for you, so that you don’t have to suffer like we do. Here are the five best articles that we read this week. Warning: it was a pretty slow news week.

Just [email protected]$%king Do It. #EqualPlayEqualPay

It's Time.
It’s Time.

OK, this isn’t actually an article, but a video clip from The Daily Show. But we loved it so much that we decided to subvert our own rules and include it in our roundup (and like we said, it was a slow news week!). As big fans of sports, women’s sports and equality, it’s pretty appalling to us that the #1 women’s soccer team in the world is still paid significantly less than their male counterparts. Three World Cups and four Olympic gold medals have still kept the U.S. Women’s National Team from being paid what they deserve, let alone what the U.S. Men’s National Team (World Cups: 0. Olympic gold medals: 0) makes. Like the video says, Just [email protected]#$king Do It.

When Ridesharing Becomes Political

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Uber is no stranger to politics, but in their battle in Austin, Texas, they may have crossed the line. Buzzfeed’s Caroline O’Donovan reports that Uber and Lyft have been texting their customers to vote for a proposition that would repeal a local ordinance requiring drivers to be fingerprinted as part of their background check.

The move is annoying Twitter users, but remains to be seen if their ire translates to votes against the Uber/Lyft-supported proposition. The lesson for Uber/Lyft (and other apps like it) is to not abuse your access to your customers’ data.

Is Tech Media To Blame for The Rise of Theranos?

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Tech reporter Nick Bilton raises an interesting question with his article on Theranos and its secret culprit: tech media. Much like Glenn Greenwald’s criticism of fellow media inadvertently propelling Drumpf into the Republican presidential candidacy, Bilton wonders if tech media, who have often been criticized for being too cozy of bedfellows with the companies that they report on, helped push Theranos to great heights without questioning the science behind the technology.

SFWeekly Sheds Light on SFPD’s Sexaul Assault Case Failure

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The beleaguered San Francisco Police Department, who had an officer accused of covering up another officer’s rape allegation, has a serious backlog of sexual assault kits waiting to be tested. The SF Weekly sheds light on the severity of the situation, and the trauma that it inflicts on rape survivors awaiting justice. Beyond the backlog, the entire process is in need of serious overhaul. The SF Weekly, and its friend across the Bay, the East Bay Express, have continually written excellent investigative articles exposing flawed processes and injustices like this, highlighting the importance of alt-weeklies.

An Oldie But A Goodie

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Alright, we’re cheating by including this article from 2015, but hey, Hamilton recently received record-breaking Tony nominations and a Pulitzer, so we think it’s still relevant. We only recently discovered this pseudo-oral history of the genesis of Hamilton from The New York Times, and we loved it. Now if we could just get someone to hook us up with Hamilton tickets…(c’mon, someone? Anyone? Dad?).

 

 

 

“Drawn Together” Brings 4 Bestselling Children’s Book Authors Together For Public School Libraries

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Did you know that California currently has no dedicated funding for its public school libraries? Without access to books and a safe, inviting place to read them, public school children are being left behind in the Golden State. Private citizens and nonprofit organizations like Access Books are forced to pull the state’s weight and do their part to help public school children.

On June 20, 2015 at 1pm at the Disney Concert Hall, one such fundraiser has been organized by “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” author and artist Jeff Kinney. The philanthropic Kinney has gathered 3 of his equally popular children’s book author friends – Dav Pilkey (“Captain Underpants”), Lincoln Peirce (“Big Nate”) and Stephan Pastis (“Timmy Failure”) – along with host Julie Bowen (ABC’s “Modern Family”) for a benefit fundraiser for Access Books.

Not only will parents and their children get to meet their favorite authors and cartoonists, they’ll also get to hear a panel presentation from the talented scribes, as well as participate in an audience Q&A. Fans can have books and posters autographed, all for one great cause.

100% of the ticket sales will go to rebuilding and revitalizing public school libraries in the LAUSD. Just one $35 ticket enables the purchase of 5-7 new books for one student.

Purchase a ticket to support public school libraries, or donate directly to Access Books.

Read why actress Julie Bowen is supporting “Drawn Together” and Access Books in Variety

Donate to Access Books and follow them on Twitter and Facebook