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Reich N.O.W.

It is commonly stated that Public Relations has drastically changed history and society. Nothing could be truer than in regards to the so called “revolution in the 1960s.  Public Relations was chiefly responsible for the both the genesis and the outcomes of the Civil Rights Movement and Feminist movements during the 1960s in the United States. For the Civil Rights movement in particular Public Relations strategy was an integral part in all aspects. There have always been advocates against white supremacy prior to the 1960s, however the advent of television and other forms of communication greatly expanded the reach and frequency of the messages for justice. For the first time the entire world was able to overtly see the abuse and mistreatment of non white/black people that wasn’t in the form of a newspaper or post card. Speeches, marches, protests and violence were all broadcasted in their raw form to millions.

Although the main PR message of the Feminist movement was to “liberate” women, it can certainly be argued that the movement itself was another counter PR campaign to piggy back on, distract, conflate and ultimately slow down the Civil Rights movement in an essential PR bailout plan for white America. Betty Friedan was a prominent figure in 1960s feminist movement and certainly used PR to garner support for the movement. During the time of the rise of NOW and the Feminist movement, the civil rights movement was also gaining momentum and prominence. Friedan’s book “ The Feminine Mystique” presented the idea that women were tired of being relegated to being domestic suburban beings and having to live in the shadow of their male counterparts. One could argue that the very idea of the feminist movement in the midst of the Civil Rights movement was a racist tactic by white women to shift the focus from ending white supremacy in the US to actually expanding white supremacy by giving the white female even more power and authority, thus doubling the household income of whites. The so called “ Leave it to Beaver” suburban lifestyle was being portrayed by N.O.W. and the media as being oppressive to women , all the while this “lifestyle” was essentially being denied to black and other non white people. The same group of people who were denying basic human rights to others,  caused lynchings, condoned murder, rape and war , were now using Public Relations to claim victimization, and demanded even more power to partake in the white supremacy power structure.

 

One of the main lessons that can be learned when analyzing the Civil Rights and Feminist movements is that those who have access and control of the media are ultimately going to have the most success.  Also, it is evidenced that conflating issues and piggybacking off of strong social movements can be a very effective public relations strategy. It is also interesting to note that the advancement of technology dramatically influenced both of these movements, as television became the main stage for both of these movements to play out.

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Pun Intended

As of late , there have been several instances in which prominent journalists have gotten severely reprimanded for allegedly misspeaking and subsequently offending a specific interest group.  Last week’s blog entry was in regards to the highly debated decision to suspend CNN Journalist Roland Martin for so-called homophobic Tweets. This past weekend , ESPN editor Anthony Federico  was promptly fired from ESPN for using “ chink in the armor” in the headline of an article about the current phenomenon of Knick’s star Jeremy Lin. There was an immediate and widespread outcry after the headline from sports fanatics and media outlets alike, and Federico was quickly canned for the supposed offensive slur.

In a seemingly desperate attempt to save face, and to perhaps have some sort of damage control , Federico took to his Twitter page and issued an apology and an explanation. Here is an excerpt:

“They would see that on the day of the incident I got a call from a friend – who happens to be homeless – and rushed to his aid. He was collapsed on the side of the road due to exposure and hunger. They would see how I picked him up and got him a hotel room and fed him. They would see I used my vacation time last year to volunteer in the orphanages of Haiti. They would see how I ‘adopted’ an elderly Alzheimer’s patient and visited him every week for a year. They would see that every winter I organize a coat drive for those less fortunate in New Haven. They would see how I raised $10,000 for a friend in need when his kids were born four months premature. “ – Anthony Federico, Twitter

Photo courtesy of the New York Post

I find a few things interesting about this incident and how it has played out. I find it interesting in comparison to the Roland Martin incident, there was little ambiguity or argument over the fact that Federico was being intentionally offensive, except from Federico himself of course. I do believe that this infraction might be a bit more blatant that the Roland Martin incident as well. I also believe that it was an interesting move on the part of Federico to use Twitter as an outlet to explain, at length, how he did not mean to offend anyone, and that it was an “honest mistake”. Giving a laundry list of good deeds ranging from organizing a coat drive for “those less fortunate” to “ volunteering in orphanages of Haiti”  seems a bit disingenuous to me and is the equivalent of a blatant bigot saying “ I’m not racist , one my best friends is ( blank).” It just doesn’t cut it and is a very specious defense.

When I first became aware of the incident, my initial reaction was “ wow, it’s about time”, as I always felt uneasy hearing the phrase used professionally , or otherwise, without a second thought. I always wondered how people were getting away with it in the first place. In a society where words are ultimately power, I believe this incident exposes how deeply offensive a lot of colloquial phrases and idioms have offensive connotations – whether directly or indirectly. At the very least it took jump on the bandwagon athlete of the week sensation to actually make the public think about it.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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