Monday, September 13, 2004

The Public Be Fooled

In another show of old-school Socialism creeping through the veins of members of Spain's government, La Mano Invisible has dug up this jewel printed in La Semana Digital, (both in Spanish). I'm not going to add any comments, instead I will just translate it for you all to read. If anybody out there studied public relations, and you'd be of good will towards Socialism in the 21st Century ('They MUST have learned something in 100 years, right?'), then this would be classic Phineas Taylor Barnum's famous "Let the public be fooled", one of three precursors to public relations as a tool for corporate communications (for those interested, followed by William Vanderbilt's defiant "The public be damned" stance, to end with the pioneer of modern day PR Ivy Lee, who concluded, "The public be informed". And that was about 1906. Highlights are mine, like the translation:

Zapatero vetoes publicity in digital media
The head of the government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has ordered that independent digital media not be included in institutional publicity campaigns.

September 13. During his last term in the opposition, the secretary-general of the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Party --Ed.) in Ferraz (street where PSOE headquarters are located --Ed.) showed his open disgust at the liberty taken by independent digital media. Back then already he predicted that if he would get to the Moncloa (PM's residence --Ed.) he would take measures he would see fit.

Something that was perceived back then by his team of advisers as a reaction to some hostile publicity, has converted into a personal decision which by no means carries unanimous support within the Moncloa. Important voices have advised him that it "is a profound contradiction" that the PSOE would inform the public through its own digital media, and would not accept the existence of media it could not control. These voices have indicated that this is an attack on the freedom of expression which will have consequences.

Facing these criticisms, the secretary of State for Communication, Miguel Barroso, supported the President's decision. Barroso maintains the thought that one must work with printed media which can be controlled, know the article's authors and excercise pressure through their editors. "Only in print media," he continues, "you can be informed beforehand of news that will be published and avoid that it reaches the hands of its readers". Out of the Moncloa, certain press chiefs at their departments have been ordered not to answer the phone when digital media ask for information.

However, in this debate, in which the head of government is irritated to such levels, the majority belongs to those, both in Moncloa as in Ferraz, who ask him to change his attitude. "If the PSOE isolates itself from new technologies," they insist, "it will pay for it. The answer to the critics is not to kill the messenger by suffocating its economic sources, but to maintain a policy of bigger involvement with these new media."

UPDATE: Marzo pointed out to me that Ferraz referred to the street in Madrid where PSOE headquarters are located, and not the town. Since adjusted.