Sunday, February 28, 2010

Laughs Abound

Colorado Stream City —

Tourists Leave Western City Shutdown

Tourists are fleeing the once attractive Rocky Mountain community as they find the city closing its doors before nightfall. Recent Cocoa-Party activists have limited the duty of the government and caused the shutdown at night.

Since the Cocoaists have wanted to improve individual rights, they have clamored for the role of government to be limited to activities that affect most residents.

“The city streets have pot holes the size of valleys,” said a tourist from Chicago. “They stopped repairing the roads because only half the people drive cars.”

“We’re saving the taxpayer lots of money,” said Councilman Penny Pincher. “Why should we have crews of men working and getting lots of benefits to protect their family when we can turn those dollars back to the community?”

Other tourists left when they found all the restaurants closed except for the local McDonalds. The restaurants depended on truck deliveries from out of town. But the truckers refused to enter the area when the traffic lights disappeared. Those lights ran into disrepair when repair crews were let go. Now no one maintains the equipment.

“Our citizens are right happy to have more cash in their pockets,” said Cocoa-Party co-founder Connie Fused. “Why should people pay for things they don’t use?”

Other tourists had to leave town when they needed medical attention and discovered only one hospital was left open. That clinic services only patients with colds. “Why should the tax payer fund the illnesses of others when those illnesses don’t affect him?” said Fused.

Mayor Slip Re Slope explained that the taxpayers only found a third of the people suffered from heart conditions and cancer. The major illness was the common cold. “So we compromised and decided the government would fund the hospital just for the cold — that helps everyone,” he said.

The rise in crime is another reason tourists are flocking to the exits. Gangs of thieves roam the streets after dark, meeting less than a third of the original police force. The city couldn’t pay the salaries, so they had to fire the other two thirds of the force.

“I don’t know if those people are really thieves,” the Mayor said. “They might just be scurrying about looking for food.”

The rise in crime is blamed on a permissive society, according to the Cocoa-Party people. “They don’t have a decent wage because they are lazy,” said Penny Pincher. “Why don’t they become lawyers and doctors so they can earn dollars like decent people?”

Cocoa image courtesy of

Monday, February 15, 2010

Worlds Meet

Wag The Healthcare Dog

“You could talk a dog off a meat truck.” The words were meant as a compliment in the banter between spin master Conrad Brean and Hollywood producer Stanley Motss in the movie, Wag the Dog. Unfortunately, the words show the strength of propaganda in distracting people from the actual facts and resemble the ways the opposition speaks about healthcare reform. The political satire that was aimed at the Clinton Administration could equally hit a target with terms we have heard recently that concern the Obama Administration’s attempts at health care reform. The words of propaganda have painted a picture that healthcare reform is bad because we would have government control of the services, and the president ought to compromise. Of course, the idea that reforms will cause increased taxes is enough to scare many in the public.

However, maybe the public is being treated as though they were in, Wag the Dog. In the movie, Brean needed a threat to distract the public from the president’s sex scandal so he decided to produce a fictional war with Albania, claiming that some of their terrorists were sneaking a nuclear weapon into America. In the real world, to avoid a scandal by displaying the profits in the health insurance firms, the opposition to reform points at a threat that the government will control health care services. The misuse of propaganda in the movie stopped the public from questioning how the Albanians could acquire, fit and build a nuclear weapon. In the real world, the propaganda has the public afraid to ask how control occurs when the government would have simply been aiding those unable to pay for their coverage.

Propaganda distraction stops people from seeing the history of an event. In Wag the Dog, the promotion of the song about a lost shoe riled up crowds to storm into the face of cameras to support the poor lost American detained in Albania. That activity allowed them to forget that the president had not been honest with the people. That activity allowed them to forget that the president was facing an election. In today’s world, the opposition’s propaganda incensed Tea Party activity and spurred the action to storm the debates about the reform. Much shouting has made it possible to forget the many compromises the president has already made. The concept of universal care changed to that of using a public option. But that changed into using a partial public option, which shifted to no public option. Then the idea of having Medicare and Medicaid to pick up some people emerged. But that was also changed because votes were missing. At each step, the president has been forced to back away. Yet we keep seeing the images of crowds demanding the president should compromise.

Propaganda hides and distorts the real crime. In Brean’s case in Wag the Dog, he created a super hero of a war vet with the name Schumann to link the soldier with the lost shoe concept of the war effort against Albania. The neat package of the image hid the real facts that Schumann was a sex offender and the president also had to answer for a sex crime. With the reform issue in the real world, we only hear about the dangers of increased taxes that would happen with reform. Little mention is made about the 20 to 30 percent jump in insurance premiums that health firms charge. Little mention is made that a patient’s total costs include both taxes and healthcare premiums. Increasing taxes to lower premiums could lower the total cost for the person. But that would interfere with the dog’s tail.

Dare we ask how we can avoid the sounds of the propaganda machine? The shouts from the dog kept a group in political power, while the screams of tea goers could keep the average person enslaved to the insurance industry. But those results only came when the producer’s tale wagged. That result could also occur when the Senate’s 41 votes controls the majority or acts like a tail to wag the national dog. The propaganda machine is powerful, but maybe we should continue the grassroots activity that aided the President. If that grassroots activity showed the flaws in the propaganda, then it could be the tail to wag the tea party machinery.

Wag the Dog image courtesy of
Barack Obama image courtesy of

The Response Meter

What Can Controlled Circulators Do To Help Revenue?

With more and more companies shutting down their print publications in favor of a strictly digital or online presence, circulators are being asked to promote their company’s products in a variety of new and different ways. In some cases, they’re even asking subscribers to pay up front for products that were once given on a complementary basis. As the shift away from print to online continues, I dare to ask what controlled circulation professionals can do to help drive revenue both directly and indirectly.

The BPA Worldwide/Audit Bureau of Circulation Statement was, and in some cases, still is a vital tool for publishers to generate advertising both on the print and online side of the equation. But with the continuing shift to online media and a limited amount of advertising dollars out there, publishers want even more information about their audiences. Circulation managers and directors need to know the ins and outs of web analytics and how to supply relevant online data about their magazine’s and company’s enewsletters, websites and products. The number of visits, hits, page views and unique visits is just the tip of the iceberg. Lead generation from online ads is crucial. Sales people and their advertisers want to see web traffic to their online ads, but also want demographic information about the people who have clicked on those same ads.

With advertising dollars down, publishers and CEO’s are looking outside the box to find new revenue streams. Whether it’s creating marketing services for their clients (or potential clients), or offering products connected with their industry, publishing and media companies are calling on their circulation and marketing teams to help promote those new paid products and initiatives. Along with online promotion of those services, circulators need to work closely with their fulfillment houses, to not only track subscriber and payment information, but have a fulfillment website that offers one-stop shopping for subscribers and potential buyers.

While social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are good ways to help a company’s brand awareness and possibly generate leads, they are still not a tried-and-true method of obtaining new subscriptions.

Many publishing and media companies are looking to derive more revenue by upgrading from free to paid content from their digital magazines, websites and enewsletters. The switch from free-to-paid poses a lot of challenges. Do you charge for all content or just some? How often do you update information? Will there be audio and video associated with the content? These are just some of the questions, publishers and executives need to solve. If not thought out properly, companies run the risk of losing their subscribers as well as current and potential advertisers.

In these tough times, circulators need to work with their sales, editorial and marketing teams and not be afraid to offer detailed information about subscriber activity and trends that they are seeing across all products. Greater analysis of both print and online data will be crucial in helping upper management make important revenue making decisions going forward.

Image courtesy of

Monday, February 1, 2010

Thought of the Week

Some recent examples of distortions of facts have appeared on major media. An NPR interview gave extensive time to an author who stated that the Islamic religion is basically an evil one that seeks only hatred. Another show allowed an in-depth interview with a CIA spokesman who said that the agency never becomes involved with killing. Brit Hume stated that the Buddhist religion doesn’t allow forgiveness like Christianity.

If we value the First Amendment and oppose censorship, I dare to ask, should we allow blatant distortions? Doesn’t the forum have an obligation to feature ideas and opinions that are based on facts?

1) Any opinion is worthy even if the facts and ideology is totally incorrect — the listener will decide on the value of the information.

2) Forums should be focused on the opinions based on facts, and fact checking based on the questions being asked by the interviewer should occur before any discussion.

3) If a forum allows someone to express their opinions regardless of whether that person distorts the facts, then the forum should provide an equal opportunity for the “other” side to defend themselves.

4) Why is space and time being given to these types of people in the first place? Aren’t these forums simply promoting the demonization of various religious, ethnic, political groups, etc without any constructive discourse?

5) Other

List your choice of answer (or answers), or an alternative in the Comment section. If you pick answer #5, include an example as to why you picked "Other".

Image courtesy of