Week 1 Post:A New Year, A New Semester, A New Module, A New Blog….

A New Year, A New Semester, A New Module, A New Blog….

Amongst many new things brought in after the New Year, today brought in the exciting new subject of Public Relations. While not strictly the domain of journalists such as myself and the other tengu, the subject is invariably linked to the disease plaguing journalists of the age. I refer, of course, to the five filters defined by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman to explain why journalists are mere instruments in the propaganda model.

The entire raizon d’etre of Public Relations, as I understand, is the management of public image and psychology with regards to an organisation. While not strictly identical to advertising, in both areas one can find that such literature and media often takes on the rhetoric of proselytisation; it appeals to the audience by self-promotion. While generally PR efforts are directed towards the media, advertising is directed straight at the audience. However, recent technological changes reduce the barriers of entry to media production. The line between advertising and PR is thus increasingly becoming blurrier.  This is best seen in the correlated decline in old media and ascension in new media. During the midterm congressional elections in the United States, viewers relied largely on blog-based news to get information on highly localised and niche reporting of events. Traditional media outlets were unable to carry out one such grassroots-scale coverage of events. The fact that media is becoming more open and liberalised means that the level of connection between the reporter and his viewers is greatly increased. Per Consequens, their level of connection to big organisations decreases.  Reporters in new media rely on their localised connections to create news rather than through press releases. By virtue of their lack of connection to organisations, their reporting becomes less dependent on PR professionals. The indirect consequence of this is that PR becomes less relevant.

You must understand my indignation and scepticism for functions relating to Public Relations. The very notion that one might try to sway the judgement of a journalist to one’s benefit is so vulgar it should be considered an attack on the freedom of speech. But perhaps my notions of journalism are too glorified; too pure and immature. Chomsky and Herman have already shown that journalists are never truly in pursuit of that elusive yet sublime thing we call objective truth. But I digress, back to the topic of PR in general.

A side consequence of the changes that have occurred over the past decade is that new media is greatly cannibalising the market share of old media. The market share in media is synonymous with and tantamount to audiences’ attention span. Sadly, this may result in less demand for PR services.  For example, while PR professionals may have targeted traditional media outlets such as newspapers, television, radio, etc.; the worldwide decline in old media will inevitably force Public Relation departments to decrease in relevance.  Mere economic decisions based on the usefulness of old media demolish the usefulness of PR as a whole. One proposed escape route would be to adapt PR to new media. However, I find this prospect to be quite dubious. Unlike occupational journalists who rely largely on PR professionals for press releases to generate their narratives, citizen and independent journalists on the web take up a much more scrutinising approach to news. This is best seen in Jakob Nielson’s study of how users read on the web. The fact is that web users reject promotional writing or “marketese”. This makes any attempt to openly influence or shape public opinion highly unlikely to have any effect. The user in modern media rejects such language and proselytisation as unacceptable.

The flipside is this: how to subtly shape the audiences’ attention, without it being so obvious to trigger off alarm bells in their sceptical minds. Surely it is a thin tightrope that PR professionals thread, maintaining objective truth (or the appearance of which!), while presenting “news” in a manner which can shape viewer’s minds. One tactic which I have noted is feeding news outlets with product news, samples, and goods from one’s organisation (read: bribery). Doing as such promises positive, albeit indeterminable payouts. By drawing the source’s attention to one’s products, one indirectly draws the journalist’s (I use the word very broadly here) attention away from competitors, simultaneously ensuring one’s own coverage while diminishing competitors’ coverage.  The distinct possibility of having a stream of free goods terminated by the organisation would effectively discourage the news outlet from putting out much bad press.

It is situations like this which make me question how much value one can put on journalistic integrity. In the otaku blogosphere which I associate with frequently, prominent figurine bloggers who receive free sample figurines of new releases from companies are often envied and many aspire to that status. Onesuch blogger is a man I personally respect: Danny Choo. However, those people who envy them do not realise that they, like Judas Iscariot, have been paid the price of the metaphorical 30 pieces of silver in exchange for their loyalty. They have betrayed their own sense of objective reporting for a commercial kickback. Disgusting.

One limitation which I can foresee with the use of feeding news outlets with product news, samples, goods, etc., is that the competitor, too, can do so. Furthermore, if the news outlet discloses that he is reviewing something which was given to him free, competitors are likely to join in the bribery and incentivise the writer to review or feature their goods/products. In the end, this may result in a zero-sum game where no-one is better off as the news outlet becomes flooded with goods which overwhelm his reviewing capacity. Nonetheless, at the very least, if a companies’ PR department is the first to initiate such (indirect)bribery, they can be assured of having a First Mover’s Advantage. A First Mover’s Advantage is an economic theory which refers the resources that the first firm to set up in a market can have. For example, if we take the case of the abovementioned figurine company supplying bloggers with sample figurines, then the first mover’s advantage could be that of larger profit margins and market share, as well as intangibles such as branding. Even if other figurine companies follow suit, they may not be able to replicate the same success.

In conclusion, while I am quite sceptical about the ethical implications of the manipulation of news outlets, I do recognise the skill and precision required for Public Relations practitioners to maintain the appearance of objective truth while pushing their corporate agendas. I look forward to this course.

Word Count: 1095

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7 Responses to “Week 1 Post:A New Year, A New Semester, A New Module, A New Blog….”


  1. 1 Dr. Fu Manchu January 18, 2011 at 1:00 am

    Dear aggrandized-harridan,
    While the majority of your article that does not concern your personal opinion is largely sound enough, your delusional self-righteousness, your insular mindset, your juvenile propensity to assume your stance as that of the moral high-ground, your exaggeration, and your hypocritical annotations regarding the perceived profit-seeking nature of journalists stirs such abject revulsion in my heart, I cannot help but sneer a little inside at how little evidence you provided to prove yourself a “better man”.
    Do you honestly think that given the chance, you would turn down the same opportunities afforded to these people? Can you honestly say, without flinching, without any sense of shame, that you would be immune to the machinations of these organisations? How dare you, wide eyed media romantic. You accuse others of rhetoric, and yet you dull out hackneyed terminology such as the “pursuit of objective truth” and the “freedom of speech”? I suggest you take a good hard look into a mirror before you judge the moral bankruptcy of these people you call “disgusting”.
    Nolite iudicare ut non iudicemini – Quis custodiet ipsos custodies.
    Still, the fact of the matter is that such trends, this ethical decay that you so loathe, will likely continue into the foreseeable future, a fact that is simply beyond your control. So, go be “quiet” and “unconnected” as the world flies you by without concern.
    I won’t lose any sleep over it, will you?

    • 2 exaltdragon January 21, 2011 at 1:03 am

      Dear Dr Fu

      It is kind of you to misinterpret my article without any sense of cohesiveness in your criticisms. I would like to ask exactly how is that you come to the conclusion that I appear self-righteous? Or Insular? Or that I take the stand of morals? It sounds very much as if you merely construe my perspectives in any way you find offensive by singling out and distorting the facets held within the rhetoric, not unlike the cherry picking that people who read articles to be offended often engage in. But I trust a strategic genius such as yourself would engage in no such shallow reading of articles. I see you take issue with the vagueness of terms such as “objective truth” and “freedom of speech”.. This is a good development. Please allow me to enlighten you on the usage of the straw man rhetoric. The straw man rhetoric is one which allows the reader to see the folly of an argument by drawing out the flaws in it. Did I not make it obvious that I respect a certain mentioned individual? How could I possibly respect and feel disgust at the same time. Herein lies the strength of the straw man rhetoric, it gets you thinking as to the problems with one argument by pointing out an absurd conclusion.

      The decay which I mentioned is not one that is moral, and most certainly one that is not beyond control. It is very much physical and tangible in nature. I find you lack of understanding of the five filters of the Propaganda Model to be…disturbing. It is not moral because it does not discuss ethics or ethical thought directly. It discusses a real lack of articles in a very much physical arrangement. News(or any commodity for that matter) is whatever sells, and hence the five filters are a distortion of this fundamental rule. It can most certainly be controlled by a conscious rejection of the five filters. Do the words “duty” and “obligation” mean nothing to you? If so, then I think it would be very hard for you to find a purpose in life. It is most certainly worth losing a few hours of sleep to determine the path of a lifetime. But perhaps you have already found that for yourself. Or do you seek to live as an elephant in the elephant forest, alone and ignorant of worldly affairs?

  2. 3 None of your concern January 18, 2011 at 8:58 am

    You, sir, are a self-aggrandizing little hypocrite and a text wanker.
    Liking your own post, self-professing faggot.
    Parasite, To Hell With You.

    • 4 exaltdragon January 18, 2011 at 9:25 am

      Don’t like, don’t read. Simple as that. Don’t waste your own time writing worthless comments and my time reading them.

  3. 5 Douche-kicker January 20, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    That’s your sorry excuse for a comeback you asinine pseudo-activist?

    Committing logical fallacy, posting an overused phrased and having the nerve to act as if you were entitled to decide what’s of worth? How much more conceited and predictable can you get?

    What’s next on your list of generic retorts huh? “Fuck you I’m a dragon” or the perennial favourite “get out of my site”?

    You bitch and moan and keyboard your way around in your room as if you were the guardian of press freedom. You’re as much the guardian of free press as Sea Shepard is the guardian of all whale-kind.

    Gigolo of press freedom is more your type. No, someone like you doesn’t even deserve to be paid for cum-guzzling.

    You talk a big game about the virtues of the freedom of speech, but just as expected you cave in when your ass is on the business end of an uninhibited verbal kicking, don’t you dragonboy?

    Here’s a suggestion exalted poontang, go buy a ticket to the USA, pay Chomsky a visit, give him that special shit-eating grin of yours and if he hasn’t already been disgusted by your chink features, fellate him like the good pock-marked sycophant you are.

    • 6 exaltdragon January 20, 2011 at 11:20 pm

      That’s your sorry excuse for a comeback you asinine internet police?

      Committing a total lack of argument, posting overused trolling insults and having the nerve to act as if you are entitled to decide what’s of worth? How much more conceited and predictable can you get?

      What’s next on your list of generic retorts huh? “Fuck you I’m a kicker” or the perennial favourite “get out of my internet”?

      You bitch and moan and keyboard your way around in your room as if you were the guardian of internet expression. You’re as much the guardian of blog posts as Sea Shepard is the guardian of all whale-kind.

      Shithole of internet comments is more your type. No, someone like you doesn’t even deserve to be paid for anything.

      You talk a big game about the virtues of the freedom of speech, but just as expected you cave in when your ass is on the business end of an uninhibited verbal kicking, don’t you doucheboy?

      Here’s a suggestion kicked poontang, go buy a ticket to the China, pay Mao Tze Dong a visit, give him that special shit-eating grin of yours and if he hasn’t already been disgusted by your singaporean features, fellate him like the good pock-marked sycophant you are.

  4. 7 exaltdragon January 20, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Oh come on, I am getting bored of your amateurish trolling…. Try harder, would you? A little more creativity wouldn’t hurt. At this rate, I might actually fall asleep before I can reply or approve your next comment…(ΘεΘ;)ZZzzzzzzzzz lawl.


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