Talk:PR Watch

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Ed Poor was incorrect when he wrote:

Although it's name would seem to indicate a more general purview, it is not a general media watch organization but is devoted solely to countering advocacy by what it calls "anti-environmental" think tanks and "industry front groups" and their public relations firms.

This statement is incorrect in the following respects:

  1. The name "PR Watch" does not indicate a "general media watch organization." Rather, it indicates a publication specifically focused on watchdogging the public relations industry.
  2. PR Watch is not devoted solely to countering anti-environmental think tanks and industry front groups. This is clear from looking at past issues or at the list of past articles which I have added to the article. The article on British-American Tobacco is not about an "anti-environmental think tank" or an "industry front group." The article about Ecos Corporation actually criticizes an environmental consulting firm (and past issues have criticized Greenpeace). "The Pentagon's Information Warrior" is about the Rendon Group, a PR firm that represents the U.S. military -- hardly an anti-environmental think tank or industry front group. "Spy TV" is about interactive TV and privacy -- an example of the fact that sometimes PR Watch tackles issues of media and democracy that go beyond the actions of specific PR firms. Finally, "China's Corporate Friends" is about corporate lobbying on behalf of a foreign nation and doesn't say anything at all about anti-environmental PR.

It's fair to say that PR Watch is generally sympathetic to environmental causes, and my revision makes that clear. However, it is not correct to say that PR Watch "only" covers environmental topics.

Finally, Ed Poor's insertion of the phrase "so-called" before the name of the Center for Media and Democracy adds nothing to the article except his dismissive point of view, so I have removed it. I'm sure he would do the same if I started adding the phrase "so-called" before the "reverend" in "Reverend Sun Myung Moon" or if I referred to S. Fred Singer's organization as the "so-called Science and Environmental Policy Project." People may not all agree that Moon should be "revered" or that Singer's organization is "scientific" and "environmental," but saying that they go by those names is simply a fact, not a point of view.

--Sheldon Rampton 00:10 Jan 16, 2003 (UTC)

OK: having reverted to SR's version, I can now see what the differences are. Essentially they amount to an extended discussion of PR Watch's funding with various gratuitous smears thrown in for flavour. If the smears are edited out, is it worth including? In its entirety, probably not - it is far too long and detailed to balance with the rest of the entry (verging on the "primary source" barrier) and I should like to see some confirmation of its claims before we commit to them. However, perhaps there is some content that ought to be retained.Someone will need to wade through it and see what can be done. Tannin 03:05, 9 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Letting a democrat activist write a self-description of his own political activism is scarcely supportive of a neutral point of view. Rampton removed the phrase "so-called" from a reference to the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy but intentionally omits from the Center's name the identity of the founding family, which gained its fortune from IBM's exploits and from an executive's salary at general motors. Rampton represents himself as an expositor of propaganda but uses his organization and attempts to use Wikipedia to advance his point of view. The lead paragraphs in the article attempt to "clean up" Ramptons shrill hate-language directed at corporate employees by surrounding his hate speech in quotation marks.
If a person cares to do the homework and ADD information to that which is there, or if they care to balance contributions from both sides of a conflict, fine. But deleting information about activists' funding sources is disinformation and will not stand. What we are witnessing is Rampton's usual effort dominate dialogue especially dialogue about his efforts, and to silence opponents while mascarading as a proponant of open democratic dialogue. If you don't plan to participate in free speech, lock the article and describe it as a controversial subject. But don't plan on mascarading as a free speech project if you also plan to favor elite propagandists like Sheldon Rampton and John "chickens cause mad cow" Stauber.

In response to an revision tag noting the oddity that a group would be accused of both left-wing bias and corporate ownership, well, "we report, you decide". Which is not true? Though PR Watch occassionally criticizes the political stance of an environmental group, "disinformation" exposed on the site most often supports the boilerplate platform of the liberal mainstream. And the Schuman Center for Media and Democracy was indeed founded with IBM money. It might be hard for some to comprehend, but the left often tries to preserve their preferred social order with reforms that are not always in the direction that would be chosen by grass-roots or rank-and-file supporters of the well-heeled liberal organizations. The left and the politics of the left are just as prone to corporate interest as are those of the right. The left has largely succeeded, though, in representing itself as the only alternative to corporate control. There are other options that involve local community control of land and industry and that are not popular. Note PR Watch claims to support the "labor movement", but does not mention workers drives to seize control of the factories where laborors otherwise live out their lives in servitude.

Does any of that bizarre ranting above bear on the topic at hand? Tannin

Insulting and name calling does not affect a neutral point of view, not does it promote democratic dialogue. Yes, it made sense to me the first time I read it, and the writers critique of PR Watch and their corporate sponsors offers a fresh analyis that is badly needed in a dualistic environment.

So: the questions to be answered here seem to be:

  • Who is this anon poster and why is he logging in under multiple IPs pretending to be different people?
  • What does he have against PR Watch, and why does he care so much? Was his organisation one of those exposed by PR Watch? Or is there another reason?
  • Why does he spew abuse everywhere and provide misleading edit summaries?
  • Given that we know he is a highly biased and motivated individual (so far as this particular topic is concerned), can we afford to trust the information he is claiming to provide?
  • Or should we delete the whole lot on the grounds that none of it can be trusted?
  • If the answer to that second-last question is "yes" (i.e., we can trust at least part of the information provided), then how much of that vast slab of minutiae should be retained in the article, and what parts should be trimmed out as over-wordy and irrelevant?

Tannin 07:49, 9 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Q. Who is this anon poster and why is he logging in under multiple IPs pretending to be different people?:
A. Why does it matter? Floating IPs are easy to configure and a standard operating procedure for people concerned about on-line privacy for protection against efforts such as this to drag identity into a discussion about circumstances. Who says there is any pretense? The IP listed changes more or less automatically, depending on how the system is configured. What is relevant here is who funds PR Watch, not who took PR Watch's on-line list, quickly searched Google and reported the results easily available to anyone who follows the same process.
Q. What does he have against PR Watch, and why does he care so much?
A. Since when is concern a cause for suspision? This author has observed PR Watch and identified there a pattern of labeling political speech of opponents as "propaganda" while the same linguistic devices are considered truthful speech when used by PR Watch editors. The concern is for integrity of language. No more, no less. Period. No hidden agenda, just frustration at being manipulated for political purposes.
Q Was his organisation one of those exposed by PR Watch?
No. Does this writer really present as a team player or as an individual actor?
Q Or is there another reason?
A. Perhaps. See above. Without revealing personally identifiable information it might be difficult to relate the psychological context that would lead a person to confront, ad hoc, abuses of language among his own allies. Just trust me on this. I've seen leaders mislead and I have the skills to intervene.
Q. Why does he spew abuse everywhere and provide misleading edit summaries?
A. Since when is a point of view "abuse". Why would a person try to cast an opposing or unwelcome point of view as "abuse"? Why does a person so inclined to label opposing viewpoints as abuse use such implausible language as "everywhere" when the discussion is about the content of one specific article and very little of the contributed informaton could even be considered biased, much less abusive? The article was enriched with simple fact, gathered from easily verifiable sources. Perhaps Tannin was not mislead, but simply failed to understand, perhaps due to a lack of effort to understand.
Q. Given that we know he is a highly biased and motivated individual (so far as this particular topic is concerned), can we afford to trust the information he is claiming to provide?
A. PR Watch is a self-described biased organization that opposes the role of corporations and of certain large institutions in modern society. I probably share the same bias, but have little tolerance for people who use the idea of a common enemy to rally support for their cause. PR Watch can be honest about its funding sources, they can acknowledge the information reported here as factual and, if they are truly proud of their efforts, they can explain their acceptance of funding from the heirs for real estate speculators, corporate tycoons and media moguls. My bias is for the integrity of language - a bias any useful Wiki editor should share. But since when is motivation a reason for mistrust? Some courtesy and respect toward the contributor might be in order. And nobody is asking anyone to accept the information on the authority of the author. Select key words - such as the name of the foundations - cut and paste them in Google and you will find the same information reported in the article. Do you think someone just wades into this kind of debate making things up as they go, yet displays genuine concern and a high level of motivation? Think again.
Q. Or should we delete the whole lot on the grounds that none of it can be trusted?
A. Deletion of serious content is vandalism. Suppressing politically relevant information is a move toward fascism. Use of the term "we" is a thinly veiled effort to bully a concensus when there are obvious and meaningful differences to be considered.
Q. If the answer to that second-last question is "yes" (i.e., we can trust at least part of the information provided), then how much of that vast slab of minutiae should be retained in the article, and what parts should be trimmed out as over-wordy and irrelevant?
A. The information is not out of proportion compared to any other article on this Wiki. Look at the article on the first century claimant to the throne of Isreal. It goes on for pages. There are lists of minutea here long enough to build a tower to the moon. Each of the funding sources listed in the current revision of PR Watch is there because they have ties to an interest group - mostly heirs of speculative or corporate fortunes. Leave it and let readers decide if it is relevant to them. Nobody forces anyone to read the content here and there are no complaints in circulaton about limited server space. The author and others have trimmed out "over-wordy" parts of the original addition, striving to maintain the important information about real estate speculators and corporate heirs while toning the language to fit the community standards of Wikipedia.

Now, my turn to ask a few questions. Tannin wrote:"It's impossible to tell what the 211 anon has done here - far too many edits to make sense of"

Q. Why is it impossible? Is what is not possible for Tannin to comprehend impossible for anyone to comprehend? There are far too many edits for who to make sense of? Professional editors handle that much copy in a few minutes. If Tannin is not up to the editorial task, let Mirv handle it. It seems to have been possible for Mirv to sort through the edits, understand the reasoning and to conform the copy to both the writer's intent and the community standard.

Q. Why is Tannin so concerned that somebody offered a contrasting viewpoint in addition to the self-promotion written by the very subject of the article? Can we trust activists to accurately write articles about their own activism?

Q. Why is contributing to this article any more of a campaign that working to improve the accuracy and comprehensiveness of an article on bird watching? How does a couple hours of pro-bono work amount to a campaign? What is wrong with a campaign, per se, anyway? Isn't Wiki a campaign in itself, and aren't many of the efforts going on within the Wiki community campaigns to uphold the integrity of language?


This is an anonymous individual who has an axe to grind because I banned him after a pattern of abusive behavior on the Disinfopedia. I don't want to get involved in the edit war that he's started here on the Wikipedia, but all of the true information that he has posted about the funding for PR Watch was taken from the PR Watch web site, where we make it available at the following URL:

Foundation funding is not our only source of revenue. CMD also receives donations from other sources, including members who subscribe to our newsletter, income from sales of our books, and occasional speaker fees. Additional information about our funding, including copies of our IRS filings, can be found on the Guidestar web site:

I don't have any objection to any of this information being included in the PR Watch profile (although I think it belongs more properly in the article about the Center for Media and Democracy, which publishes PR Watch), but I hope those of you who aren't trying to grind an axe will filter out the distortions and POV invective. Of course it's true that the nonprofit foundations that have funded us received their endowments from wealthy individuals (as is true with all nonprofit foundations of any size), but to claim that we have taken corporate funding or are a front for corporations is ridiculous. --Sheldon Rampton 10:05, 9 Jan 2004 (UTC)

That raises an interesting quandry. It would appear to define a polical dichotomy not of the left and right but between the top and the bottom. Wealth individuals or corporations fund upper-middle class spokespeople to represent the interests of the lower class. Working folks or under-represented groups are left to appeal to those with enough wealth to dictate culture, but are presumed to have no wealth or power without a dependant relationship involving perhaps repentant, but albeit wealthy upper-class citizens.
Aren't there foundations established by legal victories though, Such as those benefeciaries of Morris Dee's legal victories, or other recipients of court judgements? Other foundations rely on individual fundraising. And some who received money, land or endowments from wealth individuals established boards of directors that insured community control and access for under-represented groups. From the information available about directors of organizations that contribute to PR Watch, none would appear, based on credentials listed in several references, to have an income under $50,000 and many appear to have income in the millions of dollars. Can we really trust the wealthy to deconstruct the political rhetoric of the upper classes? Must we accept that the wealthy decide which underclass citizens get to participate in public dialogue?
Sheldon wrote: "This is an anonymous individual who has an axe to grind because ..." Ahh, thankyou. That explains it. I smelled something of that general nature. Tannin
More generally, as I suspect you would be the first to agree, Sheldon, sources of funding are always significant, and making these clear is, I think, a good thing to do with every organisation. I invite Mr Anon IP to put his talents to good use in writing entries on those funds he mentioned in the article. In this entry, that level of detail about outside organisations is clearly off-topic and inappropriate, but I for one would certainly be interested to read more about those funds if he cares to put that information in its proper place. Tannin 10:16, 9 Jan 2004 (UTC)


If you are so good at putting things in their proper place, Tannin, why don't yo do it instead of vandalising someones work and slandering someone you have not even met?

Rampton incorrectly assessed the motivation of this contributor and repeatedly errs, here and elsewhere, by attributing motives to others for his own advantage. Refusing to accept a persons own account of their motivation is a first step toward broken communication. This is not an individual with an axe to grind, this is a person who is not easily silenced by authoritarian bullying, especially when meted out in the name of democratic dialogue.

One of the individuals he supposedly banned from the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy's Disinfopedia voluntarily withdrew some contributions to Rampton's project after Rampton displayed intolerant, biased and offensive behavior. Several individuals have taken issue with Rampton and Co's political activism. The core of the issue relates directly to funding sources. Rampton represents an elite clientele whose rhetoric appeals to a wide audience but whose neo-liberal agenda does not serve the interests of much of that same audience. And note, Rampton acknowledged here the veracity of the information. But he incorrectly reported that the information came from a single source. As stated, the true information came from Ramptons site, from Google searches, and in part from information posted on a site listed as a tobacco-industry funded site. Truth is truth no matter who speaks it. So quit whining, swallow the pill and move on.


On Disinfopedia's page "Report a Vandal" regular Disinfopedia writer "Maynard" refers to another contributor as a "skid". PR Watch director Sheldon Rampton repeatedly reverted to restore the name-calling after another user deleted the slander. "Maynard", Rampton and the other three disinfopedia regular contributors profer the conclusion that all dissident contributors to their project are the same person. This is not correct. Nor is it correct that an AOL user who Mayard describes as a "skid" disagrees with SR about order of battle.

Sheldon Rampton has offered no position on Disinfopedia about order of battle in Bejing beyond a three-word rhetorical phrase. The disagreement involves use of inflamatory rhetoric to avoid accurate discription of complex events. User expects, no, demands that self-styled expositors of propaganda not resort to the same devices used by propagandists. Events of 6/89 are well reported - After Bejing based army units were disarmed and turned back by protesters, some perhaps beaten by protesters beyond control of the non-violent leaders, the rural and more aggressive 27th Army shot its way down Chang Blvd. penetrating several barracades erected by apparently ad hoc and leaderless groups that had sprung up around the core demonstration in the square. By that time, few organized protesters remained in the square. Upon arrival of the 27th, remaining student leaders engaged in what they describe as a nose-to-nose confrontation with 27th commanders. A female student leader asked her group in a voice vote if they wanted to stay or go. The vote was split and she called it a vote to disband. The students were allowed to depart through an area the army had left open. As the students departed, special forces troops turned machine guns on protesters loudspeakers that had been erected to compete with government sound systems erected at the square. Fighting continued throughout the city, mostly involving unled workers, unemployed residents of Bejing and miscellaneous students. A particularly resilient hold-out emerged around a particular bridge, which students and Bejing residents partially controlled for several days after the main battle. Within minutes of soldiers arribal in the square, some fleeing protesters with ties to US diplomats reached the embassy and reported a massacre at the square.

Bolstered by the sound of gunfire from the square, where no US reporters managed to maintain eyewitness privilages, and by innacurate diplomatic dipatches based on hear-say reports from fleeing protesters (contradicted by dispatches days later), the news rapidly spread of a massacre and was reported as fact among most western sources. Accounts often completely lacked detail or reliable eyewitness testimony of deaths in the square by gunfire, though some anchors speculated tents overrun by tanks in the now-vacated square might have been occupied by students, hours after soldiers had cleared the square and restored government control. In days that followed, media outlets scrambled to verify their errant reports. Finally, National Public Radio began reporting what was already told on CBC - that a Spanish TV crew had witnessed the entire sequence and documented no "Tienanman Square Massacre". But many Western liberals - especially from academic quarters - had already embraced the concept of a massacre, and used the concept to prove their bona-fides as non-communists, in an apparent effort to shed a stigma left over from earlier years that most progressives served communist masters. Belief in the myth of a massacre at the square, along with support for the deposed theocratic government of Tibet became a boilerplate requirement for participation in left-wing politics of the US. Accurate descriptions of social change or of electoral processes in the PRC apparently did not serve the propaganda purposes of an US movement focused around maintaining class privilage and focusing dissent on electoral politics rather than economic reform.

It is particularly interesting that a project funded by Ted Turner's Turner Foundation would be so defensive of the propaganda device used to describe the Bejing battle. This is interesting because staff of Turner's Cable News Network were breifly detained and were required to turn off their cameras after the PRC government alleged they were inciting riots in Bejing. Other news reporters were allowed to continue working in the city.

The myth of a Teinanman Square Massacre helped prevent, 20 years after his murder, even mere discussion of what Dr. King called a "radical redistribution of economic power" in the 50 united states of America. Conceptually, "redistribution" is discussed among New York Times reading liberals as "national health care" and "social safety net" but practical discussion that would require liberals to donate to poor blacks rather than to GreenPeace and other organizations funded by industrialists heirs are not welcome in liberal circles. Events described here as a "grudge" and in which various dissident contributors to this main-stream leftists project are lumped together as a lone individual typify the bullying, "my way or no way" leadership that emerged in the American left after the momentum of the Poor Peoples Movement was dissipated by murder of the most prominant economic reformer of our time.

Yawn. Please do try to keep your arguments with Sheldon Rampton where they belong: somewhere else. Wikipedia is not a soapbox, and talk pages are not the place for partisan wranglings only tangentially related to the subject of the article. — No-One Jones (talk) 19:57, 21 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I'm not terribly sorry that you are gasping for oxygen. Control of autonomic functions requires adapting an inner locus of control; if someone's statement "makes" you yawn, simply liberate yourself from their influence.
Otherwise, since this article was largely authored by Sheldon Rampton, since Sheldon Rampton's project is funded by Ted Turner's Turner Foundation, since Rampton is using his Turner-funded soapbox to advance myths about the 1989 battle for Bejing, and since Rampton has repeatedly used several sysadmin devices to control an ostensibly "open" Wiki project which he promotes here on his Wiki vanity page, discussion of PR Watch's politics and policies vis-a-vis the 1989 battle are relevant.

Also, Mr. Jones, Mr. Rampton opened the door to discussing his take on Bejing in '89 when he alleged here that revisions to an article here that he authored were motivated by a disagreement over those events, and not over a disagreement about how language should be used to describe circumstances, as asserted by the other party in this debate. Likewise, at least on a talk page, reference to Mr. Rampton's policies at his own site about which he writes are as relevant as are his own references here to advocacy articles published on his own site.

Sheldon Rampton[edit]

I don't have the patience to read through all of the above, but when I read the article, I find myself asking "who is Sheldon Rampton and what is his relation to PR Watch?" The article fails to explain.-- Jmabel 04:46, 25 Jan 2004 (UTC)

He wrote some of the comments above, as per his sig, edited the article some, as per page history and is a principle subject of the article.
If Sheldon Rampton is the subject of the article, is it right he should be editing this page? Is that not against the conflict of interests clause that Wikipedia is built on? If I'm correct, shouldn't all of Mr. Rampton's changes be deleted? Incidentally, would Mr. Rampton not be outraged if a PR agent edited the page of one of their clients?
This is the talk page for this article, not the article itself. Wikipedia does not have a policy of any sort suggesting that it is inappropriate for people to comment on the talk pages of articles which mention them. It does generally discourage people from directly editing articles about themselves (although there are notable exceptions; for example, Jimmy Wales has edited his own article). In any case, that last time prior to today that I even edited this talk page was two years ago. As for my edits to the article itself, I did make a fairly significant edit in January 2003 when I was first becoming acquainted with Wikipedia and did not know that this was discouraged, but my only edits since then have been extremely minor. In one place I put double brackets around a phrase to make it a hyperlink. In another I corrected an obvious error based on confusion between my organization, the Center for Media and Democracy and the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, which is an entirely separate organization.
Finally, I should point out that CMD sponsors our own wiki, SourceWatch, and in fact SourceWatch does not have a policy against self-editing (although we encourage people to do so under their own names rather than anonymously). So, no, I would not be outraged if a PR firm edited the page of one of their clients, provided they did so transparently and did not try to force their interpretation onto the article against the wishes of other users. --Sheldon Rampton 04:22, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Page needs updating[edit]

As the Executive Director and publisher of, I am trying to adhere to the Wikipedia preference that interested parties not edit pages about them, and so I am writing here to ask someone to please update this page. It is not accurate in several respects. We no longer publish PRWatch as a quarterly print publication or the spin of the day as a separate published piece, but we do maintain the website of that name and a weekly newsletter. Also, the staff information and relationship to other sites is not accurate.

I am pasting below a copy of what the page would look like if I were editing it directly with the corrections I propose:

PR Watch is a website whose stated mission is to expose deceptive and misleading public relations campaigns. It frequently writes about PR campaigns which it considers to be anti-environmental but also covers issues ranging from labor rights to world affairs. It is published by the Center for Media and Democracy, which was founded by John Stauber and is now led by Lisa Graves.


The PR Watch web site also offers daily and weekly reporting on public relations, propaganda and mass media, along with a weekly newsletter. Its sister site is SourceWatch, (formerly Disinfopedia) project, a specialized wiki encyclopedia about propaganda and public relations campaigns. And, it is also related to, another publication of the Canter for Media and Democracy.


PR Watch and the Center for Media and Democracy reported receiving funding from a number of organizations founded by heirs of industrial and real estate fortunes. Their reported funding sources have included, among others, the Bydale Foundation, Careth Foundation, Carolyn Foundation, Changing Horizons Charitable Trust, CS Fund, Deer Creek Foundation, Educational Foundation of America, Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, Grodzins Fund, Jenifer Altman Foundation, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, Rockwood Fund, Roy and Niuta Titus Foundation, Stern Family Fund, Town Creek Foundation, and the Turner Foundation.

External links[edit]

Category:Publications about public relations

I would like to update the PR Watch page[edit]

Hi: I would like to update the PR Watch page with the text in my sandbox. I'm a novice editor so I would really appreciate it if someone would take a look at the changes I have made. Thank you!

Pat Barden (talk) 00:04, 26 July 2012 (UTC)