Jan 1 1991

Cold War Environmentalism

Reporting on Eastern European Pollution

The environment and the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe were two of last year’s hottest sto­ries. And the two issues came together in the aggressive, graphic reporting on the severe pollution behind the “Iron Curtain.” There was no dearth of coverage: In the ten major publications studied by Extra!, there were 37 stories on the subject in the nine months follow­ing the opening of the Berlin Wall. The articles were long, prominently displayed and featured attention- grabbing headlines: “Poland Left Choking on Its Own Wastes” (Boston Globe, 12/18/89); “East Bloc’s Environment a Nightmare” (Atlanta Constitution, 3/11/90). The imagery drove […]

Jan 1 1991

Rev. Wildmon Bites the Burger

Burger King capitulated to right-wing pressure by publishing a half-page ad in hundreds of newspapers (11/4-5/90): “Burger King wishes to go on recordas supporting traditional American values on television, especially the importance of the family…. We pledge to support such programs with our advertising dollars.” In return for the ad, Rev. Donald Wildmon’s Christian Leaders for Responsible Television (CLeaR-TV) called off a threatened boycott against the fast-food chain for sponsoring allegedly profane and anti-Christian TVprograms. “Burger King wanted to talk to us so fast that we just didn’t geta chance to hype the boycott,” remarked a CLeaR-TV spokesperson (New York […]

Jan 1 1991

The GE Boycott

A Story NBC Wouldn't Buy

When I got a call from NBC‘s Today show in June 1990, telling me they were interested in airing a story on consumer boycotts, naturally, as the editor of National Boycott News, I was enthusiastic. But I suspected there might be a problem when Amy Rosenberg from Today asked me for “the biggest boycott going on right now.” I already had a good idea, but I wanted to do a little more research before I gave her my answer. When I looked at major boycotts in terms of visibility, effectiveness, scope and public support, one stood out: the boycott of […]

Jan 1 1991

‘Arabs Stone Jewish Worshippers’…or Did They?

“Stones fell on Jews who…were simply praying peacefully at the Western Wall,” reported Dean Reynolds on Nightline (10/9/90). His version coincided with nearly all accounts of the Oct. 8 killing of some 17 Palestinians outside the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. CBS Evening News showed stones, thrown by Palestinians, flying over the Wailing Wall. What they failed to show, and what few journalists reported, is that the plaza below was virtually empty. Investigative reporter Michael Emery (Village Voice, (11/13/90) analyzed three separate videotapes of the massacre to show that Israeli forces fired into the crowd before any rocks were thrown […]

Jan 1 1991

Capitalist Tool, PR Executive’s Dream

Forbes magazine seems to be taking its slogan–“capitalist tool”–a bit too literally. In 1989 (6/26/89), Forbes printed a full-page house ad in its pages, soliciting insurance company advertising for a special section: “Clearly there has never been a time when it has been more critical for the insurance industry to tell its story…. Be part of that story. Advertise your company’s services in ‘Insurers Outnumbered,’ appearing in the Oct.16, 1989 issue of Forbes.” That issue of Forbes happened to feature a cover story attacking personal injury lawyers for winning money from the “outnumbered” insurance companies. The special section marked the […]