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Rumors of housekeeping have been greatly exaggerated*

August 1, 2008 | Journalism,Media,MSM,Research,Statistics

This headline was on the front page of my newspaper this morning: “‘Clean Enough’ Is New Housekeeping Standard.” My newspaper didn’t archive it online, but it’s a McClatchy article written by Federica Narancio.

In my own little upside-down world, I imagine that instead of this …

Many women who work outside the home, including those with helpful kids and husbands, have come up with a new housekeeping standard, according to sociologists and family relations experts. It’s called “clean enough.”

the first paragraph would read like this …

Many men who work outside the home, including those with helpful kids and wives, have come up with a new housekeeping standard, according to sociologists and family relations experts. It’s called “clean enough.”

And y’all’d be going, “And this is news?”


*I totally ripped off the headline for this post from a book I just started reading: Rumors of our Progress have been Greatly Exaggerated by Carolyn B. Maloney.

One of the first things I highlighted came after she talked about $54 million damages Morgan Stanley paid in a sex-discrimination case, and she pointed out that the cost might have made the company work especially hard to do away with discrimination. Yet, in 2007, Morgan Stanley settled another sex-discrimination case for $46 million.

Despite these incidents, Morgan Stanley has been cited numerous times by Working mother magazine as one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers. That makes me wonder how bad things are at other companies.

Hmm. Seems Rep. Maloney can smell the BS.

Posted by Becky @ 7:54 pm | 3 Comments  

Politics: The Telephone Game

February 25, 2008 | 2008 campaign,Barack Obama,Blogging,Ethics,Hillary Clinton,Journalism,Media,MSM,Politics


CityMama at the MOMocrats accused Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., of leaking a photograph of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., wearing a turban. Where did CityMama get her information?

CNN’s Political Ticker.

Where did CNN get its information?

The Drudge Report. (CNN editors: “No need for fact-checking. Get this published now!”)

Where did Drudge get his information?

An e-mail sent by “stressed Clinton staffers” “obtained by the Drudge Report.”

Really? Hmm.

I found the picture published by HAN-Geeska Afrika Online in September 2006. Anyone with a mouse and five minutes could have found it. It’s already been “circulated.”

Posted by Becky @ 11:26 pm | 4 Comments  

Politics: All the world’s a stage

February 18, 2008 | 2008 campaign,Barack Obama,Fundraising,Hillary Clinton,Iraq,John McCain,Journalism,Media,MSM,Politics,SNL


I watched Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., on Saturday Night Live. Again. It was a rerun from his October 2007 appearance. He wore an Obama mask (it was the Halloween show), took it off to reveal … (surprise!) Obama … and shouted the famed phrase, “Live! From New York! It’s Saturday Night!


Wait. When did that happen? Didn’t politicians used to wait until they were out of office before doing SNL?


Bob Dole appeared on SNL in 1996 after he lost his bid for president. George Herbert Walker Bush appeared on SNL in 1994 (after his presidential term) and 2000.


What is this? The Fred Thompson effect? Arnold Schwarzenegger? Jesse Ventura? Or was it Ronald Reagan? And why do they all scramble to appear on The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Real Time with Bill Maher? Is it because mainstream news has become such a joke that the fake news is more exciting?

Some ask if the Obama appearance constitutes an SNL endorsement. So I wondered how much money SNL producer Lorne Michaels gave to Obama. Interestingly enough, he’s given quite a bit to … Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Speaking of McCain, he was apparently the first elected official to host SNL — while in office — in 2005. He even sang Barbra Streisand songs. In 2002, he joked about impending war. Because, you know, war is funny. I mean, gosh, if you can’t laugh at war, what can you laugh at? What’s next, John? A waterboarding skit?

The line between politicians and celebrities blurs and sometimes disappears with celebrity endorsements as the big news of the day. They line up behind their politicians, and regular folks are supposed to care.

Updated: Mike Huckabee was on SNL this weekend.

Hillary Rodham Clinton


(Click on the pictures to see political donations.)

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., has been endorsed (so far) by Maya Angelou, America Ferrera, Quincy Jones, Billie Jean King, Jack Nicholson, Rob Reiner, Kimora Lee Simmons, Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Amber Tamblyn.

John McCain


McCain has been endorsed (so far) by Curt Schilling, Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.

Barack Obama


Obama has been endorsed (so far) by Halle Berry, Zach Braff, Ken Burns, George Clooney, Larry David, Robert De Niro (but he’s given $14,200 to Hillary Clinton), Hill Harper, Scarlett Johansson, Sheila Johnson, Dave Matthews, Kal Penn, Chris Rock, Will Smith, Maria Shriver, Kathleen Turner, Usher, Forest Whitaker, Keisha Whitaker, James Whitmore and — in case you missed it — Oprah Winfrey.


Enter will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas and Yes We Can.

Can what, Sam I Am … I mean … will.i.am? Oh, right. You bring your cocoa puff, I’ll bring my lovely lady lumps … get you drunk, make you scream, get you spendin’ all your money … riiiiiiight … umm, sure … yes.we.can, will.i.am.

Black Eyed Peas
My Humps
Monkey Business, 2005

What you gon’ do with all that junk?
All that junk inside your trunk?
I’ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps (Check it out)

I drive these brothers crazy,
I do it on the daily,
They treat me really nicely,
They buy me all these ices.
Dolce & Gabbana,
Fendi and NaDonna
Karan, they be sharin’
All their money got me wearin’ fly
Brother I ain’t askin,
They say they love my ass ‘n,
Seven Jeans, True Religion’s,
I say no, but they keep givin’
So I keep on takin’
And no I ain’t taken
We can keep on datin’
I keep on demonstrating.

My love (love), my love, my love, my love (love)
You love my lady lumps (love),
My hump, my hump, my hump (love),
My humps they got you,

She’s got me spending.
(Oh) Spendin’ all your money on me and spending time on me.
She’s got me spendin’.
(Oh) Spendin’ all your money on me, up on me, on me

What you gon’ do with all that junk?
All that junk inside that trunk?
I’ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
What you gon’ do with all that ass?
All that ass inside them jeans?
I’m a make, make, make, make you scream
Make you scream, make you scream.
Cos of my hump (ha), my hump, my hump, my hump (what).
My hump, my hump, my hump (ha), my lovely lady lumps (Check it out)

I met a girl down at the disco.
She said hey, hey, hey yea let’s go.
I could be your baby, you can be my honey
Let’s spend time not money.
I mix your milk wit my cocoa puff,
Milky, milky cocoa,
Mix your milk with my cocoa puff, milky, milky riiiiiiight.

They say I’m really sexy,
The boys they wanna sex me.
They always standing next to me,
Always dancing next to me,
Tryin’ a feel my hump, hump.
Lookin’ at my lump, lump.
You can look but you can’t touch it,
If you touch it I’ma start some drama,
You don’t want no drama,
No, no drama, no, no, no, no drama
So don’t pull on my hand boy,
You ain’t my man, boy,
I’m just tryn’a dance boy,
And move my hump.

My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump.
My lovely lady lumps (lumps)
My lovely lady lumps (lumps)
My lovely lady lumps (lumps)
In the back and in the front (lumps)
My lovin’ got you,

She’s got me spendin’.
(Oh) Spendin’ all your money on me and spending time on me.
She’s got me spendin’.
(Oh) Spendin’ all your money on me, up on me, on me.

What you gon’ do with all that junk?
All that junk inside that trunk?
I’ma get, get, get, get you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
What you gon’ do with all that ass?
All that ass inside them jeans?
I’ma make, make, make, make you scream
Make you scream, make you scream.
What you gon’ do with all that junk?
All that junk inside that trunk?
I’ma get, get, get, get you drunk,
Get you love drunk off this hump.
What you gon’ do wit all that breast?
All that breast inside that shirt?
I’ma make, make, make, make you work
Make you work, work, make you work.

(A-ha, a-ha, a-ha, a-ha) [x4]

She’s got me spendin’.
(Oh) Spendin’ all your money on me and spendin’ time on me
She’s got me spendin’.
(Oh) Spendin’ all your money on me, up on me, on me.

(And that won a Grammy.)

Updated to add:

Thank you, Todd, at The Bullshit Observer.

Posted by Becky @ 11:24 pm | 6 Comments  

Focus group tests language to sell war against Iran

November 20, 2007 | Advertising,Iran,MSM,PR

According to Mother Jones, Martin Focus Groups of Alexandria, Va., paid participants $150 to answer questions about what language would best sell military action against Iran to the American public.

How would you feel if Hillary [Clinton] bombed Iran? How would you feel if George Bush bombed Iran? And how would you feel if Israel bombed Iran?

Mother Jones first reported that the focus group was sponsored by Freedom’s Watch (whose literature accompanied the focus group), but it turns out it was commissioned by the Israel Project and designed by Public Opinion Strategies.

What does this mean? Probably a lot more stories in mainstream media via press releases and other means.

Stay tuned.

Posted by Becky @ 2:04 pm | Comments  

E&P photos of the year cover

November 15, 2007 | Advertising,Journalism,Media,MSM,PR


The November 2007 issue of Editor & Publisher showcases its “Eighth Annual Photos of the Year.” The magazine (not the cover posted online) has a yellow sticker:


Also on the cover is a photograph of the grand-prize winner, camera in hand. Clearly a Canon. Yeah, yeah. He won a Canon camera as the grand-prize winner. But, well, yuck.

“Turn the camera a little to the right. We can’t see the logo.”

Yeah, yeah. It’s a magazine cover, not a news photo. But still. Yuck.

In other E&P news, “What Do Women Want?” [Scratching head.]

Newspapers are losing working mothers and time-pressed single women even faster than they are losing readers overall. Adult newspaper readership has dwindled from more than 80% of the total audience in 1964 to 49.9% last year, according to Scarborough Research and the Newspaper Association of America (NAA). But in 1964, only about 2% fewer women read newspapers than men. That gap stood at nearly 5% in 2006, with readership among men being 52.3% and women 47.6%. This gender gap is not just a U.S. problem, but shows up in nearly every nation, the World Association of Newspapers reported last year.

While I would dearly love to pick apart the numbers (a 3 percent gender-gap increase in 42 years … stop the presses!), I just don’t have time. I skimmed the article because, well, apparently I’m a “habitual skimmer.”

Some of the most powerful themes for women are the health and wellness of their children. Women are “habitual skimmers,” so stories should be short to attract female readers, says Skoloda. Research shows they like brief and bulleted formats, but they also want personal stories. “USA Today certainly has a format that has been very appealing to women,” she adds. Another favorite: The Wall Street Journal’s “Weekend Journal.”

So keep the stories short, bub. Hey, here’s an idea. Why not make everything pink? I hear girls love pink.

Posted by Becky @ 12:26 am | 1 Comment  

Extra sand in the glass … and cash in the pocket?

November 3, 2007 | Journalism,MSM,Statistics


Have you been reading that changing clocks earlier in spring and later in fall is saving us energy and money? Maybe. If we turn the hourglass back to 1974.

Carl Bialik, The Numbers Guy at The Wall Street Journal, said that statistics used to promote the Energy Policy Act of 2005 are outdated and supposed savings are in doubt.

When Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, introduced the bill, they said the extension could save Americans the equivalent of 100,000 barrels of oil a day — an estimate repeated frequently in the media. But that statistic relied on figures from 1974, when President Nixon sprung clocks forward early, in January, during an energy crisis.

Never mind that our energy use is much, much different than it was three decades ago.

(I’m not sure when WSJ articles disappear behind the paywall, so here is another link to the article.)

Posted by Becky @ 12:34 pm | 1 Comment  

State Department grants*** Blackwater immunity

October 30, 2007 | Blackwater,Death,Defense industry,Ethics,FEMA,George Bush,Iraq,Military,MSM,PR,U.S. government


But it apparently didn’t tell FBI agents before sending them to Baghdad to investigate the Sept. 16, 2007, incident that left 17 Iraqis dead.

The investigative misstep comes in the wake of already-strained relations between the United States and Iraq, which is demanding the right to launch its own prosecution of the Blackwater bodyguards.

Misstep? The U.S. State Department can’t seem to get a grasp on oversight. The U.S. embassy offers to pay Iraqi families $12,500 for each Blackwater victim. Who’s running this joint? FEMA?

Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell declined comment about the U.S. investigation.

Well. Duh.

It’s not clear why the Diplomatic Security investigators agreed to give immunity to the bodyguards, or who authorized doing so.

Of course not.

Bureau of Diplomatic Security chief Richard Griffin last week announced his resignation, effective Thursday. Senior State Department officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said his departure was directly related to his oversight of Blackwater contractors.

But Blackwater branches out and expands its contracts, even though it was accused of stealing Iraqi airplanes, smuggling and illegally selling weapons, almost killing a U.S. soldier and evading taxes.

Last week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ordered a series of measures to boost government oversight of the private guards who protect American diplomats in Iraq. They include increased monitoring and explicit rules on when and how they can use deadly force.

Right. Cultural awareness training. Yeah. That’ll fix it. Heckuva job, Condi.

At least the immunity explains why Blackwater CEO Erik Princewelcomes extra oversight,” has employed a new PR campaign and blitzed (blizted with Blizter … get it?) the mediachatting with everyone but Letterman, and asked reporters to contact Congress on Blackwater’s behalf. Sort of his own little “bring ’em on” statement.

***Oh, wait. Blackwater always had immunity.

Dig this.

Oh, that Bush. He’s such a kidder.

Need more laughs?

We believe that Iraq as a market will continue to grow for some time due to the outsourcing by the US government in terms of convoy logistics, in terms of guarding, that will continue. The fact that there are obviously huge oil reserves in Iraq and international companies will go back in once the security situation stabilises a bit more. Patrick Toyne-Sewell, ArmorGroup International, The Independent, Oct. 24, 2007

Here are some of the companies with government contracts in Iraq:

Posted by Becky @ 3:11 pm | Comments  

Ecuador refuses to renew U.S. base lease

October 24, 2007 | Ecuador,Military,MSM


To hear mainstream media tell it, you’d think he wants a military base in Miami:

Ecuador wants military base in Miami,” The New Zealand Herald, Oct. 23, 2007

Correa suggests base in Miami,” The Washington Times, Oct. 23, 2007

Did they miss the point?

Correa has refused to renew Washington’s lease on the Manta air base, set to expire in 2009. U.S. officials say it is vital for counter-narcotics surveillance operations on Pacific drug-running routes.

“We’ll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami — an Ecuadorean base,” Correa said in an interview during a trip to Italy. “If there’s no problem having foreign soldiers on a country’s soil, surely they’ll let us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States.”

Posted by Becky @ 10:04 am | 2 Comments  

What Working Mother magazine and WSJ’s Work & Family columnist won’t tell you

October 15, 2007 | Advertising,Blogging,Ethics,Family,Journalism,MSM,PR,Work,Working Mother


I mentioned that TIME published an article questioning the Working Mother magazine “100 best” list, but I didn’t get around to adding that WSJ.com questioned the list too. Sara Schaefer Muñoz of The Juggle posted “Do Family-Friendly Companies Live Up to Their Claim?” on Sept. 25, 2007.

Nine days later, The Wall Street Journal‘s Work & Family columnist Sue Shellenbarger wrote “What Makes a Company A Great Place to Work Today” (on the same page as the “soft” benefits article) on Oct. 4, 2007.

Shellenbarger (who was named one of America’s “25 Most Influential Working Mothers” by Working Mother magazine in 1997, according to a lecture bio) started with, “Tis the season for workplace rankings, with ‘best-workplace’ lists sprouting everywhere this fall,” and she mentioned Working Mother magazine’s list, as well as Business Week‘s “Best Places to Launch a Career” list. Then she broke it into “what’s hot” and “what’s not” categories.


Flexibility. She mentioned AstraZeneca, where “more than two-thirds of the 30 employees in a medical-resources group are regular users of alternative setups tailored to their needs.” (That’s 20 employees.) Which is odd because Working Mother said 90 percent of employees at the main office — almost 2,700 employees — worked some sort of flexible schedule. In any case, neither Working Mother nor Shellenbarger offered more details.

She wrote that in Abbott‘s office in Ohio, “75 percent of 108 employees are on flexible work setups and the rest have day-to-day flexibility.” That’s 81 employees.

Broader programs. She wrote that Pfizer and The Phoenix Cos. added paid paternity leave. Working Mother did not mention this about Phoenix on its list, but it did spell it out for Pfizer, which is actually impressive, relatively speaking, with 35 weeks of maternity leave (15 fully paid) for mothers and 26 weeks of paid leave for fathers and adoptive parents (six weeks fully paid). Even so, it’s still a far cry from what Pfizer employees in Norway and Sweden get.

Vacation time. She mentioned that at Xerox (not a Working Mother “100 best” company), employees can buy an extra vacation week.

Wait. That’s hot?

According to the Center for Economic Policy and Research‘s May 2007 “No-Vacation Nation” report, the United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid leave.

Here’s a chart from that report.


Xerox has employees in every country listed on the chart, meaning its employees in those countries get up to seven weeks paid leave (vacation and holidays) — guaranteed by law. Xerox employees in the United States buy vacation days.

Whew. Somebody open a window. That’s smokin’ hot.

This really deserves its own post, but since she mentioned Shellenbarger by name, I’ll put it here. Former Working Mother magazine editor Lisa Benenson gave publicity tips to corporate benefits managers at a Diversity Roundtable, called “A Journalist’s Perspective: Making the Grade Matters,” in 2002. (Benenson is now editor-in-chief of Hallmark Magazine, giving lessons on the TODAY show about “what flowers say.”)

What does it take to get a Sue Shellenbarger to laud your company in The Wall Street Journal … More importantly, why does it matter?

She referred to journalists who cover work/life issues as “some of your most important advocates.”

The end result of making any of the “Best Of” lists is a bountiful supply of positive news coverage that reflects well on the company, its leadership and employees. The companies that make a top 10 list get incredible publicity. There is nothing like it. There are thousands of media hits all across the country. You just get huge press coverage and recognition for the good work that you’re doing.

Benenson encouraged participants to “seriously consider subjecting their operations to the close scrutiny of journalistic investigation.”

Journalistic investigation? By whom?

Posted by Becky @ 5:23 pm | 2 Comments  

Questions arise in MSM about Working Mother list

September 25, 2007 | Ethics,Family,Journalism,Motherhood,MSM,Parenting,PR,Work,Working Mother


Working Mother posted its 2007 list online. Magazines probably won’t hit newsstands for a while, but press releases are out in full force. A search this morning for the magazine’s best 100 companies for 2007 got 200 hits.

TIME published an article yesterday, raising skepticism about this list.

Here’s an article I wrote about last year’s list. I haven’t read through the whole 2007 list yet, but the names look familiar, which means I probably just need to update last year’s article instead of starting from scratch.

Hat tip for the TIME article: Devra

Posted by Becky @ 9:56 am | 2 Comments  

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