Thursday, April 21, 2005


Apr 23: added a couple more links

Sunday is Earth Day at Lake MacBoyle, up by the airport.

Start of the New Yorker's new series on global warming. If you get your news from "the media", please read this. There will likely be much that you do not know.

Somehow missed this fine Rhetorica post from January on how the media could stop Payola Punditry, if they wanted to. And from Tuesday:
Hellllooooooo? Knock, knock! Is there anyone at home out there in medialand? Right now--not later today, not tomorrow, not later this week--right now put someone on this task: Call every pundit in your employ and put this question to them: Who pays you, and what do they pay you for?-- please disclose everything. Fire anyone who refuses to answer...
Sorry, no. There isn't anyone at home.

Another great Paul Graham essay (via):
One of the most surprising things I discovered during my brief business career was the existence of the PR industry, lurking like a huge, quiet submarine beneath the news. Of the stories you read in traditional media that aren't about politics, crimes, or disasters, more than half probably come from PR firms.
...A good flatterer doesn't lie, but tells his victim selective truths
Insight provided by Christine Boese (blog) in Dan Gillmor's comments:
I can tell you that the PR machine feeds a great gaping yaw: the news hole. So long as the press stays in reaction mode, then the main concern, beyond all others, will be to do whatever it takes to feed that space.

So what's the problem? Staff cutbacks, everywhere. Staff cut to the bone. Why? Because the great gaping yaw can be filled so easily with PR material, and [owners motivated by short-term profit] understand a key element of the equation: viewers and readers cannot tell the difference...
Via Graham, an unforgettable look behind the "reporters taking dictation from PR" scenes in A Sell-Out's Tale. One gem:
[Another reporter] asked me if I would be writing about Volvo. I said I would.
* "What's your angle?"
* "I think I'm going to be writing about press trips in general."
* "An exposé?" she asked, sounding worried.
* "Sort of, I guess."
* "Don't ruin it for the rest of us," she said, without a trace of humor.
If you can't blurt out the truth, what business are you in?*

Excellent piece in The Union - Other Voices (aka guest) column,
A battle for your hearts and minds, by local resident John Morris who provides a lesson in "rhetoric literacy", analyzing the techniques being used by the participants in the recent battle over student health care/parental consent.

And, for those who like the idea of continuing and expanding this "debate":

From Poynter:
In a debate, one side listens only to find a counter-argument. In a conversation, there is give and take. A debate ends with a winner and a loser. A conversation can conclude with both sides learning, and a promise of more to come.
From Philosoraptor:
We know that the passions that are stirred up in aggressive and competitive discourse are very strong. We know, in particular, that these passions make admitting error particularly difficult. We know that admitting error is required for making progress and achieving agreement. Yet we continue to employ this aggressive, competitive model of discourse. We continue to employ a method that is virtually guaranteed not to achieve our goals.
We continue to debate when we should be inquiring.


Russ Steele said...

Anna: I read the link on the New Yorker Global Warming articles. "The end of the earth as we know it." The author is right. The earth is changing every day, earthqulakes, erosion, floods, eruptions, etc, it will never be as we have know it, it changed over night. It has been warming and cooling for over 400,000 years we have ice core records for. I will read the articles with some relish. How much distortion can we get in a three parter.


Anna said...

Russ, a question (besides the ones in my April 10 post's comments), which you can treat as hypothetical:

If you continue to argue publicly for the next decade (as you have for the last) that global warming a) doesn't exist or b) isn't important or c) isn't our doing - and the climate continues along the trajectory the climatologists see for it, i.e. it goes to hell, temperature-wise - will you stand up and say, publicly, "I was wrong, I was among the last to recognize what was going on, and I'm sorry"?

Here's a quote from NY Times many years back, that stuck with me:

"The climate system is an angry beast, and we are poking it with sticks."

It was in the context of possible shutdown of the North Atlantic Current:

"Columbia University geochemist Wally Broecker points out that there have been abrupt climate changes before, the result of previous 'nonlinear' eruptions. It is entirely possible, in Broecker's view, that incremental global warming will cause the main North Atlantic current to shut down and plunge Europe into a Siberian-style climate. Or maybe it won't. Broecker's point -- and Homer-Dixon's, too -- is simply that we don't know, but continue to act as though we do..."(*)