NPR notes that "times could hardly be better at the Fox News Channel, the cable channel liberals love to hate. ... Ratings estimates from Nielsen Media Research indicate audience levels are up significantly -- to extremely high levels for cable news -- making Fox News among the highest rated of all basic cable channels.
After it was revealed that the floundering American International Group (AIG) had hired Burson Marsteller (B-M) as one of its PR advisers, Rachel Maddow, the host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC, wondered who else the firm had worked for. After a scathing review of their past clients -- including the Argentinean military dictatorship, Philip Morris, and Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu -- Maddow concluded that "when evil needs public relations, evil has Burson-Marsteller on speed dial.” In response, B-M CEO Mark Penn wrote an internal email to staff claiming that Maddow "significantly mischaracterized the nature of the firm's past." In the email, which was leaked to PR Week, Penn wrote that "we are and should be proud of the work we do. ... While we can't spend our time responding to every attack that comes our way over the internet or cable television, I do think it is important that I reach out to each of you to let you know that we have a good story to tell about the work we do."
A four-year study of more than 1,200 youngsters performed by the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that children whose parents let them watch R-rated movies are more likely to smoke. Participants were in sixth grade when they started the study, and researchers interviewed them a total of eleven times over the course of the study. They were asked questions about the availability of cigarettes in their home, whether smoking was allowed in their home and whether their parents let them watch R-rated movies and videos.
Sixteen years after founding the Center for Media and Democracy and our publication PR Watch, I'm moving on this June to new challenges. The search for my replacement began last week, and we hope that by summer CMD will have a new executive director. I believe that CMD needs a high-energy executive director especially skilled at taking us to our next level of success. At age 56 I want a less demanding life with more personal time.
"Over the past five years, the money the [U.S.] military spends on winning hearts and minds at home and abroad has grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion this year," reports the Associated Press. "That's almost as much as it spent on body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2006. ...
The Chinese government has pledged 45 billion yuan (nearly $6.6 billion) for media that target foreign audiences, "in an aggressive global drive to improve the country's image internationally." The Xinhua News Agency wants to use the funding to "expand its overseas bureaus from about 100 to 186," nearly enough to have a bureau in every country.
When television stations take the "'quick and dirty' route to health news coverage" by airing sponsored videos produced by public relations firms or other companies, it's a real problem, writes journalism professor Gary Schwitzer. For example, Ivanhoe Broadcast News (which was mentioned in the Center for Media and Democracy's "Fake TV News" report) puts out "single source stories with one spokesman from one institution touting one idea," complete with PR contacts.