Third Party Technique

Smoking in "Avatar": Necessary to "Reflect Reality"?

James Cameron's new blockbuster movie Avatar won a "black lung" rating for gratuitous smoking from the Web site, which rates motion pictures according to the amount of smoking they show. Avatar is a futuristic fantasy that takes place sometime in the 22nd century. In it, Sigourney Weaver plays an environmental scientist who puffs on cigarettes as she tries to save the moon Pandora.


Five Questions, Five Doses of Spin

The Lansing State Journal is the latest in a long line of media outlets to provide a pro-nuclear platform to former Greenpeace activist turned corporate PR consultant, Patrick Moore, without disclosing his consultancy with the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI).


Making War Spin McChrystal Clear

General Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. military and NATO commander in Afghanistan, wants to change strategic communications goals there from a "struggle for the 'hearts and minds' of the Afghan population to one of giving them 'trust and confidence'" in their government and their future. He also wants to focus on exposing insurgents' "flagrant contravention of the principles of the Koran," which is already a talking point for U.S.


Increasing Scrutiny for Online Marketing

The National Advertising Review Council (NARC), a "coalition of advertising organizations" that recommends standards for industry self-regulation, issued its first rulings dealing with blog promotions. NARC faulted two companies for "posting 'reviews' of dietary supplements, but not disclosing that they actually own the products," or that the reviewers were paid.


Pentagon Propaganda Gets a Pass

Is there a difference between covert propaganda and secretive campaigns to shape public opinion on controversial issues? The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) apparently thinks that there is.

The GAO recently ruled that the Pentagon pundit program did not break the law against taxpayer-funded domestic propaganda. The program involved some 75 retired military officers who serve as frequent media commentators. From 2002 to 2008, the Pentagon set up meetings between the pundits and high-level Department of Defense (DOD) officials. The Pentagon's PR staff not only gave the pundits talking points, but helped them draft opinion columns and gave them feedback on their media appearances. The Pentagon also paid for the pundits to travel overseas, following carefully-scripted itineraries designed to highlight successes in Iraq and humane measures at the Guantanamo Bay detention center.


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