Media Mash: A Compilation of Media Musings

The PBS Name Game -- Media hysteria overflowsThere is nothing that irks the Masher more than manufactured hysteria. A recent case was the incredible ballyhoo about local PBS stations making their membership lists available to list brokers for rental, like thousands of other nonprofits do. Low and behold, the Democratic Party rented some of those names, along with dozens of other lists. The Republicans could have rented them too -- a point the media apparently could not grasp -- but these were not lists the Republicans found useful. There was outrage. Republicans in Congress screamed like there was an assault on the republic.This is partisan politics at its worst. The press dutifully reported this balderdash with nary a critical eye. Depressingly, editorials, even at the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle, chimed in, wringing their hands. Now PBS president Ervin S. Duggan has sent out an advisory strongly urging stations to prohibit the renting of lists to political groups.Grow up guys. We're all adults. This is all pathetic. Direct mail is still one of the few relatively inexpensive ways that nonprofit and advocacy groups can reach people and raise money. List rental provides needed revenue and supports free speech. If Republicans don't want the stations to rent their lists, give them more money. Despite the annoying phone calls and the trees cut down, direct-mail fund raising is a necessary and important aspect of a healthy democracy. If you don't want a mailing, drop it in the wastebasket. It takes two seconds.Saving Those Trees: New trend of online fund raising and shopping for good causesSpeaking of direct mail, there is a sea of change underway in the world of fund raising, as many are scrambling to raise dough without the huge expense of, yes, list rentals, design, paper, printing and postage. The theory is that sooner rather than later, most people will go online to make contributions to their favorite groups. On-line players are positioning themselves to be the gateway for your personal philanthropy and as well as your socially responsible shopping activities, where a small piece of the action will be contributed to a good cause. Among those angling for this turf include the on-line behemoth AOL, which recently announced its nonprofit portal.In a recent poll quoted by the Wall Street Journal, 40 percent of households would give preference to a merchant supporting a cause, when choosing between two similar products. So get ready for the onslaught. In the first stage, groups like Working Assets Long Distance have created Shopforchange.com where 5 percent of the purchase is given to a range of liberal to truly progressive groups. Co-op America is beta testing Greenpagestore.com along with a batch of socially responsible co-sites such as sweatshops.org and boycotts.org. More mainstream operations like Shop4charity.com will be competing for your dollars, while companies like Shop2Give.com will quickly link a customized shopping mall to your site and a percentage of the purchase will go to your own organization. With cash in play, incentives are bound to proliferate. Clickrewards will provide frequent flyer miles to your organization's financial supporters as they did for the World Wildlife Fund in a campaign on Yahoo. If you are like the Masher, you still might want to take out your check book and write a check to your favorite troublemaking group. It's not likely that the best grassroots groups are going to have their shopping malls humming very soon.Sex and the Still Single SalonAfter Salon's high-pitched publicity period prior to their IPO (or Dutch Auction, if you please), things have been pretty quiet. That's unfortunate. Salon's IPO success story was distorted by a media made stupid by numerous excessive IPOs where greedy insiders get to run off with the big bucks. This is what the media thinks is high drama. But Salon's IPO was successful and with the Hambrecht open IPO model the company is valued closer to its intrinsic value, unlike other Internet companies with grossly distorted valuations. The Masher calls it a success since Salon raised $40 million with a content model, a high burn rate and no conceivable future profitability. The conventional wisdom, of course, is that Salon wants to get married and is waiting for a suitor, someone to buy the brand so the key players and investors can cash out and breathe a sigh of relief. Salon can't go at its present pace for very long before it will have to trim its sails. To keep the traffic coming, Salon, always highly sexed, seems to have raised its temperature even higher. Along with scads of JFK Jr. material, the Salon line-up seems pretty raunchy. Don't misunderstand. The Masher finds Salon consistently entertaining and gets a kick out of some of the sex articles. But one wonders if it is a fact of online publishing life that to keep the traffic warm you have to generate a lot of heat, especially with the Salon banner ad pulsating overhead on many pages: Click here for "Jennifer Lopez's Abundant Butt."To give you a taste: Salon has a current series in its Urge Section on Mondays and Thursdays called: "Nancy Chan: Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl." Episode Two was entitled "The Just in Time Orgasm."Other recent Salon offerings include:* Actress Comes Clean: Porn Stardom a Dirty Rumor* Not Tonight Dear, I'm Starring in "Glory Hole Pigs"Why many white-collar men are moonlighting as gay porn stars* Playboy's Miss August Tips the Scales of Centerfold History* T &A paid for my B.A.Stripping my way through college beat the hell out of working for Starbucks* Sex Secrets Of The Stars! A Taoist pimping astrologer offers a seduction plan to make each sign your helpless love slave* Girl Talk: Are frank online discussions of blow jobs and masturbation empowering teen age girls or turning them into Lolitas?* And the Masher's favorite...Brandishing a Limp Hot Dog People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal's (PETA) curvy spokeswoman claims eating meet leads to impotenceThe Masher is quite sure Salon will be happy with this item. Free publicity for their hottest material: www.salon.com.Eyes Wide Open. What Did You See?Speaking of sex, the Masher is somewhat astounded that the Kubrick finale, Eyes Wide Shut, has become a giant national projection screen for relationships between the sexes. Rarely does a movie produce such strikingly different points of view from reviewers and often hugely different experiences between men and women and lots of talk among the cognesnti on the coasts. The Masher thought the movie worth seeing, but thinks that Stanley Kubrick should have gotten out more. The movie is very much stuck in time, not surprising since it comes from a 1920s novella. The Tom Cruise character seems ossified by old male values in contrast to the more modern, complex and sophisticated Nicole Kidman character. The Masher has read a number of reviews about how the orgy scene was the most unsexy in film. Excuse me. Where have the reviewers seen all these previous scintillating orgy scenes? Not in mainstream films. Readers, help me. A bunch of people lying around screwing does not make for exciting filmmaking. That's one reason why porn films are often such a snooze.KPFA Follow-up:In a major KPFA/Pacifica development, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Wednesday, July 28 that a proposal to sell Berkeley radio station KPFA is expected to come before the Executive Committee of KPFA's governing Pacifica Foundation. Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources close to the crisis told the Chronicle that Pacifica's seven-member executive committee would meet by phone on Wednesday and were expected to vote on the sale. The executive committee is drawn from members of Pacifica's 14-person board of directors. The newspaper added: "Three sources said a majority of the committee appear inclined to support a sale." One day later, Pacifica's gesture to reopen the station and let staffers back in was clouded with suspicion. Given the media-glitz nature of Pacifica's action (they notified the press of the reopening before addressing it with stafffers), KPFA supporters are wondering: Is the reopening merely a cover-up for an impending sale?For more information on the KPFA crisis, go to: http://www.savepacifica.net and http://www.radio4all.org/freepacifica. For more details on the overall issue check out Chris Thompson's excellent reporting from the East Bay Express in this week's AlterNet at http://alternettest.wpengine.com/PublicArchive/Thompson730.htmlJoe Wood -- Also find on AlterNet a passionate personal essay about the loss of Joe Wood and the lack of media attention on his disappearence, penned by Robin Kelly. http://alternettest.wpengine.com/PublicArchive/Kelly730.html.IGC -- As was mentioned last week, the progressive online isp IGC made a deal with MindSpring to provide its Internet access. List services will be posted free by Topica Inc. IGC will devote its energy to online services and training for activists and nonprofit professionals. IGC promises better service with the changeover.

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