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Weekly Update 19-25 Oct 20

Clips on media/communication, national security, politics, sports, and pop culture worth knowing about in the days ahead.

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Top Clips

Grit plus luck was sufficient to break open the SARS story. I doubt the same will be true for COVID-19. Journalism, even practiced at its highest levels, has an element of chance. Reporters spend hours riding in taxis or trains or airplanes, or on the telephone or online, hoping to land that meeting that might yield a quote or secret document resulting in a story. And if the story is particularly noteworthy, that’s a scoop. A big scoop for a reporter is like hitting your number at a roulette table.

By Thomas J. Bollyky, Sawyer Crosby, and Samantha Kiernan, for Foreign Affairs “Government exists to protect us from each other,” U.S. President Ronald Reagan once famously said, but goes “beyond its limits . . . in deciding to protect us from ourselves.”  When applied to pandemic threats, Reagan’s view was wrong, and so are the views of the many policymakers in the United States and abroad who have adopted it. Confronted with a novel, contagious virus, for which there is no effective treatment and against which people have no preexisting immunity, the only way for government to effectively protect citizens from one another is by convincing them to take the necessary measures to protect themselves. Especially in free societies, the success of that effort depends on the trust between the government and its people.  

The good Lord works in mysterious ways. He (She?) threw a pandemic at us at the exact same time as a tectonic shift in the way we will learn, work and employ. Fasten your seatbelt. When we emerge from this corona crisis, we’re going to be greeted with one of the most profound eras of Schumpeterian creative destruction ever — which this pandemic is both accelerating and disguising.

By David Brooks, NYT

Over the last 100 years, Americans have engaged in a long debate about the role of markets and the welfare state. Republicans favored a limited government, fearing that a large nanny state would sap American dynamism and erode personal freedom. Democrats favored a larger state, arguing that giving people basic economic security would enable them to take more risks and lead dignified lives.

Increased demand for mental health help, advances in telemedicine and the desire for more fulfilling work are driving industry growth; ‘It’s a direct result of this time of isolation’

By Anne Steele, Wall Street Journal

More than a decade into an advertising career, Fernando Barcelona was a midlevel creative in his mid 30s. He had moved from San Francisco to New York to Seattle. He had worked on a Super Bowl ad. But he also was depressed. “I don’t want to do this anymore,” Mr. Barcelona, now 38 years old, remembers thinking. “The pressure just didn’t really justify the money for me.”

By Ian Bogost, The Atlantic American colleges botched the pandemic from the very start. Caught off guard in the spring, most of them sent everyone home in a panic, in some cases evicting students who had nowhere else to go. School leaders hemmed and hawed all summer about what to do next and how to do it. In the end, most schools reopened their campuses for the fall, and when students returned, they brought the coronavirus along with them. Come Labor Day, 19 of the nation’s 25 worst outbreaks were in college towns, including the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Iowa State in Ames, and the University of Georgia in Athens. By early October, the White House Coronavirus Task Force estimated that as many as 20 percent of all Georgia college students might have become infected.

By Omar Rodríguez-Vilá, Sundar Bharadwaj, Neil A. Morgan and Shubu Mitra, for Harvard Business Journal Marketing has never been more complex. Sweeping advances in technology have revolutionized and fragmented the discipline, while societal issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the climate crisis have raised expectations for marketers’ social performance. This combination of diverse forces has transformed how the marketing function must work, requiring that it become more agile, interdependent, and accountable for driving company growth.

By Robert C. O'Brien, for Foreign Affairs For decades, conventional wisdom in the United States held that it was only a matter of time before China would become more liberal, first economically and then politically. We could not have been more wrong—a miscalculation that stands as the greatest failure of U.S. foreign policy since the 1930s. How did we make such a mistake? Primarily by ignoring the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party. Instead of listening to the CCP’s leaders and reading its key documents, we believed what we wanted to believe: that the Chinese ruling party is communist in name only.

By Michael D. Swaine, Ezra F. Vogel, Paul Heer, J. Stapleton Roy, Rachel Esplin Odell, Mike Mochizuki, Avery Goldstein, and Alice Miller; Aaron L. Friedberg, for Foreign Affairs In “An Answer to Aggression,” (September/October 2020), Aaron Friedberg argues that the United States and its allies and partners should use aggressive policies to contain China. Friedberg repeatedly offers sweeping, unqualified worst-case statements about China’s views, intentions, and actions—playing loose with the facts and exhibiting a lack of understanding of aspects of the Chinese system—to justify zero-sum policy prescriptions. Coercive “push back” policies alone will not compel Beijing to do the United States’ bidding—as Washington’s Cuba policy demonstrates. To the contrary, such policies would increase the risk of conflict, strengthen chauvinistic nationalism in China, and reduce the chances that the United States can work with China to deal with urgent common problems.

Our guest is Richard Danzig, the 71st Secretary of the US Navy and former chairman of the Center for a New American Security and senior adviser at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

By Robin J. Ely and David A. Thomas for Harvard Business Review “The business case has been made to demonstrate the value a diverse board brings to the company and its constituents.” “The case for establishing a truly diverse workforce, at all organizational levels, grows more compelling each year….The financial impact—as proven by multiple studies—makes this a no-brainer.” “The business case is clear: When women are at the table, the discussion is richer, the decision-making process is better, and the organization is stronger.” These rallying cries for more diversity in companies, from recent statements by CEOs, are representative of what we hear from business leaders around the world. They have three things in common: All articulate a business case for hiring more women or people of color; all demonstrate good intentions; and none of the claims is actually supported by robust research findings.

By Alexandra Kalev and Frank Dobbin

In late September, Donald Trump ordered federal agencies and companies and universities with federal contracts to stop offering diversity training that addresses systemic racism and sexism. The Wall Street Journal reports that businesses are protesting President Trump’s order, arguing that it attacks free speech and undermines workplace equity. Whether it tramples on free speech rights is a question for lawyers and voters. But whether it undermines workplace equity is a question we can answer.

Advertising and marketing have always been ripe for missteps and pop-culture absurdity, but the emergence of the internet, followed by the rise of social platforms, created seismic changes in how we consume and enjoy media, products, and even communicate with each other. That has made for some historically fertile ground for brand failure, and here’s our tour through the most notable failures since Fast Company‘s birth in 1995—with lessons that endure for those wise enough to heed them.

By Margery Kraus, for PR Daily How do you create a strong, consistent culture when your business is spread out to almost 30 countries? I’ve been asked this question often as APCO has grown. Over time, I found myself answering from my family experience and the link between setting the rules and providing the freedom of movement that comes from trusted relationships.  When my kids were growing up, we had a sign on the wall that read, “There are only two lasting things of value you give your children; one is roots and the other is wings.”

By Amy Yee, for the NYT

The Instagram post looked strange to Amulya Panakam, a 16-year-old high school student who lives near Atlanta. In February, a friend showed her a sensational headline on her phone that declared,Kim Jong Un is personally killing soldiers who have Covid-19!” Of course, the news wasn’t real. “I was immediately suspicious,” Ms. Panakam said. She searched online and found no media outlets reporting the fake story. But her friends had already shared it on social media.

By Bill Wagner, Capital Gazette

John “Jack” T. Schofield Jr. was a member of several halls of fame for his accomplishments as a lacrosse player. To his only son, Schofield was a Hall of Fame father.


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