Video – How PR Came to Rule Modern Journalism

Video – How PR Came to Rule Modern Journalism

“You can’t believe everything you read in the papers.” Everyone knows this, but few people realise this truism extends far beyond the celebrity pages and gossip columns, and spills into ‘real’ news. Here, the near-invisible influence of PR companies is often pivotal in deciding what news gets told, and how it gets reported. By taking a brief look at the history of modern journalism, and using real examples taken from recent headlines, Michael Marshall will show why you really, really can’t believe everything you read in the papers.

Michael Marshall is the co-founder and vice-president of the Merseyside Skeptics Society and appears on the Skeptics with a K and Strange Quarks podcasts. Besides organising national and international campaigns against homeopathy, he writes about the often-unsuspected role of PR in modern media. He was once called by Ben Goldacre ‘a mighty nerd from Liverpool’. He was also once rather amusingly called a very rude word by self-proclaimed psychic Joe Power.

QED is a two-day science and skepticism conference taking place in the Piccadilly Hotel, Manchester on the 10th-11th March 2012.

Fantastic speakers from the worlds of science and entertainment will be joining us for a weekend celebration of science, reason and critical thinking.



“Intelligence activity in the past decades has, all too often, exceeded
the restraints on the exercise of governmental power that are imposed by
our country’s Constitution, laws, and traditions,” according to the
Congressional Research Service.

The CRS, which shuns polemical claims, presents that assertion as a simple
statement of fact (although cautiously sourced to the 1976 Church Committee
report) in a newly updated report on FBI terrorism investigations.

The report reviews the FBI investigative process, the statutory framework
within which it operates, and the tools at its disposal, along with
oversight considerations for Congress. See The Federal Bureau of
Investigation and Terrorism Investigations, April 24, 2013:

Other new or newly updated CRS reports include the following.

Terrorism, Miranda, and Related Matters, April 24, 2013:

Terrorism Risk Insurance: Issue Analysis and Overview of Current Program,
April 26, 2013:

U.S. Air Force Bomber Sustainment and Modernization: Background and Issues
for Congress, April 23, 2013:

Multiyear Procurement (MYP) and Block Buy Contracting in Defense
Acquisition: Background and Issues for Congress, April 25, 2013:

U.S.-South Korea Relations, April 26, 2013:

Iran Sanctions, April 24, 2013:

Intelligence Issues for Congress, April 23, 2013:

Inflation-Indexing Elements in Federal Entitlement Programs, April 24,

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress, April 25, 2013:

Prevalence of Mental Illness in the United States: Data Sources and
Estimates, April 24, 2013:


The Department of Defense has revised its 1996 directive on non-lethal
weapons (NLW) to guide future development and procurement of this category
of weaponry.

“Unlike conventional lethal weapons that destroy their targets principally
through blast, penetration, and fragmentation, NLW employ means other than
gross physical destruction to prevent the target from functioning. NLW are
intended to have relatively reversible effects on personnel or materiel,”
the revised directive explains.

“It is DoD policy that NLW doctrine and concepts of operation will be
developed to reinforce deterrence and expand the range of options available
to commanders.”

The directive does not apply to information operations, cyber operations
or electronic warfare capabilities. See DoD Executive Agent for Non-Lethal
Weapons (NLW), and NLW Policy, DoD Directive 3000.03E, April 25, 2013:

Other noteworthy new or updated DoD issuances include the following.

DoD Nuclear Weapons Surety Program, DoD Directive 3150.02, April 24, 2013:

DoD Counterfeit Prevention Policy, DoD Instruction 4140.67, April 26,

Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight
(ATSD(IO)), DoD Directive 5148.11, April 24, 2013:

Use of Excess Ballistic Missiles for Space Launch, Directive-Type
Memorandum (DTM) 11-008, July 5, 2011, Incorporating Change 3, April 25,

Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.

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Steven Aftergood
Project on Government Secrecy
Federation of American Scientists
voice: (202) 454-4691
twitter: @saftergood