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The 15-Seconds Blog

  • School Superintendent Truant at Media Event

    The Superintendent of Schools in Franklin, MA needs some remedial media training.

     According to Fox 25 TV in Boston, there is an ongoing investigation of a male teacher accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with a female student.

    When the station asked about the matter, Superintendent Maureen Sablonski issued a written statement saying:

    It’s a pity and we’ve all felt very sick and devastated. It’s a breach of trust. Parents send their children to us and, if an adult makes a bad choice or blurs the lines, it impacts us all as educators…”

    We’d give that a C+ grade.  It is good that she expressed concern — but she should have thrown in at least one “If true” — just to avoid convicting the teacher before a trial.

    But our real heartburn came with what happened next.  Apparently, Sablonski held a news conference but instructed the media not to take video of her face.  Amazingly, they complied and only showed the back of her head.

    Sablonski When She WAS Showing Her Face

    The Sup’s explanation for the bizarre order was that the story was not about her — and therefore her face was unneeded.

    Her inexplicable action resulted in Fox 25 doing a five minute segment asking what she had to hide, whether she had some sort of phobia, and questioning her judgment. Note: five minutes is an eternity in TV.  The segment ran twice as long as the original story about the accused creepy teacher.  Take a look

    Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

    Public officials are paid to stand up, face the public and (when necessary) the cameras to explain their institutions.   Sablonski acted like a Mafioso entering the witness protection program rather than an official charged with the proper management of a school system.

    For ducking the cameras — she earned an “F”

  • George Zimmerman Shoots Self In Foot

    A jury has judged George Zimmerman innocent.  But nobody has declared him smart.

    TMZ reported yesterday that the man who killed Travon Martin recently took a tour of the place which manufactured the gun used in the shooting.

    TMZ even has a photo from the ill-advised tour.

    Even Zimmerman’s attorney couldn’t mount a defense for this action. Yahoo News reports this statement from Shawn Vincent, a spokesman for attorney Mark O’Mara:

    “We certainly would not have advised him to go to the factory that made the gun that he used to shoot Trayvon Martin through the heart,” he said. “That was not part of our public relations plan.

    Zimmerman’s brother Robert defended George’s right to visit the gun manufacturer.  But just because you have the right to do something doesn’t make it right.

    It is possible that Zimmerman was trying to send a message with his visit.  The manufacturer, Kel-Tec Firearms, issued a statement which suggested that Zimmerman wanted to purchase another of their products, a tactical shotgun often used for “home defense.”  Perhaps Zimmerman was trying to signal anyone who was planning on doing him harm that he would not be defenseless.


    If so, there are many better ways to send that message then to go glad handing at the gun factory.

    When you have been portrayed negatively in the press — you need to go out of your way to not play into the stereotype with which you have been labeled.

    George’s field trip to the firearm factory is as dumb as if Paula Deen had elected to go to a minstrel show — or Anthony Weiner to a strip club.

  • MSNBC Sink Hole Swallows Four Northeastern Cities

    MSNBC says it is “the place for politics.” They never claimed to be the place for geography.

    On Tuesday the network aired a story about an upcoming bus tour for President Obama and they included this graphic of his planned stops.

    Let’s hope the White House doesn’t rely on MSNBC for navigation — because the network placed all four cities in the wrong place on the map…including the late Tim Russert’s beloved Buffalo.

    Fortunately, the journalists at New York Magazine conducted an investigation and found the misplaced cities.

    When the error was pointed out to him, MSNBC afternoon host Martin Bashir tweeted that it was just “an honest geographic mistake.” What a relief.  For a while we thought it was a “dishonest geographic mistake.”

    The incident is just one more reminder that journalists are increasingly rushing to fill so much air time, internet real estate, and the like — that incredibly bone headed mistakes are happening at an ever increasing rate.

     If “an honest geographic mistake” is the best thing that Bashir can come up with — it makes you wonder what the real reason was behind the metropolis mix up. Perhaps, like the folks at KTVU-TV who were spectacularly WONG recently, they were relying on a summer intern.

    What ever the reason — there is no excuse.  We tell our clients that in the current environment they must be ever vigilant concerning stories of interest to them — because if they are counting on news organizations to do basic fact checking — they will be traveling down the wrong road.