PR intern candidates

Want To Be An AM:PM PR Intern?

AM:PM PR is seeking an ace intern interested in real-world, hands-on public relations responsibilities. From day 1, we include interns as part of our team. We offer meaningful work and value the diverse talents and skills new professionals bring to the table.

We are looking for students or graduates who share our core values, are smart and creative, good researchers and excellent writers. Interns need to take direction well and thrive with individual assignments.

Our ideal candidate has:

  • An understanding of the fundamentals of public relations
  • Strong writing and communications skills
  • Familiarity with social network platforms and review sites
  • Ability to multi-task, manage under pressure
  • The ability to think creatively
  • Have an interest in corporate communications
  • A desire to learn, work hard and take constructive criticism
  • The ability to self-manage and work independently or as part of a team

This is a paid internship and your responsibilities may include:

  • Media relations – drafting and pitching press releases
  • Tracking and analyzing media and blog coverage
  • Drafting blog posts and updating WordPress sites
  • Social media analysis and engagement
  • Reviewing and translating social and website analytics
  • Conducting qualitative research
  • Attending client meetings and coordinating projects
  • Administrative tasks

If you would like to be considered for the internship position at AM:PM PR, please email your resume and writing samples to info@ampmpr.com

Portland Business Alliance Business After Hours Hosted at AMPM PR headquarters

AM:PM PR Hosts Portland Business Alliance’s September After Hours Event

Who:

Come one, come all!

What:

Portland Business Alliance events  are among the highest-quality networking and professional development gatherings in the Portland region. Each month a different member hosts Business After Hours. These evening events offer attendees the opportunity to create new business relationships by networking in a relaxed setting that offers delicious appetizers, door prizes, and refreshments.

When:

September 12th, 5-7pm

Where:

AM:PM PR

2006 SE Clinton St.
Portland, OR 97206

Why:

Burrasca PDX Cyrkus Inc and Willamette Valley Pinot

It will be fun and worthwhile, of course. Also, this month’s raffle prizes include a magnum of Willamette Valley Vineyards 2012 Elton Pinot Noir donated AM:PM PR’s officemates/digital agency partner, Cyrkus Inc. and a $100 gift certificate for Portland’s best Tuscan soul food donated by AM:PM PR neighbor, Burrasca.

 

New Seasons and Fifty Licks Ice Cream Division Clinton

Thanks to our another generous neighbor and the friendliest store in town, we’ll be serving fresh fruit, mezze, beer and wine from New Seasons. And, just to sweeten the deal, Fifty Licks, will be sharing their famous ice cream as a sweet treat. That’s right. We like to spoil people that come visit us. It’s the neighborhood way.

Want to come? 

Learn more and register here:

 

 

2017: Best, Worst & Favorites from AM:PM PR’s Staff

What was the best campaign you saw in 2017?

Pat McCormick (PM) Big brands and companies can afford amazing, creative campaigns. I’m always impressed by the small brands that remain true to themselves and prevail against the big guys. My favorite local example from 2017 was Old Town Brewing’s defense of its trademarked logo – featuring the iconic leaping White Stag that people associate with Portland, against the onslaught of mega-brewing giant AB InBev trying to get rights to use that image through the City of Portland. The best gesture in the battle came from Rogue Ales – a much bigger Oregon craft brewing company. Rogue banned the Portland mayor, city lawyers and other “bureaucrats” from its pubs until the city abandoned its effort to license the image beer and alcohol giants. (P.S. Dan Keeney, a former colleague, is Old Town Brewing’s spokesman. He’s an exceptional PR strategist and a great friend of craft brewing.)

Allison McCormick (AM) – It’s a tie for me…

The Indivisible campaign has been awe inspiring to follow. The grassroots movement was started when former congressional staffers commiserated after the election of Donald Trump and decided to draft a guide they could share with all the progressives across the country that wanted to do something. Borrowing from the pages of the Tea Party playbook, The Google Doc guide laid out a roadmap for taking on Trump and the members of congress doing his bidding. It emphasizes starting locally and using focused advocacy tactics. Since the guide was first shared it has been downloaded more than two million times, at least 5,800 local groups have formed across the country and the energy sparked by the campaign is changing elections. Congrats, Doug Jones!

The #MeToo movement has been equally powerful in its swiftness and impact. Effecting every level of Hollywood and government, every industry, and interactions in every day life – young and old women alike are finding the courage through each other to stand up and stand together against harassment and misogyny. It makes me feel like I did when I first heard this song and saw this clip from Full Frontal with Samantha Bee:

Karly Tarsia (KT) – I’m not sure if this classifies as a campaign but the #MeToo movement along with Time’s Silence Breakers. Watching that spark on social media was both incredibly heart wrenching but also incredibly powerful. This year there has been so much noise on social media and in general it’s hard to say if any campaign has stood out but if #MeToo qualifies as that I think it’s the one that was the loudest and had one of the biggest impacts in society.

What was your favorite accomplishment (personal or professional) from this year?

PM – Marking 51 years of marriage. The accomplishment is really Donna’s. She’s delivered our seven children, endured all these years with me and still laughs at my jokes, even ones she’s tired of hearing.

AM – Hiring Karly Tarsia.

KT – Personally, getting my own place postgrad and moving in with one of my best friends. Professionally, getting hired as an Account Coordinator at AM:PM PR last spring.

What trend do you think was overhyped in 2017? 

PM – The most overused term in 2017 PR plans is “influencer” marketing. It’s a trending term, but the concept behind it isn’t really new. In marketing as well as in public policy advocacy, the importance of individuals and authorities who help shape people’s view on a product or an issue has been well understood. Digital tools have improved our ability to understand and reach those whose views influence others. At our old firm, we were charter members of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. For those interested in learning more about influencer marketing, here’s a link to the WOMMA guide – http://womma.org/free-womm-resources/

AM – Mom jeans.

Just. Stop.

KT – I feel like everything is beyond hyped now and is so in your face that it becomes overhyped very quickly. Doing makeup tutorials with unconventional products, foods that you can tell are just solely so you can post it on Instagram, unicorn-related everything. Everything feels so over the top you kind of wonder how it can catch on and then it spreads like wildfire and is everywhere.

http://metro.co.uk/2017/04/26/the-unicorn-trend-is-infantalising-us-all-and-it-needs-to-die-6597978/

What is your favorite memory from 2017?

PM – I have lots of great memories, but my trip to Orlando in October is likely most memorable. I got to spend five days at Disney World with Luca, my eighth grandchild to share a Disney adventure with me. Our trip coincided with the NWSL championship game and we got to watch the Portland Thorns, our amazing women’s professional soccer team, win the title in a tough-fought game. My next grandchild Disney adventure will be in May, going with Keeton to Disneyland. Another great memory coming soon.

AM – It’s a tough call between Michael Flynn’s guilty plea and the defeat of Roy Moore in Alabama.

KT – It’s hard to remember a specific moment that stood out for me in a year, but its all the small moments you don’t realize you loved until later. Being with my friends and laughing until we cry. Being with my family and watching my relationships evolve with them now that I’m an adult. Watching some of my best friends get married. Really realizing how lucky I am to live the life I do. I’m really trying to focus on that and be more grateful going into 2018.

Favorite 2017 guilty pleasure?

PM – Binge-watching The Crown.

AM – Flaunting my new lipstick and sharing more of them as gifts.

KT – Hands down memes. I know I should stop tagging my friends in them but I really can’t (sorry Lauren and Megan). Also podcasts, I can never get enough.

What was your favorite app you used in 2017?

PM – For the last couple of years, Sleep Cycle has been a favorite app. It tracks my sleep and offers a gentle wake-up when I’m easiest to wake in my sleep cycle. This year I added a companion app called Life Cycle. It tracks all my activities throughout the day. I’ve come to appreciate Apple’s efforts to track fitness and health using my watch and phone. It’s made me much more conscious of my good habits, and more sensitive about the bad ones.

AM – The Apple Podcast app. Hands down.

KT – It’s a toss up between Apple’s Podcast app and Snapchat. But if I have to choose I’ll say Apple Podcast.

We did a similar post last year for predictions in 2017, what was the most surprising thing you felt that happened this year?

PM – It’s tempting to talk about politics because I’ve never experienced such poisonous rhetoric and distortions of conventional mores in public life. For those troubled by the lack of civility in political discourse, I recommend reading my friend James Hoggan’s book, “I’m Right and You’re an Idiot,” published presciently at the beginning of the 2016 election year. In my real life, the most enjoyable surprise of 2017 was getting to watch our adventurous Grandson Haxton start walking, then running – and smiling a smile that melts your heart.

AM – It might be Roy Moore’s loss, but this year has made it hard to remember anything farther than a few days in the past.

KT – Allison and I have talked about this so much and really its everything. When we started answering these questions we both struggled because so much has happened in a year, it’s hard to digest what happened even a month ago. I had to go back and look through different huge events and be like, “Oh yeah that did happen”. Things that would historically define a year feel like they are happening weekly and it’s hard to keep up and remember everything, whether that be in pop culture or politics. Personally, and as a civilian, I feel that so much has happened I could have never predicted this is where we would be ending 2017. It is both hopeful and terifitiyng to see where we will be this time next year.

What are you looking forward to most in 2018?

PM – Besides my May trip to Disneyland with Keeton, I’m looking forward taking Donna back to Maui for some R&R. Allison and Juan gave her a gift certificate for a restaurant we like on Maui, so using it will require us to go there.

AM – Robert Muller’s investigation outcomes and a trip to Spain with my husband.

KT – Turning a quarter of a century old! Plus a few trips I’ve planned.

Yosegaki Hinomaru Flag Japanese Heirloom WWII peace Obon Society Media Attention

WWII Vet Returns Lost Heirloom and Receives International Media Attention

marvin strombo with flag

93-year-old Marvin Strombo never imagined the level of media attention his trip to Japan to return a lost Hinomaru heirloom flag would attract.

When Strombo was 19-years-old when he fought as a Marine in Saipan during World War II. Earlier this summer, and at age 93, Strombo performed one final mission of reconciliation – personally returning the lost heirloom he acquired while serving as a Marine to the awaiting family of Sadao Yasue, a Japanese Lance Corporal killed in action in Saipan in late June of 1944. When Strombo and fellow Marines came across Yasue’s body they found his Yosegaki Hinomaru.

Referred to as a “good luck flag” by American soldiers, the Japanese Hinomaru was often taken as a war souvenir from the fallen. The flag features the familiar white background and Rising Sun in the center and surrounded by Japanese characters. These flags were traditionally presented to a man prior to his deployment in the Japanese armed forces. Relatives, neighbors and friends would write their names along with good luck messages on the field of the flag.

“Taking the flag, kind of, bothered me because it’s so special that it’s like a part them. The memory has never left me” Strombo shared. “He had it tucked into his coat and I barely saw it. I just about didn’t take it, but then I thought – at least if I take it there would be a chance I could get it back to who it should belong.”

Strombo had long desired to return the flag, but didn’t know how to go about it. It wasn’t until visiting a Japanese and Culture class at the University of Montana last year that Strombo learned what the Japanese writing on the flag was and what the flags meant to the families of the fallen.

Strombo’s experience traveling to Japan to return the flag garnered national and international media attention, and the story has helped more families and veterans to connect with Obon Society to return lost artifacts.

Here is the story as it was covered by PBS News Hour:

AM:PM PR was proud to assist Obon Society with their effort to promote the commemoration of this great act of reconciliation. To support Obon Society, please visit: http://obonsociety.org/donate/

Bill Lascher's book tells the story of heroic journalists in WWII

Author, Bill Lascher, talks WWII Journalism Heroics at AM:PM PR

Portland author Bill Lascher was nominated by Literary Arts’ Oregon Book Awards program as a finalist in the general nonfiction category for his debut, “Eve of a Hundred Midnights.” While he didn’t win the award, his painstakingly researched book has received critical acclaim and rave reviews.

At an AM:PM PR gathering in his honor, Lascher’s presented the story of Mel and Annalee Jacoby’s mad dash to preserve their lives after Japan invaded the Philippines during WWII.

Eve of a Hundred Midnights is the unforgettable true story of two married journalists on an island-hopping run for their lives across the Pacific after the Fall of Manila during World War II—a saga of love, adventure, and danger. On New Year’s Eve, 1941, just three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese were bombing the Philippine capital of Manila, where journalists Mel and Annalee Jacoby had married just a month earlier. The couple had worked in China as members of a tight community of foreign correspondents with close ties to Chinese leaders; if captured by invading Japanese troops, they were certain to be executed. Racing to the docks just before midnight, they barely escaped on a freighter—the beginning of a tumultuous journey that would take them from one island outpost to another. While keeping ahead of the approaching Japanese, Mel and Annalee covered the harrowing war in the Pacific Theater—two of only a handful of valiant and dedicated journalists reporting from the region.

The Book is now available in paperback wherever books are sold. Click here to listen to Bill Lascher preview his book on the Me And My Friends Podcast.

coolest cooler

Agreement to Recoup Funds from Cooler Project Gets Icy Reception

Last month the Oregonian reported that the Oregon Department of Justice reached a settlement with Portland-based Coolest Cooler project over complaints the company hasn’t delivered its crowdfunding rewards to expectant backers in a timely manner. The project is currently three years behind schedule and has failed to ship over 21,000 of its $200 coolers. The new ruling suggests backers may be entitled to a $20 refund from Coolest Cooler, or 10% of their original investment.

If it sounds crazy, at least it’s sanctioned crazy. After numerous highly publicized projects have failed to deliver on time, many backers now know what they’re getting into when supporting a crowdfunding project – but that doesn’t mean backers won’t become angry when a project fails to meet their expectations. If expectations aren’t managed properly, this may create a potential crisis for an entrepreneur hoping to leverage their project into a business.

oregonian coolest cooler

Read More:

In these types of delay scenarios, rewards-based crowdfunding platforms (Kickstarter, Indiegogo, etc.) go to great lengths to distance the company from responsibility. In its terms of use, Indiegogo makes it clear the platform is merely a ‘venue’ to enable the act of crowdfunding. Additionally, these ‘venues’ help shield failed projects from responsibility for delivery failure when backers are repeatedly told they are “pledging” funds or getting a “perk” or getting a “reward” – versus simply purchasing a product. This messaging is repeated in various forms throughout the communication channels of these platforms.  (For more, view this blog titled: Kickstarter is not a store).

Here’s my question – shouldn’t a crowdfunding project work hard to ensure its potential evangelists (i.e., ‘backers’) are treated fairly and compassionately? I dare say, they should be coddled. Most communication professionals would nod in agreement (with the possible exception of the ‘coddled’ part), but most crowdfunding project creators are not communication professionals and I’ve observed that they do a lot of funny things to avoid confrontation.

My recently completed grad school terminal project explored communication practices in rewards-based crowdfunding campaigns. I chose to study crowdfunding because the lifecycle of its business model is like a regular business on hyper-drive. In the span of a few months you can observe a business evolve from the fruition of an idea to the delivery of its product, and all of its communication efforts (or lack thereof) are recorded on the crowdfunding platform, on its social media platforms, in media stories and within forums.

In the coming weeks I’ll share some of what I’ve learned on the AM:PM PR blog. I believe this information will be of interest to communication professionals and may help to inform effective business communication practices.

Background.
Contemporary crowdfunding platforms enable entrepreneurs to bring their dreams into fruition in a manner that was unthinkable 10 years ago. If an entrepreneur can connect to the internet, they can communicate with nearly a billion English speakers. Additionally, new technology enables entrepreneurs to reach potential consumers that would otherwise be impossible for anyone outside of large population centers. Today, an entrepreneur living in rural America could conceive a business idea and launch a crowdfunding campaign using free technology available on the internet to promote and fund it.

The entrepreneur may choose from a range of crowdfunding and social media platforms to tell their unique story, combining narrative with photos, videos and written testimonials. Social media and search engine optimization offered by crowdfunding websites, combined with desktop or mobile friendly browsing allows easy access for potential consumers. Communication-centric technology enables project creators to post updates and share links to these updates on separate social platforms to reach new networks; users can, in turn, share with their additional networks, expanding the reach of the project. Interested consumers pledge directly using safe financial technologies offering the secure transfer of funds.

In rewards-based crowdfunding campaigns, entrepreneurs include deliverables to encourage investors to pledge varying levels of funds to support the effort. In the event the project is successfully funded, the entrepreneur can post messages of appreciation to everyone that came together to support their campaign. The entrepreneur, in turn, uses those funds and begins to work toward actualizing their vision and to fulfill pledges to backers. However, challenges arise when the project creator is unable to fulfill campaign promises in a direct, timely manner – and responds to these challenges with inconsistent, combative or unclear communication – or, in the worst case, no communication at all. This lack of communication creates a communication crisis that threatens brand and reputation and is entirely avoidable with strategic communication planning.

To be continued…

Save the Date: Mike’s Summer Bookclub With Emil DeAndreis

On Tuesday, July 11th we’re meeting at AM:PM PR at 6 p.m. to discuss “The Immortal Irishman” by Timothy Egan. The book details the life and times of Thomas Francis Meagher, who squeezed more life into his 43-years of life than most families cobble together in three generations.

The next title in my summer bookclub is Hard To Grip, by Emil DeAndreis. Emil will actually be visiting AM:PM PR to discuss his book and to answer questions. If you’d like to purchase in advance of the signing you can do so at Powell’s Books (or wherever books are sold).

Emil recently published a popular essay titled, “How RA Alters Your Young Adult Years.”

Please join us Wednesday, August 9 at 6 p.m. to meet Emil and to learn more about his book and his life experience.

hard to grip smallAbout Hard to Grip by Emil DeAndreis
In 2008, after a record-breaking career as a D1 college baseball player, Emil DeAndreis’ life seemed set: He was twenty-three, in great shape, and had just been offered a contract to pitch professionally in Europe. Then his body fell apart. It started with elbow stiffness, then swelling in his wrist. Soon, his fingers were too bloated to grip a baseball. He had Rheumatoid Arthritis, a disease that causes swelling and eventual deterioration of the joints, mostly targeting old people and women. Hard To Grip tells the story of a young man’s body giving out when he needs it most. It chronicles an ascending sports career, the ups and downs of life in the NCAA, and the challenges of letting go of pro baseball due to a dehumanizing condition. In a series of humorous anecdotes, Emil takes the reader on his bittersweet journey of a young man’s having to grapple with an “old woman’s disease.” From striking out future major leaguer All Stars, to sitting in support groups; from breaking university records, to barely making it up the stairs; from language barriers with Chinese healers to figuring out how to be employed as a vegetable, this book unveils the disease with humor and fearless honesty through the eyes of an unlikely victim. This memoir is an honest, rueful and at times hilarious story about learning to come to terms with a new reality, and an inspiring account of how Emil learned to run with the disease and not from it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our September title is: Eve of a Hundred Midnights by Bill Lascher 

eve of a hundred midnightsEve of a Hundred Midnights is the unforgettable true story of two married journalists on an island-hopping run for their lives across the Pacific after the Fall of Manila during World War II—a saga of love, adventure, and danger. On New Year’s Eve, 1941, just three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese were bombing the Philippine capital of Manila, where journalists Mel and Annalee Jacoby had married just a month earlier. The couple had worked in China as members of a tight community of foreign correspondents with close ties to Chinese leaders; if captured by invading Japanese troops, they were certain to be executed. Racing to the docks just before midnight, they barely escaped on a freighter—the beginning of a tumultuous journey that would take them from one island outpost to another. While keeping ahead of the approaching Japanese, Mel and Annalee covered the harrowing war in the Pacific Theater—two of only a handful of valiant and dedicated journalists reporting from the region.

Bill Lascher is a local Portland author and irregular Speakeasy attendee. He’ll join us during the second week of September. More details to come!

Mark Geary and Gráinne Hunt to Perform at AM:PM PR

We’re delighted to announce one of Ireland’s finest songwriters – Mark Geary – is returning to perform at AM:PM PR June 27th for a “Living Room” concert in AM:PM PR’s living room, located at 2006 SE Clinton. Doors at 6:30 p.m., $10 suggested donation recommended, but not required.

Mark is touring to promote his upcoming 5th studio release titled, The Fool. In a recent piece writing for RTE 1, he explains, “I’ve always been the fool.” While we’re not too sure about that, we do know you’d be a fool to miss this intimate performance, featuring frequent musical partner, Gráinne Hunt.

RSVP with Karly if you’d like to join.

In the meantime – check out his new single titled, Battle of Troy.

More.
Dublin-native Mark Geary began his career in NYC’s East Village performing at the acclaimed Sin-é cafe with artists including his friend, Jeff Buckley. Time Out called Geary, “… one of the East Village’s favorite adopted sons.”

Over the last 20 years Geary has toured across Europe, the US and Australia, and has shared the stage with Glen Hansard, The Swell Season, The Frames, Josh Ritter, Bell X1, Coldplay, Elvis Costello, The Pretenders and Joe Strummer, to name a few.

Critics describe Geary as the “quintessential singer-songwriter” and his records have been hailed as encapsulating boisterous joy – and gentle, delicate moments evoking comparisons to artists including Van Morrison, John Lennon, Elliott Smith and Richard Thompson.

His body of work features 5 studio albums, 2 live recordings and collaborations including the release of a charity version of his song ‘Christmas Biscuits’ with Glen Hansard in aid of St Vincent De Paul in Ireland. In 2005 he scored the film Loggerheads, followed by Steel City (2006) and TriBeCa Film Festival favorite, Sons of Perdition (2010).

Mike’s Summer Book Club

Summer is right around the bend, and for me, that means it’s reading season.

This blog is to announce I’m kicking off a summer book club (mostly to incentivize myself to read titles I’ve been begrudgingly putting off due to grad school). And while I’ll have to stuff Games of Thrones and Harry Potter onto the back shelf just a little bit longer, the following titles will be paired with interesting guest speakers to accompany what’s most likely to be engaging and spirited conversation!

About.
The plan is to meet up once per month to discuss a title. We’ll do it in the office, as with our Speakeasy and with snacks and beverages provided. We’ll kick each event off at 6 p.m. to give people more time to unwind after a long day. I have three guest speakers lined up. I’ll even turn on the a/c!

Here are the titles – dates and times to follow soon, but get cracking on the first – we’ll do the craic’ing in July (Irish joke. Not funny).


July: The Immortal Irishman by Timothy Egan

immortal irishThe Immortal Irishman is the Irish-American story, with all its twists and triumphs, is told through the improbable life of one man. A dashing young orator during the Great Famine of the 1840s, in which a million of his Irish countrymen died, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony. He escaped and six months later was heralded in the streets of New York — the revolutionary hero, back from the dead, at the dawn of the great Irish immigration to America. Meagher’s rebirth in America included his leading the newly formed Irish Brigade from New York in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil War — Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg. Twice shot from his horse while leading charges, left for dead in the Virginia mud, Meagher’s dream was that Irish-American troops, seasoned by war, would return to Ireland and liberate their homeland from British rule. The hero’s last chapter, as territorial governor of Montana, was a romantic quest for a true home in the far frontier. His death has long been a mystery to which Egan brings haunting, colorful new evidence.

In addition to a discussion, we’ll have a thought leader from the Portland chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians to share news of fundraising efforts for Portland’s Famine Memorial – currently the only such memorial located on the West Coast.

 

August: Hard to Grip by Emil DeAndreis

hard to grip small

In 2008, after a record-breaking career as a D1 college baseball player, Emil DeAndreis’ life seemed set: He was twenty-three, in great shape, and had just been offered a contract to pitch professionally in Europe. Then his body fell apart. It started with elbow stiffness, then swelling in his wrist. Soon, his fingers were too bloated to grip a baseball. He had Rheumatoid Arthritis, a disease that causes swelling and eventual deterioration of the joints, mostly targeting old people and women. Hard To Grip tells the story of a young man’s body giving out when he needs it most. It chronicles an ascending sports career, the ups and downs of life in the NCAA, and the challenges of letting go of pro baseball due to a dehumanizing condition. In a series of humorous anecdotes, Emil takes the reader on his bittersweet journey of a young man’s having to grapple with an “old woman’s disease.” From striking out future major leaguer All Stars, to sitting in support groups; from breaking university records, to barely making it up the stairs; from language barriers with Chinese healers to figuring out how to be employed as a vegetable, this book unveils the disease with humor and fearless honesty through the eyes of an unlikely victim. This memoir is an honest, rueful and at times hilarious story about learning to come to terms with a new reality, and an inspiring account of how Emil learned to run with the disease and not from it.

Emil will be joining us during the second week of August. More details to come!

 

September: Eve of a Hundred Midnights by Bill Lascher 

eve of a hundred midnightsEve of a Hundred Midnights is the unforgettable true story of two married journalists on an island-hopping run for their lives across the Pacific after the Fall of Manila during World War II—a saga of love, adventure, and danger. On New Year’s Eve, 1941, just three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese were bombing the Philippine capital of Manila, where journalists Mel and Annalee Jacoby had married just a month earlier. The couple had worked in China as members of a tight community of foreign correspondents with close ties to Chinese leaders; if captured by invading Japanese troops, they were certain to be executed. Racing to the docks just before midnight, they barely escaped on a freighter—the beginning of a tumultuous journey that would take them from one island outpost to another. While keeping ahead of the approaching Japanese, Mel and Annalee covered the harrowing war in the Pacific Theater—two of only a handful of valiant and dedicated journalists reporting from the region.

Bill Lascher is a local Portland author and irregular Speakeasy attendee. He’ll join us during the second week of September. More details to come!

Homeland-Sock-Puppets

Momentum Shift: The Fake News Problem and Who Is Working to Fix it

Mounting criticism for enabling the spread of fake news during the 2016 presidential campaign has pressured Google, Twitter and Facebook and others to get involved in dispelling and discrediting fake stories.

An April 6 Facebook blog outlined three approaches the platform would use to halt the spread of misinformation and false news:

  • disrupting economic incentives because most false news is financially motivated;
  • building new products to curb the spread of false news; and
  • helping people make more informed decisions when they encounter false news.

Like the last bullet point, Google is also tapping into its user base to identify and flag fake news stories. Wired reports, “the company will roll out an expanded feedback form for reporting inappropriate snippets, search results, and autocomplete suggestions.” Additionally, the company has made tweaks to its algorithm to remove or hide blatantly fake stories from appearing at the top if its searches. On some of the more popular conspiracy theories, like 9/11 being an inside job, the platform includes snippets from credible sources debasing some of the wilder claims.

The Guardian reports that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales will create a new community combining journalists with volunteer contributors to combat the fake news problem. The crowdfunded platform, titled Wikitribune, was inspired by Kelly Anne Conway’s remarks about ‘alternative facts’ and will initially be UK-centric.

Twitter is well known for enabling legions of bots to increase the spread and reach of fake news stories, and is used by foreign actors including Russia and ISIS to do the same. Twitter is also used by the President of the United States to share misinformation and doublespeak in an effort to confuse people or shift media attention from the misdeeds of his administration. The platform has been known to ban extremists like Charles Johnson that spread hateful content.

Foreign Threat

The most intentional and effective disinformation threat comes from foreign governments like Russia, a country with a tight grip over its own broadcast media and a history of using propaganda for dubious means.

The New York Times reports that Russia hosts massive buildings full of government-funded internet trolls that exist solely to sow confusion in democratic societies. Articles from reputable media sources have demonstrated Russia’s strategy to use soft power to influence its political ambitions in regions including: the Baltic states, the Balkans, Britain, Ukraine, The United States, The Netherlands, Sweden, France, Germany and recently fears have grown of interference in Mexico.

Western democracies have been noticeably slow to identify the source of these problems, and most efforts have been anemic. Addressing fake news is challenging in that it comes from multiple sources and for different reasons. Organizations including EU Mythbusters, EU East Stratcom Task Force, NATO Stratcom, and stopfake.org exist to challenge politically-funded fake news organizations directly, but often tackle the exciting headlines and sophisticated efforts of their adversaries with a dull, academic approach. The existing network of fake news capabilities is defeating by comparison.

Cue the sad trombone.

The Fake News Business

Hostile foreign governments are not the only curators of fake content. Enterprising capitalists from every region of the world and every segment of the political spectrum have learned they can drive users to their websites with salacious, hyperbolic and fanatical (mostly political) headlines and content. Reputable media organizations uncovered how fake news creators were able to use social platforms to spread fictional content to rile up a base of gullible web users, and social media accounts offered the perfect medium to spread these stories. These visits lead to clicks on advertisements leading to a monetary incentive to create more fake news.

Examples:

Profile of fake news creator:
how a fake news creator makes money

Inside a Fake News Sausage Factory: ‘This Is All About Income’:

a fake news sausage factory

This is how Facebook’s fake-news writers make money:

how Facebook fake news users make money

How to Stop the Spread of Fake News

A more concerted effort between Western businesses, governments and academics will strengthen the defense and help nullify the negative effects of misinformation campaigns, but a more proactive effort is needed to keep bad actors from continuing to dilute faith in democracy through propaganda and disinformation.

Sadly, with its current administration lacking all credibility due to countless examples of Russian interference and blatant lies emanating from the executive office, the United States government is not in a position to take a leadership role in this effort. But that doesn’t mean its citizens cannot be informed, and I strongly encourage everyone to explore this topic (using credible sources, of course).

I’ll end this blog with 10 tips Facebook offered to help its users identify fake news in their feeds. This list can be applicable to most media sources.

  1. Be skeptical of headlines. False news stories often have catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation points. If shocking claims in the headline sound unbelievable, they probably are.
  2. Look closely at the URL. A phony or look-alike URL may be a warning sign of false news. Many false news sites mimic authentic news sources by making small changes to the URL. You can go to the site to compare the URL to established sources.
  3. Investigate the source. Ensure that the story is written by a source that you trust with a reputation for accuracy. If the story comes from an unfamiliar organization, check their “About” section to learn more.
  4. Watch for unusual formatting. Many false news sites have misspellings or awkward layouts. Read carefully if you see these signs.
  5. Consider the photos. False news stories often contain manipulated images or videos. Sometimes the photo may be authentic, but taken out of context. You can search for the photo or image to verify where it came from.
  6. Inspect the dates. False news stories may contain timelines that make no sense, or event dates that have been altered.
  7. Check the evidence. Check the author’s sources to confirm that they are accurate. Lack of evidence or reliance on unnamed experts may indicate a false news story.
  8. Look at other reports. If no other news source is reporting the same story, it may indicate that the story is false. If the story is reported by multiple sources you trust, it’s more likely to be true.
  9. Is the story a joke? Sometimes false news stories can be hard to distinguish from humor or satire. Check whether the source is known for parody, and whether the story’s details and tone suggest it may be just for fun.
  10. Some stories are intentionally false. Think critically about the stories you read, and only share news that you know to be credible.

Source: facebook.com

For more in-depth guidelines visit this piece from Elia Powers, PHD.