Monday, September 25, 2006

Behind the Propaganda Curtain

This is a follow-up of my earlier post about the unintentionally funny RIAA scare video. As I noted in that post, Spanier embarrasses Penn State with his appearance in the video. The propaganda portal Penn State Live recently featured a press release concerning the video. Here is the lede from the release.
In November 2003 Penn State kicked off a nationwide movement among colleges and universities to offer legal music downloading services to students. Now, three years later, the University Park campus is featured in parts of a new Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) video on the subject, available for viewing at online.
Nary a mention of Spanier here or in the entire release. In fact, the only Penn State administrator quoted in the release is Sam Haldeman, the Napster program coordinator for the University's Information Technology Services office, who is at best a mid level bureaucrat. Since as we all know Spanier is a publicity hog, I take this as evidence that Spanier wants to disassociate himself from this debacle.

Now you may say that if this were so, the University would have simply ignored the video. However, since Spanier is in the pocket of the RIAA that is not an option. In addition simply hoping that no one notices is not Penn State's approach to damage control. Here is how Penn State flack Bill Mahon explains it.
A different situation faces such schools as Penn State, so well known nationally and with so many far-flung alumni that what happens -- good or bad -- gets magnified attention.[...]

When it happens, "just communicate as much as possible, as quickly as you can," said Mr. Mahon, assistant vice president for university relations. "For one thing, you're not going to hide it, and there's no reason to hide it.

"You might as well put it out first."

Penn State tries to put it out first and, of course, hopes that their spin will become conventional wisdom.

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