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Nuclear Energy's Green Glow

"Several of the nation's most prominent environmentalists have gone public with the message that nuclear power, long taboo among environmental advocates, should be reconsidered as a remedy for global warming," the New York Times' Felicity Barringer reports. And while environmentalists who support nuclear power as a supposedly "emission-free" alternative to fossil fuels are not representative of the larger movement, the buzz about them is mushrooming. "Their numbers are still small, but they represent growing cracks in what had been a virtually solid wall of opposition to nuclear power among most mainstream environmental groups," writes the Times.

Edelman's Rescue Plan for the PR Industry

Over the last four months, Richard Edelman, the CEO, president and chair of the privately-owned PR firm Edelman, has been busy blogging away about how the public standing of the PR industry is in free-fall.

In a May 2nd post, he was incredulous that blogger David Weinberger - who has been a consultant to Edelman's firm - doesn't think that PR people have a role in the blogosphere, because they are, by their very nature, propagandists.

A few weeks back, Edelman blogged about spending a weekend smarting after CNN/US president Jon Klein referred to "sophisticated corporate PR departments, marketers and politicians" as "propagandists," during his speech to the National Association of Broadcasters.

While it might seem self-evident to most people that the PR industry is in the propaganda business, these incidents led an agitated Edelman to propose a five-point plan to rescue the PR industry’s tarnished credentials.

Why Armstrong Williams Wants Us To Forgive and Forget

There's an old PR trick that if bad news can't be suppressed, its release should be stalled until late on a Friday afternoon or just before a holiday break. It's a trick that served the U.S. Department of Education well when, late on Friday April 15, it released its Office of Inspector General's damning final report into the $240,000 Armstrong Williams contract to promote the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation.

The strategy behind the late Friday afternoon news dump is simple: most media outlets will be squeezed for space to cover a late-breaking story, looming deadlines will ensure harried journalists don't have time to get much further than the executive summary, and by the time Monday rolls around, it will be seen as stale news by editors with the attention span of a gnat.

Reading the 20-page report, which was prompted by Greg Toppo's exposé on the Williams contract in USA Today, it's easy to see why the Education Department wanted to bury it. The report chronicles the deception, bungling and mismanagement behind the Williams contract.

Looking for Leads on an Environmental Story

Here's your chance to help with an important journalistic investigation. Former New York Times reporter Philip Shabecoff and his wife Alice are doing research about the links between environmental toxicants and the epidemic of children’s chronic illnesses in the United States today, and they're looking for some leads. The research will lead to a book for the general public. Beyond documenting the evidence arising from the new sciences, the Shabecoffs intend to tell stories about families and communities affected by corporate behavior. The Shabecoffs will try to ‘follow the money’ to explain government laxity.

The following are questions for which the Shabecoffs would appreciate responses or leads to sources of information:

Bush Wins Earth Day Greenwashing Award (If There Were One)

The greens are getting pounded politically, losing almost every national battle they fight, including the new energy bill. Today, on the 35th anniversary of Earth Day, they can't even beat George Bush at the PR game.

Thirty-five years ago 20 million Americans demonstrated, rallied, teach-in'd, lobbied, danced and partied for a healthy, ecologically sound planet on the very first Earth Day. This unprecedented and massive grassroots mobilization was followed by a flurry of green political reforms (supported by many Republicans), from the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency to the first Environmental Impact Statements and the first national clean air and clean water laws. Now, even though surveys show enviromentalism is more widespread and popular than ever, with citizens donating hundreds of millions of dollars each year to Washington DC's big green groups, the movement is a political basket case.

A Bumper Crop of Government-Produced "News": The USDA's Broadcast Media and Technology Center

"Beef trade with Japan and Canada was on the minds of producers at the annual National Cattlemen's Beef Association convention in San Antonio, Texas," a man's voice intones, as the television news segment opens with a shot of a slowly rotating sign reading "U.S. Premium Beef." The voice continues, "Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns addressed the gathering and afterward took questions from the media."