Do you like being Facebook’s “lab rat”?

Anyone who uses Facebook, and millions do, know that the site follows our every online move. They track our searches, our online purchases, and now they’re using us as “lab rats” says New York Times reporter Vindu Goel in his June 29 article, “Facebook Tinkers With Users’ Emotions in News Feed Experiment, Stirring Outcry.” Continue reading

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Profit versus employee relations

If you’ve ever wondered why labor unions exist, the actions of Zenith Health Care Group should give you the answer. According to a news article in The Boston Globe, June 30, Zenith recently purchased a Lexington, MA, nursing home and immediately cut salaries 40 to 60 percent. Medical benefits will be cut from 75 percent to 50 percent. According to an official from the SEIU, a union representing 76 employees, voted to strike on Monday, June 30. In a classic example of a bad PR move, Zenith refused to comment for the news article.

Globe Columnist, Adrian Walker, devoted his June 30 column to the issue – Unsettling impasse. Walker was able to reach Ari Schwartz, Zenith’s chief executive, by phone who said the nursing home was losing $2 million a year and the workers were overpaid. According to Walker’s column Schwartz is apparently “concerned” for nursing home workers throughout the city. “The main issue is that the Salaries there are substantially higher than in the city and the state,…We’re trying to bring them in line with the region.”  Continue reading

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Newspaper Circulation Trend

We’ve all heard stories of declining print newspaper circulation and advertising dollars, finally some good news.  According to a Boston Globe article, (11/1, Business) the Globe’s digital circulation has increased.  I hope that online subscriptions increase enough to support the print edition.  I still enjoy reading the old-fashioned print version in the a.m.

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Did Obama exonerate NSA leaker Snowden?

“Given the history of abuse by governments, it is right to ask questions about surveillance,” he added, “particularly as technology is reshaping every aspect of our lives.”
(President Obama quoted in The Boston Globe, August 10)

In his August 9 news conference, President Obama called for “greater transparency and more oversight of America’s extensive electronic spying programs, acknowledging that recent disclosures have eroded public trust, while defending the National Security Agency’s telephone and e-mail surveillance as necessary and legal.” (Boston Globe, Aug. 10, “President Pledges new limits on surveillance,” by Bryan Bender)

I believe it’s the article’s subhead that brings up an interesting dilemma: “Obama says Snowden case fallout prompted new look at balancing of privacy and security.”  In the article Obama talks about rebuilding trust and the governments need to protect our constitutional freedoms.

Perhaps Edward Snowden did all of us a favor by forcing the government, and all of us for that matter, to think about our constitutional freedoms versus national security, i.e. protecting us from the bad guys. Of course we’re talking about limits here – just how much surveillance is too much surveillance?  I seriously doubt that the government would be interested in my emails.

Back to Snowden.  We could look at what he did from a variety of philosophical perspectives.  Did he leak this information from a duty perspective?  He might have believed that he had a duty to expose the NSA’s spy program because U.S. citizens have a right to know if their private information is being reviewed by unknown people.  Did he do this for the greater good, a utilitarian perspective, thinking that revealing NSA’s spy program might initiate accountability and promote greater transparency.

Should Snowden receive protection as a whistleblower under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that gives some protections to whistleblowers?  This is not an original question.  I found a several references to this idea in a Google search.  A post in one blog, “Suffragio,”  asks an interesting question: “…would John Boehner or Eric Holder or the American public generally be more sympathetic to him if the whistle-blowing came from within Facebook or Google and not from within the public sector?” (“Reframing the issue of Edward Snowden’s whistle-blowing: public vs. private,” posted June 13 by Kevin Lees.)

This makes an interesting discussion.  Is Snowden a hero or villain?

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In defense of the “Rolling Stone’s” cover photo

I think Rolling Stone reporter Matt Taibbi, a Boston native, brings up some very interesting points about the Rolling Stone Tsarnaev cover photo in “Explaining the Rolling Stone Cover by a Boston Native,” (7/19/12,  He does look like the “boy next door,” no one would suspect him of being a terrorist, the point of the picture and story.  Also, the RS does report on news other than rock stars and many of their articles are insightful, well written journalistic pieces.  The major point that Taibbi makes, I believe, is that it’s likely that many of those who criticize the photo never read the article.  Taibbi has a link to Janet Reitman’s article. Feel free to share your opinion.

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Good overview of Canadian train disaster

This article in the “World” section of the July 9 Boston Globe gives a good overview of the Canadian train explosion.  One of the statements by a citizen who might have lost three family members was particularly relevant to this and other disasters.  In the article, “Death toll rises o 13 in Canada Train derailment,” Raymond Lafontaine said “…he was angry with what appeared to be lack of safety regulations.”  He said, “‘We always wait until there’s a big accident to change things….'” He continued, ”Well today we’ve had a big accident, it’s one of the biggest ever in Canada.'” (Boston Globe, 7.9.12, A3)

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Tweet the crisis away?

This article from Digiday, (7.8.13) by Josh Sternberg, reveals how important Twitter is during a crisis.  Not only can it set the record straight, as in the Taco Bell meat contents crisis, it can help in the flow of information and allows the company in crisis to gain valuable feedback.

As the article points out though, companies must respond quickly and honestly.  In my opinion, this means that if companies are going to use social media, they need to hire a couple of experts to staff the sites 24/7.  These professionals should come from the PR profession or at least know how to work with PR professionals to get the message out there.  Comments welcome!

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