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Weekly Update 21-27 Jun 21

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

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Top Clips

Digital News Report 2021

Reuters Institute and Oxford University

Overview--This year's report reveals new insights about digital news consumption based on a YouGov survey of over 92,000 online news consumers in 46 markets including India, Indonesia, Thailand, Nigeria, Colombia and Peru for the first time. The report looks at the impact of coronavirus on news consumption and on the economic prospects for publishers. It looks at progress on new paid online business models, trust and misinformation, local news, impartiality and fairness in news coverage.

America Is Getting Meaner

By Timothy Egan, NYTimes (Opinion)

I went to see my doctor the other day for a Covid-delayed physical. Instead of talking about what ails me, he wanted to talk about what ails us. A dystopian country. The Babel of misinformation. The lack of trust in everybody and everything. “And how did Dr. Fauci become the enemy?” he said. My doctor is politically moderate and ambidextrously smart. After much steam had been let off, I wanted to say, Enough with American vitals — what about my own? Trust in institutions — government, the press, religion, big business — is at or near record lows. My own profession, journalism, has been kicked to the cellar of disdain. Almost 40 percent of Americans have little or no confidence in newspapers, according to Gallup’s annual surveys — up from 24 percent in 2000.

Opinion: Attacking ‘merit’ in the name of ‘equity’ is a prescription for mediocrity

By George F. Will, The Washington Post

In progressivism’s political lexicon, “equity” is a synonym for government-directed social outcomes that improve conditions for particular government-favored groups. Equity is enhanced when government policies — e.g., affirmative action — narrow disparities of outcomes among groups, usually racial or ethnic, in acquiring wealth or educational excellence. Necessarily, then, the antonym of “equity” as a social standard of justice is “merit,” in this sense: The opposite of an equitable society is a meritocracy. Progressivism increasingly argues that an important impediment to enlarging equity is “the tyranny of merit.”

What 'Likeability' Really Means In The Workplace

Andee Tagle, NPR

The desire to be liked by others isn't all bad — it can mean you're attuned to what other people want and need. Author Alicia Menendez says that this desire becomes a problem when "we are governed by what other people want or need, when we don't feel that we can be our full, authentic selves ... because we are trying to be amiable to other people." The urge to be liked is a powerful force in this world: It can force you to rethink behavior, appearances, even relationships. But despite even the very best efforts, no one has a say in how much other people like them. "Who we like is a deeply subjective thing," says Alicia Menendez. "And what is tricky is that all of that is shaped by a lot of who we are, our markers of identity and the people that we're interacting with, and how many of those markers line up."

Is Education No Longer the ‘Great Equalizer’?

By Thomas B. Edsall, for The New York Times Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C., on politics, demographics and inequality. There is an ongoing debate over what kinds of investment in human capital — roughly the knowledge, skills, habits, abilities, experience, intelligence, training, judgment, creativity and wisdom possessed by an individual — contribute most to productivity and life satisfaction. Is education no longer “a great equalizer of the conditions of men,” as Horace Mann declared in 1848, but instead a great divider? Can the Biden administration’s efforts to distribute cash benefits to the working class and the poor produce sustained improvements in the lives of those on the bottom tiers of income and wealth — or would a substantial investment in children’s training and enrichment programs at a very early age produce more consistent and permanent results?

Opinion: A war on truth is raging. Not everyone recognizes we’re in it.

Opinion by Lee McIntyre and Jonathan Rauch In 2015, word spread online that a routine military exercise in the southwest, called Jade Helm 15, was a plot by President Barack Obama to impose martial law and seize everyone’s guns. The paranoia was “fueled by conservative bloggers and Internet postings,” the New York Times reported. So far did the claim spread that Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor the exercise.

Hong Kong’s Apple Daily Newspaper Prints Last Edition as Free-Press Era Ends

Publication’s demise comes after the government froze its funds, seized computers and arrested executives, ending an era of critical reporting of Beijing

By Elaine Yu, The Wall Street Journal

Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s defiant pro-democracy newspaper that drew the ire of China’s leaders, said it would print its final issue Thursday, ending an era of unfettered reporting critical of Beijing in the city’s mainstream print scene. The 26-year-old newspaper, which is majority owned by jailed Beijing critic Jimmy Lai, has come under immense pressure from Hong Kong authorities, who in the past week froze company assets, seized journalists’ computers and charged two of its top executives under a national-security law that was imposed by Beijing last year to crush dissent in the city.

China Has Stopped Biding Its Time

A bipartisan U.S. consensus emerges on the scale of the threat from Beijing.

Opinion by William A. Galston, The Wall Street Journal

American attitudes toward China have changed dramatically over the past decade. There is much less confidence that the democratic world can bring China into a rules-based international order—or that the growth of the Chinese middle class will create internal pressure for liberalization and democracy. Elites in both political parties agree that competition with China is now at the center of U.S. economic and foreign policy, a stance that many Americans endorse. The accession of Xi Jinping to the peak of Chinese leadership marked the end of the era defined by Deng Xiaoping’s famous maxim, “Hide our strength, bide our time.” Mr. Xi is asserting China’s strength, not hiding it. And he believes that China’s time has come.

China condemns latest U.S. warship transit of Taiwan Strait

By Reuters Staff

China condemned the United States on Wednesday as the region’s greatest security “risk creator” after a U.S. warship again sailed through the sensitive waterway that separates Taiwan from China. The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur conducted a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” on Tuesday in accordance with international law. “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

For military’s top man, navigating the Trump-Biden transition is his biggest test yet

By Missy Ryan, The Washington Post 663 Days after cameras captured him walking alongside President Donald Trump across a square near the White House that had been violently cleared of protesters, Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sat in his office across the Potomac assessing the fallout. People whom Milley respected had issued scathing condemnations of his role in the president’s June 2020 photo op, saying it represented a military endorsement of Trump’s suppression of peaceful protests, and a chorus of commentators called for the general to resign. Friends urged Milley — a gruff, ebullient and sometimes impulsive career soldier — to stay on for the good of the country.

Has the Military Gone ‘Woke’?

Gen. Milley too easily dismisses the risks to recruitment and morale.

By The WSJ Editorial Board The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs told the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday that he “personally” found it “offensive” that Republicans have accused general officers of being “woke.” A pair of Florida Congressmen had been criticizing Gen. Milley over seminars at West Point about “white rage.” The Chief of Naval Operations has recommended “How to Be an Antiracist,” a book that proposes “future discrimination,” ostensibly against white people, on his professional reading list for sailors.

Opinion: In Afghanistan, a summer of pain awaits

By David Ignatius, The Washington Post

As U.S. troops head toward the exit in Afghanistan, the menu of policy options to prevent another ruinous civil war is depressingly meager. And vignettes from across the country offer a glimpse of the torment ahead. In northern Afghanistan, residents of shelters for battered or homeless women are fleeing in advance of the fighting between the Taliban and the government, says Annie Pforzheimer, a retired U.S. diplomat who served two tours in Kabul and is now a director of a group called Women for Afghan Women. She won’t discuss where the women are heading, for fear it could endanger them.

DEFAERO Report Daily Podcast [Jun 21, 21] Bill Moran on Moving From a Data Vision to a Data Strategy

On this episode of the DefAero Report Daily Podcast, Adm. Bill Moran, USN Ret., the US Navy’s 39th vice chief of naval operations who is now a principal advisor with the WestExec Advisors consultancy and the University of Maryland’s Applied Research Laboratory for Intelligence and Security, discusses the importance of harnessing data for decision-making and artificial intelligence, the need for national and DoD data strategies and resourcing them properly, the cultural changes needed to best take advantage of insights revealed by data, the right government-industry partnerships and more with with Defense & Aerospace Report Editor Vago Muradian.

Four times as many troops and vets have died by suicide as in combat, study finds

By Meghann Myers, Military Times

The suicide rate among active-duty troops and veterans has outpaced the also-rising rate in the general population in recent years, but with so many risk factors inherent to military life, it’s difficult to pin down why. There’s no one reason for it, according to a study released Monday by the Costs of War Project, and the way the Defense Department and VA track suicides might mean even their growing numbers are incomplete. “The report notes that the increasing rates of suicide for both veterans and active duty personnel are outpacing those of the general population ― an alarming shift, as suicide rates among service members have historically been lower than suicide rates among the general population,” according to a news release.

CAVASSHIPS Podcast [Jun 25 21] Episode 3…Incidents at Sea

By The Defense & Aerospace Report

Welcome to the CavasShips Podcast with Christopher P. Cavas and Chris Servello, weekly podcast looking at naval and maritime events and issues of the day – in the US, across the seas and around the world. Topping the naval news this week was the strange confrontation between a British destroyer and Russian air and border patrol forces near Crimea in the Black Sea. One side claims shots were fired and even bombs dropped. The other says no such thing happened. We’ll discuss.

And — different nations have different approaches for portraying their militaries and navies. We’ll talk about some of the differences between US, Chinese and Russian public relations efforts.

PR pros: Leave the thesaurus on the bookshelf

When reaching for a more complex variant, wordsmiths looking to find elegant variations risk landing on a phrasing that leaves something to be desired.

By Laura Hale Brockway, PR Daily

Did you ever have an English teacher tell you not to use the same word twice in a paragraph? If so, he or she was encouraging you to use “elegant variation,” a practice as misguided as the ban on starting a sentence with a conjunction. Elegant variation occurs when a writer uses synonyms simply to avoid repeating the same word. Here’s an extreme example: Bananas are a good source of potassium. Eating this elongated yellow fruit can also provide you with Vitamin C. A less extreme example: Four of the defendant’s witnesses were women, while all of the plaintiff’s witnesses were ladies.

Why PR’s Survival Depends on Partnering with the Press

By Nicole Rodrigues, PR News

Similar to many parts of PR, the relationship between media members and communicators is constantly evolving. Moreover, this relationship is crucial to the survival of our industry—you could argue that PR pros need media members more than they need us. Unfortunately, media personnel are finding increasingly less value coming through their inbox from PR pros. If nothing changes, publishers, editors and journalists will simply turn off the tap. As a result, it’s our responsibility to give media members what they need: a less-is-more, powerful pitch approach. To contextualize why it’s the PR pro's duty to proactively equip media members with fitting, fleshed-out, valuable stories, we need merely look at journalism's landscape.

Writer shares short stories through podcast

By Heidi Desch, Whitefish Pilot

Sean Gallagher was reading his short stories out loud to family and friends when someone suggested an idea — put the stories together on a podcast. Gallagher, who had always dreamed of pursuing a career in writing, was intrigued. After writing a collection of stories, finding a recording studio and setting up the technical side of the endevenor the Montana 3000 was born. “I was writing stories and reading them to my wife, then I started reading them to friends and family,” he said. “They were well received and they seemed to like having them read to them.”

In Pakistan, Saying ‘No’ to Covid-19 Vaccine Carries Consequences

Authorities threaten the unimmunized with penalties including cellphone cutoffs and salary suspensions

By Betsy Joles, The Wall Street Journal

Many countries offer incentives to entice people to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Pakistan is taking a more punitive approach. Authorities in this country of 220 million threaten those refusing to accept the shot with punishments from cutting off their cellphone connections to withholding their salaries. The penalties contrast with the prizes being dangled elsewhere in the world. A town in the Philippines is offering people who agree to be vaccinated the chance to win a cow. Some U.S. states are holding lotteries with cash prizes, while Hong Kong is giving away a multimillion-dollar apartment.

We Don't Need A Biden Doctrine Dividing The World Into Good And Bad

Opinion by Aaron Miller and Richard Sokolsky, NPR

Listening to President Biden these days, one can be forgiven for believing that the world is locked into a historic struggle between autocracies and democracies and that the fate of the 21st century — if not the planet itself — will be decided by the will and resolve of democratic nations to win that battle largely under America's leadership. "It is clear, absolutely clear," Biden said in March, "that this is a battle between the utility of democracies in the 21st century and autocracies." He has repeated such remarks so often that they've begun to assume the worrisome form of a doctrine.

Microsoft Discloses New Customer Hack Linked to SolarWinds Cyberattackers

By Robert McMillan, WSJ

Microsoft Corp. said hackers, linked by U.S. authorities to Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, installed malicious information-stealing software on one of its systems and used information gleaned there to attack its customers. The hackers compromised a computer used by a Microsoft customer support employee that could have provided access to different types of information, including ”metadata” of accounts and billing contact information for the organization, a Microsoft spokesman said.

Anne Arundel County executive writes letter to new Capital Gazette owner, invites hedge fund to memorial unveiling

By Danielle Ohl, Capital Gazette.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman on Tuesday penned an open letter to the new hedge fund owner of the Capital Gazette, condemning the voluntary buyouts the ownership offered to staff in the days after the acquisition and inviting the leadership to an event commemorating the third anniversary of the shooting that killed five members of the paper’s staff. “You got a gem,” Pittman wrote of the news organization. “It’s had a lot of owners and changed with the times, but it’s always kept the people around here informed.” Pittman read the letter during an online news conference Tuesday and told media he missed the presence of two former Capital Gazette editors, Rick Hutzell and Chase Cook, who volunteered for the buyouts and left the paper, which is part of Baltimore Sun Media, last week.

Newspaper gunman insanity case starting after three years

By Brian Witte, AP

Three years after the deadliest attack on a newsroom in U.S. history, residents who were shaken by the assault on their local newspaper that killed five people are hopeful that an end to the gunman’s dragging court case is finally near. Opening statements in the second phase of a trial are scheduled for Tuesday to determine whether Jarrod Ramos was legally sane at the time of the mass shooting. Jury selection was completed Friday in the case against Ramos, who called 911 moments after the rampage from inside the newsroom, identified himself as the shooter and said he surrendered. He was later arrested lying face down under a desk. Ramos pleaded guilty to all 23 counts against him in October 2019, but he is contending he’s not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

ESPN’s employee engagement efforts during pandemic break intranet records

The team acted quickly and found captivating outlets for delivering essential information.

By Brendan Gannon, PR Daily

Much like the sports world, ESPN’s Internal Communications team had to address COVID-19 swiftly and with little preparation. To keep employees engaged and informed and morale high, the sports entertainment company’s internal communications team relied on its intranet, Inside ESPN, and email. The latter ensured that even employees who didn’t visit the intranet would still be informed. The team tapped its company’s leaders to deliver informative messaging during the pandemic. This included more than 15 messages from ESPN’s president. It also featured a series on both the intranet and digital signage. Crisis-specific communications and trainings were also offered for employees, helping them cope and collaborate.

Rubio calls on Biden to allow Naval Academy graduate to play in NFL

By Olafimihan Oshin, The Hill

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is calling on President Biden to grant a waiver to allow Naval Academy graduate Cameron Kinley to play in the NFL. Rubio wrote a letter Sunday asking Biden to grant a waiver to delay Kinley’s service in the military, citing previous administrations that have enacted policies allowing athletes in the armed forces to pursue professional sports careers. “In years past, the U.S. Department of Defense has issued many waivers to allow athletes to temporarily delay their service to our nation to pursue their professional sports dreams,” Rubio wrote. “Unfortunately, Mr. Kinley seems to be the exception, and without reason.”

UEFA denies Munich’s request for rainbow lights at its Euro 2020 soccer stadium

By Matt Bonesteel, The Washington Post

UEFA on Tuesday denied a request by Munich officials to illuminate Allianz Arena in rainbow colors for Wednesday’s Euro 2020 group-stage finale between Germany and Hungary. Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter announced Sunday that the city planned to make the request for rainbow lights to protest a federal law passed last week in Hungary that prohibits sharing any content with minors that portrays homosexuality or sex reassignment, which Hungarian officials have described as a child-protection measure but human rights groups have denounced as anti-LGBT discrimination. In a statement Tuesday, UEFA said it “understands that the intention is also to send a message to promote diversity and inclusion.” But European soccer’s governing body reiterated its goal of political neutrality in denying Munich’s petition and proposed illuminating the stadium on other dates.

Nassib’s Coming Out Video Sets Precedent for NFL Player Communication

By Sophie Maerowitz, PR News

Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib made history, becoming the first active NFL player to come out publicly as gay. Far from simply a feel-good Pride Month PR story, Nassib’s statement signals a new era in sports communication and DEI messaging. Nassib made a video statement on his Instagram account, while the NFL’s official brand accounts mirrored and amplified the message. Like any good press statement, Nassib’s delivery was clear, simple and concise. “I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” he said in the video. “I’m a pretty private person, so I hope you guys know I’m not doing this for attention.”

Sports used to lead social progress. Carl Nassib shows it’s now the other way around.

Opinion by Drew Goins, The Washington Post

When writers for the Advocate magazine in 1975 went poking around Major League Baseball to see whether there might be a story in “players living gay lifestyles” during the first years of the gay liberation movement, they quickly met with a warning from staff at the Minnesota Twins: The writers had better stop “attempting to extend your perversion to an area of total manhood.” Has all that much changed in the sporting world in the 4½ decades since? To listen to the video that Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib posted Monday night on his Instagram, you’d certainly think so. “What’s up, people?” he said to the camera. “I’m at my house here in West Chester, Pa. I just wanna take a quick moment to say that I’m gay.” No juke, no flea-flicker, just “I’m gay.”

And Finally...

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