Please Make It Stop

by Walter Brasch Pennsylvania, which had been a no-contest state in presidential primaries because of its late balloting, is a now a swing state with less than a week until the election. Just about every voter by now has received dozens of robocalls, e-mails, letters, postcards, and exposure to almost-uncountable radio, TV, digital, satellite, and social media ads. Most are attack ads, with similar messages. The ads focus upon homeland security, taxes, immigration, pro-life/pro-choice, and bringing jobs back to America. The conservatives have thrown in the phrase “liberal extremists” in many of their ads in an effort to shock all America to believe that liberals are somehow tied to Muslim extremists. The liberals are pushing an agenda that defines the … Continue reading

Chewbacca and the World of Semi-Reality News Media

  by Rosemary and Walter Brasch   A Facebook video of a woman wearing a Chewbacca mask and laughing almost hysterically in her car has drawn more than 140 million hits from numerous sources in the past two weeks. Candace Payne, a 37-year-old mother of two from Grand Prairie, Texas, has had to hire a publicist to help field the numerous calls from the media—and, perhaps, wookies who want to have an affair. Why so many people have been intrigued by the three-minute video may be because people just need to laugh in a year in which political hate and the media have come together to annoy anyone with a temperature. It may also be because the people realize that … Continue reading

Major Catastrophe: Major Media Problem

By Walter Brasch   On Oct. 23, Southern California Gas technicians discovered a leak of methane from a failed casing on one of the pipes in its Alisa Canyon storage facility, about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The company estimates it will be the end of March until it can plug that leak from the pipe that is about 9,000 feet deep. About 77,000 tons of methane, a greenhouse gas that can widen the ozone hole in the atmosphere, have already gone into the air. Residents in the area have complained of nausea, dizziness, headaches and nosebleeds from the sulfur-like odor that is put into natural gas to identify it. Residents of about 3,000 households have been relocated. Hundreds … Continue reading

Today’s Media: Often Pandering to Bias and Ignorance

  by Walter Brasch   The Texas board of education didn’t find anything wrong with a world geography textbook that said slaves from Africa were workers, but that immigrants from northern Europe were indentured servants. This is the same school board that five years ago demanded that textbooks emphasize that slavery was only a side issue to the cause of the civil war, and that Republican achievements be emphasized in political science and civics textbooks. For good measure, the officials also wanted a “fair and balanced” look at evolution versus intelligent design or creationism, and that global warming is only a theory, overlooking substantial and significant scientific evidence. Because Texas adopts textbooks for the entire state, and there is minimal … Continue reading

‘Paging Dr. Doctivity’: Medicine Evolves Into a Business Model

      by Walter Brasch   Beneath a three-column headline in my local newspaper was a barely-edited press release. That’s not unusual. With the downsizing of newsrooms, there’s more room for wire service soft features and press releases. But this one caught my attention. SystemCare Health in New Jersey promoted a graduate of a college in my town to the lofty position of Senior Director of Doctivity. I checked the dictionary—“Doctivity” didn’t exist. I checked WebMD, the website for amateurs to learn the meaning of unpronounceable medical terms—and how to recognize their symptoms and treatments. Nothing there. That left SystemCare Health’s website, which spewed a barrage of buzzwords and useless gibberish, the kind that people in marketing and business … Continue reading

Questionable Calls in the Sports Department

  by Walter Brasch   With the opening of the high school football season, local newspapers and TV stations have again been running lists of what they believe are the top teams. Most lists rank teams in the “top 10.” One Pennsylvania TV station, whose on-air number is 16, runs the “Top 16.” There are several problems with these lists. First, we don’t know how they got those rankings. We don’t know who makes up those lists or what criteria were used. It could be a sports editor and her grandfather. It could be a bunch of station personnel sitting at a bar, throwing back vodka slammers and team names. Even if we know how the lists are compiled, a … Continue reading

The Boss Who Fought for the Working Class

  by Walter Brasch   He was born into poverty in New Hampshire in 1811. His father was a struggling farmer. His mother did most of the other chores. He was a brilliant student, but the family often moved, looking for a better life—a couple of times so the father could avoid being put into debtor’s prison. At the age of 15, he dropped out of school and became a printer’s apprentice, sending much of his wages to help his family. For several years, he worked as an apprentice and then as a printer, his hands covered by ink, his body ingesting the chemicals of that ink. He worked hard, saved money, helped others achieve their political dreams, became the … Continue reading

They Brand Cattle, Don’t They?

by Walter Brasch “Branding! We have to make you a brand!” “I’m not cattle,” I told my sometimes faux foil assistant Marshbaum, who had just burst into my office. “And if you think I’m getting a tattoo,” I replied, “my body isn’t a canvas.” “It’s sure wide enough,” Marshbaum flippantly replied. Before I could throw sheets of wadded up paper at him, he explained what he meant. “It’s not a fire-iron brand,” he explained. “It’s strategic marketing.” “I’m a journalist,” I reminded Marshbaum, “I don’t do that kind of thing.” “You will if you want to stay in business.” “I’ve been in this business four decades, and I’ve never been branded.” “That’s why we need you to do TV commercials,” … Continue reading