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Big media, advertising and misspelled names

The Brooklyn Paper
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Belated attention was paid Monday by the TV networks and big dailies to the Federal Communications Commission’s sellout of the public interest in allowing still more mega-media consolidation. The FCC’s action is likely to prove even a greater threat to both the democratic ideal of unfettered discussion and the capitalist notion of free commerce than Congress’ earlier media deregulation votes.

The FCC chairman went to great lengths to stifle discussion prior to Monday’s decision, scheduling only one public hearing (in California). Big media didn’t raise much of a ruckus about this overt suppression of debate, however, since it will be big media’s cash registers that will reap a fast, full harvest.

On matters affecting big media’s financial interest, debate is becoming an anachronism. It’s a shame the FCC commissioners have no shame.


It’s all advertising

Everybody needs to advertise. And almost everyone does — even if they don’t realize it.

I noticed a new campaign this week for Skin Cola — a non-carbonated, sugar-free drink. Now, if you’re going up against Pepsi and Coke, you’ve got to advertise. But what about Coke and Pepsi — or McDonalds and Burger King? Their brands are universally known and used, yet they can’t seem to spend enough to keep their names in front of our eyes and on our minds.

We used to run an ad-generating promotion that, updated, would be headlined, “The best reason to advertise in 2003 is 2004.”

Merchants who don’t advertise may, at worst, meet a premature demise; at least, they will likely fail to maximize their potential.

Some say they don’t advertise, but that’s usually not true. If they utilize a public relations specialist, flood the media with freebees or seed their markets with spin, that’s advertising — covert advertising.

You get your Brooklyn Paper each week because our advertisers use our pages in an open and above-board manner to promote their goods and services. When you patronize these advertisers, please tell them you saw their message here, in your local Brooklyn Paper.


Getting it right

An old newspaper adage goes, “I don’t care what you say about me in the newspaper — just spell my name right!”

I’d sometimes divine a new reporter’s accuracy quotient by hearing the reporter ask for the spelling of a source’s first name. Marianne, after all, could just as easily be Mary Ann.

People are rightfully concerned that their names appear correctly in The Paper — particularly a name that won’t appear all that often; a misspelled name can cloud those 15 minutes of fame and make a Google search problematic for eternity. Most often, however, it’s the substance of an article that will delight or rile.

It’s important for readers to call errors to our attention; even if an error in nuance does not merit a printed correction, knowledge of the questionable point can better inform future stories. A misspelled name, not corrected, can literally take on an identity of its own.

In the case of NY Times reporter Jayson Blair, who injected fiction in dozens of his reports, people felt calling the Times to complain would have been an exercise in futility. At The Brooklyn Paper, we want to hear your praise as well as your criticism.

Now, here’s my oops of the week: In last week’s column, I misspelled the name of The Paper’s early editor. It’s Beverly Cheuvront.


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