Full-court press releases

Slipping through my SPAM filter the other day was a press release, headlined “KKK Director Invites Obama/McCain to Speak at Conference.” It begins (reproduced as sent):

“On August 7th, Pastor Thomas Robb, National Director of The Knights Party (aka Knights of the Ku Klux Klan) issued an invitation to presidential hopefuls, Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain to speak to their annual leadership conference over the week-end of August 29, 30 &31. While the invitation is sincere and an acceptance by the candidates would be welcome, Pastor Robb is confident that both candidates are more interested in pandering to ethnic minorities than addressing the issues of concern to White Christians.”

As of Wednesday morning (Aug. 13), the KKK site did not mention an acceptance by either candidate, though it let visitors know that “[d]espite some rumors, the Ku Klux Klan is not endorsing Barack Obama for President.” Not surprisingly, the mainstream media did not jump on this story.

Thanks to the power of e-mail, all sorts of organizations can dash off “news” without the expense of faxing or mailing. (Five-cent photocopies and 42-cent stamps add up.) You don’t have to have the legitimacy of Chico State, the resources of PETA or the imprimatur of the White House to get a message out to editors nationwide, who might get that message out to the nation.

So press releases—aka news releases, news flashes, headlines, announcements, alerts, etc.—come by the hundreds. That doesn’t include the number of commentaries from lobbyists, think tanks and other individuals and groups.

It’s as much art as science to decide which deserve a quick read rather than a Ctrl-click Trash. Value is subjective, so while certain criteria automatically trigger the newsworthy reaction, there’s plenty of wiggle and giggle room.

The CN&R can’t cover everything, even if we wanted to. In case you’re wondering what you’ve missed, here are a few excerpts from the past week (shared, like above, as received):

• “The California Assembly Democratic Caucus has released a new video, “Our Budget, Our Values,” to provide Californians with a quick update on the state budget crisis.”

• “Advocates of dismantling Social Security in favor of a riskier privatized retirement plan have been spreading fears that shortfalls in the system will leave today’s young workers out in the cold. A new analysis from a young researcher at the Economic Policy Institute, timed to the program’s 73rd anniversary, shows that those fears are unfounded.”

• “The Yes on Proposition 8, ProtectMarriage.com campaign—also known as the California Marriage Protection Act—announced today that Catholics for ProtectMarriage.com, led by the Knights of Columbus, California Catholic Conference and Catholics for the Common Good, has been established as the official Catholic grassroots effort dedicated to passing Proposition 8.”

• “Three months from today, at 10 a.m. on November 13, millions of southern Californians will drop to the ground, take cover under a table or desk, and hold on. An earthquake prediction? No. But it is certain that the Great Southern California ShakeOut is on track to being the largest earthquake drill in United States history.”

• “New research from Green for Good of Seattle, WA shows that multi-service edge routers from Redback Networks, an Ericsson company, use only 50% of the energy as compared to competitors, and deliver up to 3 times the environmental benefits in reduced carbon emissions.”

So, who wants to screen my e-mail? Thought not.