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No Strings Attached

Despite finishing second in the annual Sydney to Hobart blue-water racing classic, the yacht named after communications giant AAPT outperformed most of its rivals in the PR stakes.

While big racing boats such as AAPT fly with the wind they also burn bucketloads of cash. Which is why the big boats need big sponsors. Corporate sponsors look to the bottom line and expect a return on investment that is primarily measured on the amount of media coverage they garner.

Thanks for the (False) Memories: the 2004 Falsies Awards

This year marks the beginning of a new tradition for the Center for Media and Democracy. To remember the people and players responsible for polluting our information environment, we are issuing a new year-end prize that we call the "Falsies Awards." The top ten finalists will each receive a million bucks worth of free coupons, a lifetime supply of non-fattening ice cream, an expenses-paid vacation in Fallujah, and our promise to respect them in the morning. The winners of the Falsies Awards for 2004 are:

1. I'm Karen Ryan, reporting

Karen RyanLet's hear it for video news releases finally getting a smattering of the public scrutiny they deserve. A video news release or VNR is a simulated TV news story. Video clips paid for by corporations, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations are commonly passed off as legitimate news segments on local newscasts throughout the United States. VNRs are designed to be indistinguishable from traditional TV news and are often aired without the original producers and sponsors being identified and sometimes without any local editing.

Thanks for the Advice

Some 114 people responded to our recent survey asking for comments about the recent design of our sister website, the Disinfopedia. Here's what they had to say:

89.5% said they had used the Disinfopedia to look up information; 22.8% had added information to it themselves.

The response to the new design was mostly favorable, with respondents giving it an average rating of 3.9 on a scale of 1 to 5.

Feeding Cows to Cows, One Year Later

An alarming, but not surprising, investigation in today's Vancouver Sun illustrates why the mad cow feed rules in both Canada and the US are completely inadequate.

The paper reports that "secret tests on cattle feed conducted by a federal agency earlier this year found more than half contained animal parts not listed in the ingredients, according to internal documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun. The test results raise questions about whether rules banning the feeding of cattle remains to other cattle -- the primary way in which mad cow disease is spread -- are being routinely violated. ... Controlled experiments have shown an animal needs to consume as little as one milligram -- about the size of a grain of sand -- of material contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to develop the brain-wasting disease."

Mo' Better News?

Wikipedia, the successful open source encyclopedia, is launching a daily news website called Wikinews. Its goal is to "create a diverse environment where citizen journalists can independently report the news on a wide variety of current events." Will it succeed? I think it's got some problems, but also potential.

Congresspedia Review: Last Week in Congress (Nov. 10–16, 2007)

This week in Congress saw the showdown over the 2008 Budget come to a head and the reemergence of a partisan feud over Iraq War funding.

President Bush followed through on his threat to veto the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill last week, and though the margin was short, the House was unable to approve an override. Bush has promised vetoes for some of the other spending bills, so the future of the budget process remains uncertain.