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How the Inventor of Instant Replay Changed American Culture Forever
by J. Bonasia

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Photo credit: NHPR

The great television impresario Tony Verna passed away this month from leukemia at age 81 in Palm Desert, Calif., after producing many of the biggest televised events in American history.

Verna’s five decades in the TV business included directing five Super Bowls, two Olympic Games, 12 Kentucky Derbies, the famed Live Aid global concert in 1985, Pope John Paul’s TV special, and numerous NBA Championships and Stanley Cup Finals.

Despite these landmark achievements, history will remember Verna as the inventor of TV’s instant replay. By launching this rather innocuous advance, Tony Verna arguably helped change the face of American culture forever.

Verna was a young CBS sports producer assigned to cover the annual Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia on Dec. 7, 1963. He had developed a new production trick that he wanted to try out on viewers during the big rivalry, which featured star quarterback Roger Staubach playing for Navy.

Verna’s breakthrough technology initially ran into technical problems. When he tried airing replays several times in the game’s first half, the designated tape would only show prior clips from “I Love Lucy” or soap commercials. Finally, Verna was able to make the tape loop work correctly, and our world has never been the same since.

Sadly, no video record of that special game exists today. Verna’s broadcast showed the world’s first instant replay of Army quarterback Rollie Stichweh crossing into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Fans were shocked when they saw his teammates celebrating, only to watch Stichweh make the exact same play just moments later.

Phone lines quickly lit up at the local CBS stations. Confused viewers were trying to understand what had just happened. Announcer Lindsey Nelson had to explain that Army had not scored a second touchdown. Rather, home viewers had just witnessed a historic “immediate video replay” of the TD, as it was called.

“This is not live,” Nelson exclaimed. “Ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again!”

Granted, sports fans should be forever grateful for the ability to analyze important plays in excruciating detail, watching the action loop over and over again in super slow-motion. But, in many ways, instant replays introduced an era of technical cynicism to our sports coverage, and to U.S. culture more broadly.

First, consider the meaning of the term itself: instant replay. “Instant” implies an urge for instant gratification, of knowing the precise outcome right away. “Replay” implies the ability to do things over, to witness events repeatedly and relive critical moments again and again.

As Verna’s invention started taking hold in society, America endured the Civil Rights Movement, several brutal political assassinations, the Vietnam War, and the Watergate scandal which culminated in the only resignation of a U.S. president – by Richard Nixon, a diehard football fan no less. This was the dawn of the modern era when America arguably lost its innocence, and the instant replay was just one small thread woven into this much larger national tapestry.

Of course, the instant replay has greatly improved our sense of fair play by reversing bad referee calls, and exposing players who actually stepped out of bounds. On the other hand, the replay technology has prompted untold delays for sports fans while officials “go to the replay booth to check the tape.”

The replay has become so ingrained that we reflexively accept this slowdown of action, which in turn fuels doubts about every single call made on the field, depending on which team the fans are rooting for. Nobody believes in the umps or refs anymore, because all humans are fallible. In some very real sense, the instant replay has reinforced our faith in technology at the expense of human trust.

Now replay cameras crowd our baseball outfields to show when any hit lands foul, and they surround our basketball courts to show who got fouled. Over time, our expanding doubts and fears have introduced replay cameras into every stadium, along with every shopping center, office, bank, store, housing complex and street corner in the United States.

In the wake of recent violent police altercations, virtually everything we do now gets filmed for replay, even down to police officers carrying cameras on their helmets to capture footage of all public interactions. If we can’t trust our refs, how can we possibly trust our cops armed with guns? And so it goes.

In short, we have become an instant replay society so consumed by our capacity to double-check errors that we have forsaken the ability to quickly forgive mistakes and move on. It’s much more fun to fixate on the instant replays and scream at the on-screen blunders in high-definition over and over again. Come to think of it, that’s probably appropriate because it’s what Tony Verna would have wanted all along.

Making Your Voice Stand Out in a Technology-Mobile-Security First World
by JoAnn Yamani

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Photo credit: TaaraGo

“Is NOTHING sacred anymore?!?,” exalted a fellow shopper standing in an exorbitantly long line at a crowded mall less than a week before Christmas. With everyone’s personal lives on display through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, the answer to that simple (and, most likely, rhetorical question) is “No.” Yet, we still live in a reality of our own creation that we define our own privacy and have more than a modicum of control over our lives (be it digital, analog, or paper).

On Christmas Day, the Wall Street Journal reported that the National Security Agency was asked to provide additional details about its supposed snooping in regular peoples’ lives. To those of us not living under a rock, this came as no real surprise. To those of us in the public relations industry, it was par for the course.

The upside about all of this data about random people (and the tangential reality that nothing is sacred anymore) is that it’s hard to stand out. We find this equally true in the technology-ridden world of Silicon Valley where the latest and greatest technology is, quite often, muffled by the big voices of the Fortune 20.

Hear (pun intended) are some tips for making your smallish voice stand out above the din:

  1. Make friends with others

For every New York Times or Wall Street Journal, there is a great industry-focused publication that, like you, knows there are other players in the same field. Introduce yourself. Explain your market differentiation. These are important building blocks toward more business-focused pieces.

 

  1. Befriend a big kid

Reporters with the larger publications are smart, too. They know that more interesting stories can be told with an understanding of the overall industry landscape. Mine the fields and find them. Work around their schedule. Find your relevancy to their coverage and see if there is interest in a different perspective.

 

  1. Learn to take “No” (not this time) for an answer

Okay, so we’re all busy. Maybe some other company is getting funding from Khosla. Maybe Microsoft is next behind Sony in the hack-attack. But, establish an ongoing dialogue so your company remains top-of-mind.

 

  1. Know your point-of-view before the opportunity strikes

Having pre-planned responses to malware attacks, advertising maelstroms and whatever craziness happens is a strategic maneuver for you and your marketing team to block and tackle immediately, before the need to huddle even arises.

Holiday Shopping Goes Mobile: Lessons for Marketers and Companies amidst the Shift in Shopping Patterns
by Jen Kindred

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Photo credit: Sense Networks

Photo credit: Sense Networks

Ah, December… a time for reflections and predictions. Marketing and PR professionals are especially fond of this annual season of round-ups and forecasts. It gives us a chance to take a step back and think about what we’ve learned, to note patterns and emerging trends, to take a deep breath and prepare for the rush of work that will land on our laptops in January. Here in Silicon Valley, the holiday season has us thinking a lot about mobile technology, among other important topics. How has the rapid expansion of the smartphone universe impacted holiday shopping, consumer behavior and family traditions?

Recent news reports about the health of the holiday economy are less than clear; by some reports, retail spending fell 11% on Thanksgiving weekend. We’re still in the first half of December, so the comprehensive picture of retail results remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: mobile is a big game changer. According to MediaPost and IBM, online traffic from mobile devices on Thanksgiving Day was stronger than traditional PCs for the first time, accounting for 52% of all online traffic. Best Buy experienced such an unexpected surge of mobile traffic, their web site crashed.

Black Friday shopping—complete with crowds, bad weather, and parking lot hassles—has lost some of its luster now that similar discounts can be found online before, during, and after Thanksgiving. Some of us, after all, are old enough to remember when Turkey Day was more about family than the frenzied pursuit of doorbuster deals. Perhaps the convenience of shopping from our phones, tablets, and laptops in the comfort of our own homes is helping us reclaim some of the true spirit of the holidays. Indeed, teens and Millennials appear to be one of the most lucrative targets for in-store Black Friday sales; American Eagle, Old Navy, and Victoria’s Secret had a banner weekend.

As with any major paradigm shift, the remarkable changes we’ve seen in consumer behavior over the last few years have far-reaching implications, some of which we are only beginning to understand. When we step back from retail numbers to take in a bigger picture, we see that mobile devices are impacting much more than just shopping trends. In recent years, increasingly dire weather conditions have impacted the shopping season; many retailers started promotions earlier this year to hedge against this risk.

The ongoing debate about the disappearance of the middle class and the struggles of the working class appears to have also had a sobering effect on many Americans’ spending habits. While the overall economy shows promising signs of recovery—lower gas prices, improved jobs numbers, the best consumer sentiment stats in seven years—retailers may have been too optimistic about how this good news would hit their bottom line this season. After many years of economic struggle, many Americans are using the extra room in their household budget to pay down debt, save for retirement, and donate to charitable causes, knowing that tough times may still lie ahead. (For more on this, see IBD’s article about the Principal Financial Well-Being Index.)

According to Entrepreneur, the number of ads and promotions the average consumer sees during the holiday season is equivalent to standing in the middle of Times Square for 10 weeks. Yikes…how much of that can possibly be sinking in, especially in the middle of a dramatic news cycle? Obviously, in the face of advertising overload, the smarter and more personalized the marketing, the better chance it has of reaching its intended audience and converting to an actual purchase.

Mobile is the most obvious choice for delivering more intelligent, customized promotions to targeted consumers. It will be interesting to see how advertising, marketing and PR professionals use the data generated by this holiday season to analyze consumer trends and tailor their approach. And it will be even more fascinating to see how emerging technologies like wearables (Apple Watch), mobile payment systems, 3D printing, and smart, connected products (IoT) converge to transform our buying and consumption habits in ways we have yet to imagine—not to mention how these habits will be influenced by economic, political, and social developments. Looking back and looking ahead, one thing’s for sure: If you’re on the high-tech beat, 2015 will be a busy year!

What do you think? Is mobile changing the way we shop for and celebrate the holidays? Which retailers were able to break through the noise and make you pay attention this year?

Carlos in Danger – How the Media Can Turn on You
by Danielle Giaccio

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As a born and raised New Yorker, I have been around for my fair share of NY political scandals. New York is the hub of the media world and the saying is true, “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”. As a PR professional, I think the saying should also be, “if you can survive the media here, you can survive it anywhere.”  The NY media is currently focusing on a scandal that has yet again rocked the NY political scene. Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner aka Carlos Danger was ousted as being involved in another scandal and admitted it, again.

Prior to the scandal coming to light, Weiner actually had a lead in the polls and it was looking like New Yorkers were ready to forgive and forget. Even the media was being kind to the once embattled congressman who initially had to resign due to the first round of accusations.

Weiner came out strong and had a good PR team to paint him in this new reformed light. He made several TV commercials acknowledging his past mistakes while asking New Yorkers to take a second look and give him a chance. He seemed to be a changed man in the eyes of voters and the media and we began to listen to what he had to say about the issues facing New Yorkers. We started to forget about the past scandal and started to take him seriously as a candidate.

All of that changed when a young woman went to the media with yet another claim against Weiner.  She opened a can of worms on the candidate and inevitably ruined what his PR team worked so hard to prove to the media and the voters – that Weiner was a reformed candidate who was ready to put the past behind him. Little did his PR team know that his past would come back to haunt him and inevitably ruin the image that was initially portrayed to the media.

This brings to light an issue many publicists face in their daily work. What do you do when the image you worked so hard to build in the media and public is tarnished? How do you help the image recover? In this particular situation, can they recover?

In Weiner’s case, prospects for staging yet another recovery are dim.  Let’s face it: he had a second chance and blew it. There is nothing the media loves more than a comeback – except maybe an epic scandal.  Now he is left with a broken campaign and poor public image.

The unraveling of this campaign is not a reflection of poor PR tactics, just a poor candidate. The PR team successfully utilized the media to push the new reformed image of Weiner. But when the second scandal hit, there was little they could do to repair it. The media likes to report on trends, digging up old stories and giving them new meaning.

As PR professionals, it is important to remember that journalists do more than report specific events and transactions – they look for the bigger picture.  Coverage of Apple or Samsung, for example, is rarely only about the latest gadget , but rather what makes it new from previous versions, and relevant in the current environment.

Deal of the Week
by Liana Hawes

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Jeff Bezos’ purchase of The Washington Post last week was a media darling of a deal.  The waning  newspaper finally got a buyer and to everyone’s surprise  it’s Amazon.com’s  founder who paid $250M for the Pulitzer Prize winning  Daily, once valued at several billion dollars.  Bezos was there to catch the Post in what could have been a steep fall from grace if a buyer didn’t show. Bezos dealt with the Graham Family, the paper’s publishers and operating executives for four generations.

The year 1993 was the height of The Washington Post’s daily circulation which peaked at 843,332 daily subscribers (source: Alliance For Audited Media).  In March 2013, The Post’s daily circulation was 474,767 and was down 7 percent in the first half of 2013. In 2012, the paper had 640 employees. It once had 1,000.  The Washington Post Company reported that it lost $50M in revenue during the first part of the year, because of its newspaper operation.  Despite its legacy and prestige, the Washington Post is now a cash drain.

Large publicly traded companies don’t want their newspaper properties any more.  But small private investors do. Bezos, however, is not just any investor. If you look at his personal wealth, this $250M price was not a big purchase , a drop in the bucket for Bezos.   There’s six degrees of separation and, if you read between the lines, the purchase is not that surprising.

What does Jeff Bezos, a techie entrepreneur/billionaire  possibly want with a newspaper property with declining circulation and advertising?  Bezos is a media mogul who changed the book publishing industry and managed to make Amazon into a brand giant and household name –  and himself a billionaire in the process through Amazon’s various operating entities.  Who has not bought a book from Amazon or gone shopping on the site?   If Bezos hasn’t made Amazon.com consistently profitable, he has made it  valuable as a brand giant, an in-your-face always-on digital media company.

Whether we can expect that The Post, which won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking a key Watergate story in 1973, has any hope for a bright future, let’s watch and see if the sale signifies, “The beginning of a phase in which this Gilded Age’s major beneficiaries reinvest in the infrastructure of our public intelligence,” as  stated by The Atlantic editor James Fallows who’ said the deal put him in a ‘state of shock’, according to an August 5 story in The New York Times Dealbook column.

When a media or communications company invests in or acquires a content company or digital media property,  typically a subscriber base is  co-opted such that existing content and programming expands to a new audience of consumers creating revenue growth opportunities CPMs.  Media conglomerates, therefore, are one of the most heavily regulated sectors.  Their ownership of the airwaves and broadcast networks monopolized access and control of public communication to serve their own commercial interests.  Aside from broadband and cable, where are new audiences to be found?  Where will those 474,767 Post subscribers go, along with those of their sister properties?  Where will The Post’s find a new audience for its editorial content?

Look no further than behind the LDC screen of your Kindle digital reader.  What better medium to deliver and promote news product.    If you are one of the 22 millions owners of an Amazon Kindle devices, you may soon find yourself  a subscriber to The Post and its sister publishing businesses ( also included in the $250M price).  And don’t be surprised if a Post story pops-up during your online shopping experience on Amazon.com.  A digital content distribution model such would not be  rocket science especially for Bezos, who is credited  with changing  consumerism.  All speculative at this point since Bezos himself (not his company) was the purchaser.  But just how will Bezos leverage his new toy from an operations standpoint?    How much fun is there to be had with this new toy?  There could be six degrees of separation?

Now here’s another angle that was investigated by NPR’s media correspondent David Folkenflik, who looked at this deal from the standpoint of intellectual property and sales tax.  This report revealed Amazon to be a major vendor of cloud storage to the CIA which paid Amazon $600M to build its cloud storage system.   While it may be a large storage provider to the CIA, Amazon wants nothing to do with Wikileaks, which it booted from its web hosting service Amazon Web Services back in 2010 at the height of public interest in Wikileaks.  You might think Bezos is new to Washington but his Company had no problem following  the directive of Senator Joe Leiberman when he called for retaliatory action against Wikileaks.  Amazon Web Services stated that Wikileaks violated its terms of service because it “doesn’t own or otherwise control all the rights to the classified content” and that the 250 classified docs that Wikilieaks was publishing was not “redacted in such a way that they were not putting innocent people in jeopardy.”

Whatever the reasons or the way the language is written, Washington may not be such an unfamiliar ground Bezos and his purchase of the Graham enterprise is more of a power shift than a good will purchase of a curious new toy.

Controlling the Media Message: The Angelina Effect
by Danielle Giaccio

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This past week, the world was shocked to find out that one of the entertainment world’s most popular and sexiest woman, Angelina Jolie, had undergone a double mastectomy. When people think of Angelina, they can’t help but think of her “killer body” but also, they think of a woman who has made it a point to do good in this world and use her celebrity status to do that. Angelina did something a lot of celebrities choose to do in a world where one tweet can lead to a full blown scandal if not perceived correctly by the general public – she got in front of the message.

Angelina JolieAngelina chose to write an op-ed in the New York Times, on “My Medical Choice” to own the story and control her message, rather than having the media control the message for her. Often times when a celebrity gets in front of something, such as a scandal or big public announcement, it is easier to control the message they want to get out there. Rather than having some hospital worker leak a story and have it on the front page of Star Magazine, she chose to bravely tell her story and get the message out there that she is strong, in better health, and is telling story directly, rather than have someone else speculate on the facts.

In PR, whether dealing with a person or a business, it is important for PR professionals to advise clients on the best way to control the media message. Angelina’s PR team clearly went the right route by putting Angelina “front and center” to own her decision and spin it in a way that’s positive and inspiring to others.

Angelina’s PR team also did the right thing by putting her in a light that made her seem like every other woman. They made her more relatable than she’s ever been.  The general public has a tendency to view celebrities as “superhuman,” so Angelina’s decision to publicize her story in a personal way made her struggle the same as any woman in Minnesota, or Alabama, or New York. She became a voice for all women struggling to make the same decision and she used her celebrity stature to not only control what the media would say, but to also use her voice to help others.

Angelina’s message was simple; this happened to me, I am strong, and I am going to use my voice to tell other woman in similar situations that there are other options. Her words struck a chord with many breast cancer survivors and victims and definitely brought a bigger conversation to light as women can see this is a viable option if you are someone who carries that gene.

At Gutenberg, we are proud to represent HERS Breast Cancer Foundation, an organization aimed at supporting all women healing from breast cancer by providing post-surgical products and services regardless of financial status.

We have had the pleasure of working with women who are survivors of this disease and who work tirelessly to promote awareness and help women in need of treatment or care options. We all owe a great gratitude to Angelina for not only bringing the conversation to the forefront, but also for controlling the message and letting people know that her struggle is one of many and that it does get better.


How Big Bird Became the Snuffleupagas In the (Debate) Room
by Hugh Burnham

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While as a PR firm, we remain bi-partisan and impartial to parties and candidates, there are some real media lessons to take away from Wednesday’s Presidential Debate.

Both candidates have made their fair share of blunders in the campaign, but this week brought some new fodder for the American media.

Mitt Romney told the audience (and it was a sizeable audience) that he would cut funding for PBS and in particular, he called out Big Bird, or, as Snuffleupagas, his imaginary friend calls him, just: Bird.)

Romney’s pledge to cut a government subsidy to PBS, the public television network that has aired Sesame Street since 1970, combined with a throwaway reference to the show’s beloved Big Bird, inadvertently produced a top-trending hashtag, dozens of fake Twitter accounts, and the internet’s new favorite meme.

Here’s what Romney actually said:

“I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. [...] I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you [moderator and PBS employee Jim Lehrer] too. But I’m not going to [...] keep on spending money on things, to borrow money from China to pay for it.”

Within minutes of his remarks, #BigBird was one of the fastest rising trends on Twitter. According to the Associated Press, at one point the site registered 17,000 tweets per minute mentioning our fine feathered friend.

The lesson is: In today’s hyper digital environment, it’s critical to consider how your remarks will play out on the broader stage.  What you say will be interpreted by more than just the people in the room, or by the traditional media covering it.  Sound bites, ideas, images take on a life of their own when tweeted, re-tweeted, posted to Facebook, blogged about, and so on.

One thing is clear – if you want to keep something from going viral, go easy on Big Bird.


Why A Consonant Matters
by Hugh Burnham

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Many outlets covering the passing of astronaut Neil Armstrong have noted that he was actually misquoted in his first words from the lunar landing: “That’s one small step for ‘man’, one giant leap for mankind.” Armstrong himself maintained that he actually said …one small step for ‘a man’, rather than just ‘man.’  But why does it matter? And what does it have to do with public relations?

The ‘a’ changes everything, in that it denotes a step for a man, rather than ‘man’, which would be the same as mankind.   We probably never really thought of it that way, but it’s a big difference.

We always counsel our spokespeople to communicate in pithy, quotable phrases, that are both succinct and memorable.   Oftentimes, we anticipate interview questions and how to answer them. Neil Armstrong was a great American. In the end, the fact that his ‘a’ was inaudible on the tapes never hurt his legacy, because the message he delivered was powerful, memorable and quotable, and will survive in the history books forever.

Had Armstrong told people, “Oh, that’s not what I expected,” as he took his first steps, or “Wow, this is strange,” he likely would not be as enduring a figure as he is now.    At least I doubt that the President would be ordering flags to be flown at half staff for his funeral.  So remember, if you want to make an impression, choose a phrase that captures the moment with some flair and drama. Neil Armstrong sure did.




Penn State: Frozen Like A Statue
by Hugh Burnham

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Penn State has been digging itself out of one of the largest messes a university has ever found itself in, since the board of directors discovered that a cover up had been going on in the Sandusky child molestation case.

Although the University took decisive action and communicated effectively in some instances, it has been remarkably deficient and unwilling to put responsibility on the beloved former Head Coach of its Nittany Lions, Joe Paterno.

The recently released Freeh report once again brought JoePa into the spotlight and for all the wrong reasons.  It seems that Joe Paterno willfully dissuaded President Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley from reporting Sandusky’s pedophilia to the authorities and they went along with the revered football Coach’s demands.

In light of the report, many people expected the University to remove the statue of JoePa from the Campus.

The University, however has resisted those calls, in blatant disrespect to the victims of Sandusky’s crimes.  No matter how many supporters Paterno has in the University and the Community, it has become glaringly obvious that the statue is now a monument to a man who helped cover up heinous crimes.

This morning, in another example of poor communication, Penn State contradicted reports that the statue would be taken down, insisting instead that no decision had been made.

When a crisis strikes, there needs to be a full plan to deal with the aftermath.  While it would be painful to take down the statue of a man who was so revered and created such a great football program, it would also send a message that the University was very, very wrong in the way that it handled this crisis, and that Paterno himself made very bad mistakes.  However, accepting responsibility for a situation is the first step in rebuilding a positive reputation.

Otherwise, the pressure will grow on the University until it buckles to public opinion that the statue must be removed and someone else will decide for Penn State what is right and wrong.   Handling a crisis requires a full understanding of the likely outcomes and a deep sense of what is morally right.  Paterno was so beloved for so long that it may seem like heresy to the board to remove his statue.   But it is the only way to break cleanly from the past.  Sooner or later, the statue will be gone.  The University has a short window of opportunity to accept responsibility for its role in this scandal, and start to act in a way that rebuilds trust and its improved its reputation over the long-term.

End of an Occupation – End of a News Cycle?
by Liana Hawes

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Brookfield Properties owner and former New York City Planning Commission Chairman John E. Zuccotti has a public park named after him in the Financial District of lower Manhattan where Trinity Place, Cedar Street, Broadway and Liberty Street converge. The site itself was formerly known as Liberty Park Plaza, one block south east (or thereabouts) of the World Trade Center. If you’ve ever had a day job in the Financial District, you’ll know what an important respite this Plaza, with its trees and seats, was (is) to a weary workers on lunch break. 

Zuccotti’s real estate, and the area surrounding it, has a place in history as defending private commercial interests. While the plaza itself has been used frequently in the 20th century for public demonstrations and the staging of protests, back in the 17th century the ground was part of the Dutch Colonial settlement “New Amsterdam”, an extension of the Dutch Republic. The settlement was just outside of Fort Amsterdam (which protected the interest of the Dutch East India Company’s fur trade operations on the Hudson River) and strategically situated on the southern tip of Manhattan Island. This region, including the settlement and the Fort which was the Colony’s capital, eventually became known as New York City.  In recent history, as the Towers fell, Liberty Park Plaza was covered with debris and in the aftermath was used as a staging area for recovery efforts.

Over the past few weeks the park has again taken a place on center stage as it’s been a staging area for the OWS movement. On a recent visit to the Occupy Wall Street encampment, I was particularly struck at how impressively the OWS drum battery was staged in the Plaza. They sounded terrific and beat a call for all the tourists and onlookers who walked by in curiosity, disgust, wonder, ignorance and encouragement. 

After throngs of spectators trampled through the Park’s maze over this past weekend of assemblage, protests and camping, the Plaza was yet again strewn with debris – trash – which has since been cleared – along with the Protesters. It was empty and clean this morning and glam shots of pristine Zuccotti Park evoked the Liberty Park Plaza of yore, New York’s Financial District in all its glory where the Towers once stood strong and Liberty could be felt.  Although I’m not sure why this Park was ever dubbed “Liberty”, maybe for Liberty Street?   

Why did Mr. Zuccotti and his team at Brookfield Properties insist on a name change from Liberty Park Plaza and will he want to go down in history for his role as OWS’s landlord, tolerant of their presence yet pushing for their removal by enforcement? Will the name Zuccotti Park forever be tainted with images and stories about the health, legal, and safety threats the authorities said this particular OWS camp posed to the public at large?  This rather than the cause that actually inspired the Occupy Wall Street movement and other camps to subsequently form in cities across the U.S. in national protest?   

So far, the news media has focused on the logistics of the Camp, the occupation itself, the costs to taxpayers, law enforcement and the legal and removal strategies of the City authorities. Now that the occupation’s over, I’d like to see more stories about the core message in the protest and the rallying cry against the financial establishment, for it was strong and passionate enough to inspire similar “Occupy” protests throughout the nation. I’d like to see Mr. Zuccotti, for whom the Park is named, going head to head in a nightly news roundtable discussion with an OWS operations official. 

How did Mr. Zuccotti get private money to renovate the Park after 9/11?  What were the goals of the renovation and how was Zuccotti Park designed to function as public space? 

This was an $8M renovation by a prestigious firm which installed trees, granite sidewalks, tables and seating as well as in-ground lighting.  It seems like as good a place as any for an urban camp. While the granite is hard as a sleeping surface, it’s great for outdoor cooking and the tables are conducive to networking discussions, training, interviews, chess, dining and computing – all things that make for a successful protest.

The Occupiers will find it hard to be removed but they might be more comfortable if they can go home to a good night’s sleep and a meal and prepare properly for the days and nights of protesting ahead.  Or is the movement made stronger by the camp itself and the community it fostered among its inhabitants? Camps are powerful structures when it comes to group cohesion, defense, protection and taking a stand.

I’m following updates and Tweets on these developments from the New York Times City Room and WNYC news among others. These seem to indicate that the City and Brookfield say that while the Camp must go (and has) the protests may continue.  Now that camp’s over, perhaps the news media will no longer focus on camp logistics and we’ll get to the meat of the story with investigations now turning towards the reasons for the protest and what, if any, are the key messages behind Occupy Wall Street.

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