There’s a quote attributed to Sir Francis Bacon we’ve all heard a thousand times: “Knowledge is power.” And over the past 50 years, especially in the era of mass media, the phrase has been refurbished to include “information.” Leaders all over the world have proclaimed that information, indeed, is power. Coming from someone in the media business, whose chief role is to inform the public, I must admit we’re seeing a powerful exception to the rule. As much as it pains me to spend any more time on this subject, it’s naïve to think we can avoid a quick chat on the coronavirus – or COVID-19, for those who are, for some reason, impressed by the use of meaningless acronyms. At the time of this writing, here are some of the things we know about coronavirus: There is no toilet paper on … [Read more...] about Bad information more dangerous than a virus
While the rest of you talk about candidates and Coronavirus, I need to loop you in on a breakfast menu item that deserves the attention of every animal lover in this city. Here’s what happened, as it does about 30 times a day. I got an email from a public relations firm asking if our newspaper would please consider helping promote an upcoming event. Whether they’re non-profits, community organizations, or the local library, we’re often asked if we will publish information to help drive attendance at events. (And here I was thinking nobody reads newspapers anymore.) They say there’s nothing wrong with negative press, but can’t we at least spend a little more time with our word choice? Here’s the headline: “Puppies for Breakfast returns to Market Square Park on April 11.” Puppies … [Read more...] about Who’s approving these marketing slogans?
A headline in the Houston Chronicle earlier this week caught my attention, as much for its irony as its honesty. I know it may sound a bit off – a publisher of a “competing” newspaper giving kudos to the Chronicle – but our readers should know we at The Leader don’t view our big-city friends as competitors. They do a great job covering big issues in this Greater Houston area, and I feel their journalism has gotten better over the past few years. In the same way, the Chronicle can’t hold a candle to our coverage of this community, and that’s a good thing. One of the issues the Chronicle has covered well is TxDOT’s proposed expansion of I-45, and transportation reporter Dug Begley has done an outstanding job providing an in-depth look at the issues surrounding the expansion. And … [Read more...] about We should cancel the entire I-45 expansion
A couple of lifetimes ago – for no particular reason – I had an idea that my journalism career would, at some point, morph into a political career. While journalists don’t make a lot of money, and probably can’t afford high-dollar campaigns, we do spend a lot of time understanding how things get done in government. Regardless of your beliefs on the wayward lean of journalists across the nation (yes, most tilt in a very specific direction), that doesn’t mean folks in the media don’t have intimate knowledge of politics and the art of what makes for electable candidates. My personal thoughts on political office changed the more I observed the work required to be elected and, eventually, re-elected. And when a wife and then three children entered my once-lonely home, I tossed that … [Read more...] about Politics should make, not be, careers
Have you ever asked someone a straight-forward question, only to receive an answer so far out of Jupiter you can’t even reply? OK, here’s an example: Me: “Hi Bob. Where did you buy that shirt?” Bob: “Magnesium cornbread umbrella.” What? How? Never mind. We got a reply like that at The Leader this week, except the person’s name wasn’t Bob and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t own a metallic, edible umbrella, though we can always wonder. The purpose of today’s column isn’t to embarrass anyone. Instead, and for the purpose of mass media education, I’d like to use this space to explain the creepy, yet effective, process of targeted digital advertising. First, let’s get back to the story. We have a wonderful group of marketing executives at The Leader who work with local … [Read more...] about We’re still searching for a cornbread umbrella