Jour 203-BDP

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Selective MEMRI by Brian Whitaker

1. MEMRI, which stands for Middle East Research Institute, provides translations of Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew media to the west, where few speak Arabic. Its headquarters are located in Washington D.C., but has recently opened offices in London, Berlin, and Jerusalem.

2. MEMRI does not give any contact information on its website or an office address. Its reason according to a former employee, “they don't want suicide bombers walking through the door on Monday morning" (Washington Times, June 20). Brian Whitaker, author of “Selective Memri”, thinks this is an extreme precaution for an organization that simply wants to break down east-west language barriers.
3. The fact that all of MEMRI’s articles reflect badly on the Arab character or promote the political agenda of Israel causes Whitaker to believe that this is not a non-partisan organization.
4. The Hudson Institute is a non-partisan policy research organization that promotes “global security, prosperity, and freedom.” Its current research includes the war on terror and future of Islam and human rights in Asia and Africa. According to the International Relations Center, “Several of Hudson's leaders have ties to neoconservative and rightist pro-Israel organizations” and the institute “consistently reveals partisan inclinations. Richard Perle is a board member of the Hudson Institute and an authority on national security and defense. The International Relations Center characterizes Perle as “a vocal advocate of expansive U.S. military action in the Middle East,” who champions “U.S. intervention in Iran and Syria and consistently advocated for U.S. support of hard-line Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon.”
5. Mr. Ahwad’s ulterior motive in writing about Saddam Hussein’s terror is that this accusation formed part of his application for political asylum in the United States. At that point he was a suspected terrorist or Iraqi Intelligence Agent and sought to prove that Americans had made a mistake.
6. One propaganda success that MEMRI scored against Saudi Arabia is a translation from the Al-Riyadh newspaper “in which a columnist wrote that Jews use the blood of Christian or Muslim children in pastries for the Purim religious festival.” This was based on an anti-Semitic myth from the middle ages and solely illustrates Arabs lack of knowledge about Judaism. This is a columnist’s ignorance, not an official statement from the Arab government as MEMRI implied. Another propaganda success came when Saudi Arabia’s ambassador wrote a poem entitled The Martyrs and MEMRI translated extracts from the poem that were “praising suicide bombers.” A more likely interpretation is that the ambassador is critical of ineffective Arab leaders, but western media repeated MEMRI’s translation almost without question.
7. The articles highlighted by MEMRI are not reflective of Arab newspaper content as a whole, but heavily influence senators, congressman, and opinion-formers that use MEMRI as their sole news source from the Arab world. The co-founder and president of MEMRI in a speech to House committee on international relations “portrayed the Arab media as part of a wide-scale system of government-sponsored indoctrination”.
8. The best way to counter MEMRI agenda is for Arab media companies to publish articles that more accurately paint a picture of their newspaper content.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Cuckoo Makes its Final Flight

In front of a cold gray watchtower a Native American man eerily rocks back and forth in his chair, not missing a beat. The scene and the man appear disconnected, as is the audience filing into Spanos Theatre. Yet as the lights dim, the audience is engrossed in the disturbed world of Pineridge Mental Hospital. Sunday marked the closing performance of Cal Poly Theatre Art Department’s rendition of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

“I chose this play because it is pertinent to the current presidential administration… hopefully the audience will draw some parallels.” stated director Al Schnupp. The political and social implications are of the play are dramatic, dealing with themes such as sexuality and perception versus reality. The audience takes its cue in reacting to the increasingly “heavy” content of the play. As the performance progressed, light laughter was replaced with solemn reverence.

A pivotal strangling scene between the protagonist McMurphy and villain Nurse Ratched, leaves audience members stunned and slightly delayed in offering applause. “The strangling scene is one I would like to redo and make more climatic,” stated director Schupp. But the meaning is not lost on the audience.

Cal Poly student Susan Hirsch believes “McMurphy’s energy is a great contrast to Nurse Ratched’s mechanical-ness.” Her theatre history class discussed “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in class the following day. Professor Josh Machamer requires all his students to see the production and write a three page critique. “The play is not capturing a frozen moment in time, it is a reflection and lesson of society today,” stated Machamer.

As a whole students admire the set design and student actor’s ability to portray mentally unstable patients. Scene transitions puzzled Cal Poly second year Sara Wright, “I didn’t get the narrative monologues of Chief Bromden between scenes, it felt forced.” Words in print and on stage warrant very different reactions. “Some things just make more sense in the book,” stated graduating senior Brittny Peloquin.

Originally written in 1962 by Ken Kesey, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest still has the power to captivate audiences and make them think.” In the winter Cal Poly will put on Bertolt Brecht’s production of “Roundheads and Pointed Heads.” Auditions will take place November 27 and 28th. For questions contact Josh Machamer at

Monday, November 06, 2006

Noting the top five reasons journalists visit a company Web site (see below), conduct your own usability study of five companies that interest you. On each site, search for basic PR information and note your findings in a new blog entry. DEADLINE: Monday (11/7/06) 2pm.1. Find a PR contact (name and phone number)2. Check basic facts about the company (name a top executive, and state the address of the company’s headquarters)3. Check the company’s ‘spin’ on events (what kind of news would most affect/concern the company?)4. Check financial information (any of the following: the company's yearly earnings/projections/budget etc.)5. Download images to supplement a story (each company’s description on your blog must be accompanied by a representational image from the Web site)6. The Web site address

Four Seasons:
1. For Press enquiries contact Nicola Blazier, Corporate Public Relation 1-416-449-1750
2. Barbara Henderson, Senior Vice President 1-416-441-4329
Four Seasons Head Office 1165 Leslie Street Toronto, Ontario Canada MC3 2K8
3. Travel industries, new resort locations worldwide, stock market,
4. 2004 Revenue $2239 million, US employees 10, 625 (43% women, 63% minorities), % job growth (1year) -12%, most common job salary (F&B Assistant Manager) $44,432



1. Chris Gimbl, Starbucks Corporate Spokesman 206-318-8474
2. Howard Schultz, Chairman
Company headquarters 2401 Utah Avenue South Seattle Washington
3. International coffee farms, consumer tastes, recalls, partnerships (ex Itunes), social responsibility
4. 2004 Revenue $6400 millions, US employees 91, 056 (64% women, 28% minorities), % job growth (1 year) 26%, most common job salary (store manager) $43, 600

1. Shasha Richardson, Director Corporate Communications 206-373-3038
2. Blake W. Nordstrom, CEO
Corporate Office 1617 6th Avenue, Suite 500 Seattle, WA 98101
3. Fashion industry, holiday season, economy, International labor
4. 2004 Revenue $7100 million, US employees 45, 112 (72% women, 41% minorities), % job growth (1 year) 3%, most common job salary (sales department manager) $46, 200

S.C. Johnson:

1. Therese Van Ryne, Assistant Public Relations Manager 262.260.3709
2. H. Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO
Company Headquarters 1525 Howe Street Racine, Wisconsin 53403-5011
3. Environmental commitment, International labor force, plastics
4. 2004 Revenue $6500 million, US employees 3,404 (38% women, 15% minorities), % job growth (1 year) 0, most common job salary (SR. Research Scientist) $102,161

General Mills:
1. Pam Becker, General Mills Public Relations 763- 764-2470
2. Steve Sanger, CEO
P.O. Box 9452Minneapolis, MN 55440
3. Kellogg’s sales, recalls, adverting images (ex Cheerio’s honey bee), agriculture
4. 2004 Revenue $11,200 million, US employees 17,993 (40% women, 21% minorities), % job growth (1 year) -5%, most common job salary (retail representative) $40, 997

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Go to a busy public place with a notebook in hand. Develop your ear for dialogue by writing down snatches of overheard conversations; imagine how they could be used in a story. Post at least five overheard quotes along with accompanying story ideas in a new blog entry. DEADLINE: Thursday (11/2/06) before class.

“My other friends are dressed up as an Indian, a construction worker, and a biker.” (overheard from a girl in a police costume talking on her cell phone on Grand Avenue)
Story headline: College Students go Retro for Halloween

“Fatty’s pizza is way better.”
(boy in the Fremont dorm)
Story headline: Local Pizza Faces Fierce Competition

“There’s nothing in SLO, we’re going to Santa Barbara to shop.”
(girl on cell phone in UU)
Story Headline: San Luis Shopping Targets Adult Demographic

“I’ve already been sick three times this year.”
(girl in bathroom by Julian’s)
Story Headline: College Students have the Sniffles

“I beat Han’s ass today.”
(boy in Fremont study lounge)
Story Headline: Violence Spikes Amongst College Freshmen

Friday, October 27, 2006

Iran-Contra in Retrospect

Personal charm and traditional values allowed Ronald Reagan to win the hearts of millions of Americans. However nostalgia has a way of erasing blemishes and sometimes, even entire events. The Iran Contra affair during Reagan’s presidency temporarily marred the president’s reputation and permanently set a precedent of unchecked power becoming corrupt.

In 1985 Iran and Iraq were at war. Meanwhile the United States appeared helpless to secure the release of seven American hostages being held by Iranian terrorists in Lebanon. When the opportunity for American intervention presented itself in the form of supplying weapons to Iran, National Secretary Robert McFarlane, CIA Director William Casey, and President Reagan supported the idea. An underlying motive for the deal was the release of hostages. This sale of weapons directly violated the embargo against selling arms to Iran and Reagan’s campaign promise of never negotiating with terrorists. Beginning October 20, 1985 Israel delivered 96 TOW missiles to Iran on behalf of the United States. Arm sales continued until October 1986, even though not all hostages had been released from the initial sale. These activities were made public by the Lebanese newspaper “Al-Shiraa” in November 1986. Reagan fervently denied the arms-for-hostages deal because “none of the arms we’d shipped to Iran had gone to terrorists who’d kidnapped our citizens.” The scandal escalated when the US was discovered to have overcharged for the weapons and profits diverted to anti-communist Contras in Nicaragua. This violated the Boland Amendment which forbade US support and operations in Nicaragua. The Iran Contra dealings were investigated by independent counsel Lawrence Walsh for eight years and fourteen people were charged. The president’s suffering was short lived and by 1989, as he departed office, his approval rating was the highest of any president since Franklin Roosevelt.
The poor investigation of Iran Contra allowed culprits to survive and thrive in their corruption.

Byrne, Malcolm and Peter Kornbluh. “Iran-Contra: The Press Indicts the Prosecutor.” Columbia Journalism Review. March 1994. Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. 27 October 2006. <>.
Donahue, Bruce. “Power and Personality: A Study of the Iran Arms-for-Hostages Deal.” National Defense University. 27 October 2006. <>.
Wolf, Julie. “The Iran-Contra Affair.” Public Broadcasting Service. 27 October 2006.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Read the following six news stories and identify each lead as ‘summary’ or ‘soft’ (in a new blog entry). After identifying them, change each lead to its opposite (summary to soft; soft to summary) using information from the article. DEADLINE: Wednesday (10/25/06) 5pm. Hard news lead. Five foot three Sarah Shoe stands in the loan office, holding tangible evidence of her success in obtaining a student loan. Shoe, a second year at Stanford University, is unable to afford the pricey tuition and has resorted taking out loans. However this may be the last time Shoe ever has to step foot in a loan office…
*I made up the article content because the New York Times article was inaccessible without registering! Soft news lead. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, white families are three times more likely than their black counterpart to seek state help in resolving insurance disputes. Soft news lead. Swedish businessman Bo Stefan Eriksson is facing charges for having crashed a red Ferrari while under the influence and embezzled a black Ferrari and Mercedes to the United States. Hard News lead. Snoop Dogg has been wowing teenage audiences with his flashy “bling” and controversial rap lyrics for over ten years. However airport employees were far from star struck when Snoop, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, was discovered with a 21-inch collapsible baton as he boarded a New York flight. Hard News lead. Freedom of the press is a luxury that many countries do not possess. According to the group Reporters Without Borders Mauritania and Haiti are less repressive than ever before and improved their record in global press freedom. Alarmingly, France, the United States, and Japan slipped further down on the scale of 168 countries rated. Soft news lead. Schools across the nation are expecting students to read textbooks a grade above their reading level and some required reading may be too difficult for even adults to read.