Ooops Greenpeace!

Shell should have placed full page ads like this in the early days of the Let's Go! arctic campaign

This week I attended a public affairs conference entitled True Spin, held by the Walkleys/MEAA. There were conflicts, inconsistencies and knowledge gaps that struck me during the presentations at the conference, but one thing that consistently stood out was the consensus that Shell had badly dealt with Greepeace’s Let’s Go! arctic campaign. Disappointingly, while several presenters were happy to pile […]

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New ABC social media role an empty gesture

Why has the ABC’s appointment of a Social Media Reporter given me the irrits? It’s certainly nothing personal against the reporter herself, who’s shown admirable ingenuity, not to mention dexterity, in live-tweeting from doorstops and press conferences and then following up with radio news stories while regularly refreshing the content on her Facebook pages. If the ABC job was to report ON social media as well to USE it, then this journalist certainly would be the right person for the job. But the role is to report on politics. The award-winning radio journalist will be attached to the ABC’s existing radio news and current affairs team and will be “part of a range of measures designed to explore how social media can be used to enhance and extend the ABC’s coverage of national politics”. So in fact the ABC has appointed a new Political Reporter who will use radio and social media to file her stories. That’s not quite as sexy, is it? And perhaps this is the nub: I am irked by the fact that the ABC sees the need to explicitly create a social media role – it is to my mind an empty gesture, a case of affirmative action gone mad. If the ABC truly did see social media as a legitimate new way to report politics, then they would not have created a specific role for one reporter: they would have simply opened up the platform […]

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Autism badly served by “Communication Shutdown”

Am I the only person offended by tomorrow’s “Communication Shutdown”. The campaign website says the event is a global initiative to “raise much-needed funds for autism groups in over 40 countries. By shutting down social networks for one day on November 1, we hope to encourage a greater understanding of people with autism who find social communication a challenge.” So, this slick PR campaign encourages people to raise funds and awareness by superficially mimicking the social isolation experienced by those with autism. This tribute-form of autism is to be manifested apparently by swearing off Twitter and Facebook for a day. Did no-one give this campaign a test-run before launching it globally? Did no-one wonder whether this clumsy attempt at empathy would be perceived as counter-intuitive, patronising and offensive? Social media is in fact a godsend for childen and adults with autism, as well as their families and friends. Jean Winegardner’s son Jack has autism and she blogs on Autism Unexpected. I was particularly taken with the blog Jean wrote on social media and autism earlier this year. Jean said: It’s easy to make fun of social media. How many ways do you need to broadcast what you are doing right this second? For parents of children with autism and people with autism themselves, however, social media can be a lifesaving conduit to a social world that is too difficult to interact with IRL—in real life. For people like us, social […]

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New media prejudice based on fear of the unknown

It’s human nature to dislike, even hate, what we fear and to fear that which is foreign to us. These drivers underpin many of the entrenched prejudices that exist in this world, to humanity’s great shame and dismay. Prejudice and its implications can occur on a grand scale or at the micro level. The most profound cast a shadow over people’s gender, sexuality, colour and religion. At the micro level it may be the cut of your suit, the ink on your skin or even the way you speak that fans the embers of ignorance into the flames of prejudice. While these biases are nothing compared to the ones mentioned above, they still exist and should be challenged. Well, at least that’s what we always say about prejudice – that it should be challenged. Perhaps it’s more a matter of deconstructing prejudice through personal experience. Attitudes are very hard to shift, but they can be altered with knowledge gained through first hand experience. There are many (but clearly not enough) examples of people relinquishing their prejudices once the unknown becomes the personally known, either through a friend or relative coming out, or by getting to know someone of a different colour or religion. It’s the micro level of prejudice that I’ve pondered since attending the Media140 social media conference last month. Quite a number of mainstream media journalists participated in panel discussions and I was struck by the disdainful way […]

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