S U C K

"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 10 June 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 

 
Flack Jacket

 

[PCN]

If it consumes bandwidth, it's

content. The more bandwidth it

consumes, the better the content

it is. And if it saturates a T3,

it's an IPO, or at the very

least, a Wired cover feature. By

these standards, the most

slobber-deserving app on the net

would seem to be PCN, the screen

saver/personal news "agent"

that's infecting discussions

online and off, and reportedly

delivering enough traffic to

chart pointcast.com right below

Netscape in hits received.

Already, large Wincentric

corporate offices are pulling

PCN's plug, in reaction to the

bottlenecks created by hundreds

of PCN-installed machines

simultaneously groping for news

updates, every hour on the hour.

 

[Farcast]

c|net bequeaths the "Best

Internet Application" award unto

it, Netscape partners with it,

and Dave Winer gushes over it,

calling it "CNN on your

desktop." But if PCN is exciting

to Internet enthusiasts and

investors (including the

assorted former Adobe, Oracle,

Lotus and Ziff-Davis execs who

stand to bust a very green nut,

indeed, with its success), think

how deliriously happy the

service's indirect beneficiaries

must be by the prospects carried

in PCN's conceptual baggage. PCN -

like Farcast, Newspage, and a

sluice of other online news

sources - is doomed to have its

greatest contribution to content

largely ignored by consumers.

Namely, its radical extension of

the prosperous public relations

industry.

 

[PR Mall]

High-tech stenography existed

long before the net, but with

working PR professionals still

outnumbering journalists

(150,000 to 130,000 at last

count), new opportunities in

flack distribution have never

been more necessary. Granted,

there are stories which are

aptly covered by the Reuters and

AP wireservices of the world -

every so often a construction

crane is bound to fall and

flatten a smattering of

pedestrians, a prime minister

will catch some lead in the gut,

or a Boeing will gracelessly

kiss a mountaintop. But what of

the day-to-day churn of

newsflashes and announcements

imperative to the business,

entertainment, and political

industries - the bread and

butter that keeps talking heads

squawking and bitstreams

spewing?

 

[Hill]

In the trenches of traditional

media, the circle-jerk between

PR and journalism pros (who more

often than not graduate from the

same schools) is already a

mature and technologically

sophisticated media transaction.

PR factories spit VNR feeds

24-7, providing raw footage and

completed stories, while

soundbites ride the digital

stutter via services like

RadioUSA. But if the flatulent

tactics used by PR pachyderms

like Hill & Knowlton and

Burson-Marsteller to ingeniously

materialize "activist

organizations" like the National

Smoker's Alliance have yet to be

ported to fertile digital

fields, holding one's breath for

their arrival may not be as hard

on the lungs as one would guess.

 

[Debrief]

To that end, ballyhooed

debutantes like PCN are a

diction-taker's wet dream.

Though glaringly improbable,

media outlets in the past have

at least provided the rare

possibility of writers seeing

through press releases and

interpreting the info for

themselves. But more often than

not, the press tends to act like

revenue-mongering middlemen,

with the audaciousness to charge

consumers fees to filter

missives from mission control at

their discretion. The new breed

of net services, and their

coming iterations, do away with

this needless redundancy. Almost

every TCP/IP news feed is built

on the dual bedrock of PR

Newswire and Business Newswire,

invaluable for-hire wires whose

product is often at least as

informative, and easily as

honest, as the average CNN

rehash. And with partnerships

like PCN's with Twentieth

Century Fox as their exclusive

lifestyle info provider,

Independence Day takes on a far

more auspicious meaning.

 

[Rome]

The gifted PR writers who provide

the source code for our current

corporate events narrative may

find the rewards they've always

been deserving of - granted,

when the archaic notion of a

free press migrates closer to

irrelevancy, and they're able to

collect fees not only from their

employers, but also from their

employer's employees. "This will

fundamentally change the way

companies communicate with their

employees," said Neil Weintraut,

Director of Internet Research

for Hambrecht & Quist.

"PointCast I-Server represents

the first true example of

'community casting' - the

ability to reach an entire

community of workers with the

immediacy and efficiency we've

enjoyed with broadcast

television." And with the new

breed of news service also

collecting fees for ad banner

placement atop their

regurgitated press releases,

we're all rewarded with the

display of a three-way unseen

since the glory days of Caligula.

 

[PR Newswire]

Still, in the ocean of

information emerging

technologies present, sea level

seems almost required by law to

be fairly shallow. Whether it's

called "information,"

"journalism," "news," or

catch-all "media," we can all

look forward to a future where

the facts of life are presented

by those most passionate about

them. The home page was an omen,

and as bandwidth expands, the

shared dream of everyone,

corporate and individual,

authoring their own

human-interest stories will pipe

into cubicles with all the depth

of an 8-bit GIF. And as B-Roll

sperms its way onto more and

more pull-down A-lists, what of

the value of opinion?

 

No comment. And what business is

it of yours, anyway?




courtesy of medium.rare