Sunday, September 06, 2009

PBS Illustrates How "Marketing" Really Works

When I was teaching journalism (circa, '84-'86 in the last Century), one of the readjustments to their thinking it was most difficult for students to grasp was the relationship of audience to the advertizing CorpoRats and the Corporat media.

Most folks untrained in media criticism will fiercely maintain that the "media" sell advertizers' products to consumers.

This is only tangentially true.

The "REAL" deals are the ones by which the Media sell "audience/eyes" to CorpoRats...A recent fund-raising letter from PBS to its corpoRat sponsors clarifies it all for you (via FAIR, from ATR):
PBS Sells 'Prime Demographic Groups to Underwriters'
09/05/2009 by Gabriel Voiles

A Tiny Revolution's John Caruso (9/5/09) caught an instance of the Public Broadcasting System "Putting the 'BS' in PBS" when they recently "took a break to blandish us thusly: 'If you are seeking a unique sponsorship opportunity for your business and want to reach a prime demographic group through multiple platforms email us today.'"

Reacting to the crass appeal for a California Bay Area underwriter, Caruso reminds the broadcasters: "C'mon, guys, we're sitting right here. Can't you at least do us the courtesy of being subtle about the fact that as far as you're concerned, we're nothing but pairs of eyes for corporate sponsors?"

Citing 15-year-old FAIR warnings of the hazards of such "enhanced underwriting," Caruso also remembers
a day not that long ago when PBS's purpose was to provide, you know, broadcasting services for the public. Now that they're just selling audiences to advertisers like the rest of the corporate media, they really should change the name—though I suppose "Supplier of Prime Demographic Groups to Underwriters through Multiple Platforms" doesn't quite have the same ring (and SPDGUMP doesn't exactly roll off the tongue either).
Caruso even has a suggested rewrite of their longtime "standard sponsorship message as well": "This program was made possible by contributions to your PBS station from Upwardly Mobile Middle Class Consumers Like You. Thank You! But seriously, we're just as happy getting our money from ExxonMobil." (Emphasis supplied. W.)
Pure Public Relations 101.

I have two modest shames in my journalistic career, for which I must atone: I, who prized myself on having an ear on the ground, never figured out that Abby Hoffman was bussing tables at at restaurant at which I frequently dined when working as the reporter for the Santa Fe Reporter in the early '70s; and I 'taught' media writing to theo-fascist mouthpiece and acute embarrassment Rod Dreher...

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