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Archive for January, 2008

In case you haven’t heard, Margaret Truman Daniel, the only child of former president and Missouri native Harry S. Truman, died on Tuesday.
A Reuters story about the life of Margaret Truman Daniel also shed some interesting light on the fiercely paternalistic nature of the former president, after whom the MU School of Public Affairs is named (not to mention the school mascot).
Here’s an excerpt from the Reuters story:

After Washington Post music critic Paul Hume panned one of (Margaret Truman Daniel’s) vocal recitals — “Miss Truman cannot sing very well” — Truman responded from the White House that the review was “poppycock” and the critic was a “frustrated old man” who was “off the beam.”

“Some day I hope to meet you,” the president wrote Hume … “When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!”

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Not Just Another Lecture

Sitting through an hour long lecture is usually not the most exciting aspect of my day. In fact I don’t think sitting through an hour long lecture has ever excited me at all (don’t get me wrong, lectures are great and a very important aspect to University curriculums, just not exciting). Except for today.

Today Cardinal John P. Foley was my teacher. Dressed in a black robe with red ribbing he sat in front of our Public Relations class and spoke about his experience in the ever changing media world. From a young boy who loved the radio to organising aspects of Pope John Paul II’s funeral, Foley’s story was amazing, inspiring, exciting.

As a young journalism student myself, I was inspired by this great man in front of me. He was successful because he worked hard, challenged himself (and the people and institutions around him), and most of all believed in himself. But what inspired me the most was that Cardinal Foley was funny.

With all the pressure and expectation that he faces in his job each day, Cardinal Foley maintained a great sense of humour. And it was this humour that made us all sit up and listen. Through this, Foley engaged with his audience and I don’t think that one student left that lecture disappointed.

However, the lecture was not just fun and games. It was a PR class and Foley gave us three main truths that make a great PR/Media professional.

  • Never Lie. Always, always, always tell the truth.
  • Do not exploit people – don’t make people think that it is more important to have than to be.
  • Make sure your communication serves the common good – be dedicated to improving society.

Cardinal Foley’s lecture was dedicated to truth and honesty. He said, “Be good. But if you can’t be good be honest about not being good… Handle controversy with honesty.”

And that’s what I learn’t from the lecture. Oh and that it is possible to love and enjoy your job.

Cardinal John P. Foley is giving another lecture Is Religion Still Good News? Friday February 1st 7pm at St. Thomas More Newman Center.

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Master of His Domain?

Late last week, I reported the developments involving a disagreement between MU and a fan blogger, Richard Lozano, who owns the domain name missouritigers.com. The university took issue primarily with Lozano’s sale of unlicensed T-shirts, but it also asked in a letter that he cease using the domain name. Originally, the angle of the story was to report the university’s threat to sue Lozano if he didn’t stop selling the shirts. But throughout the day, the story changed.

Lozano agreed to take down a separate Web site where he was selling merchandise, and the university said it would take no further action against him.

Earlier in the day, I had interviewed Lozano an attorney from St. Louis, and he had said that he would be willing to defend himself legally if the situation presented itself. Currently, that looks like it wouldn’t be necessary. But in a legal sense, at least in the rights of keeping the domain name, Lozano may have had a case.

In talking to several lawyers from both local and Missouri metropolitan law firms, the university’s request to Lozano to cease using missouritigers.com could have become a sticky situation in Internet trademark law. The University had not filed for the trademark of “Missouri Tigers” until late September of 2004, and Lozano has owned the domain name since 2001.

At issue is the concept of common law trademarks. Although Lozano registered the site before MU registered the trademark, “common law” trademarks deal with the often abstract concept of how far the recognizability of a certain term reaches. In otherw rods, for how long has and from how far away does the term “Missouri Tigers” conjure up images of Mizzou athletics in others’ mind? That’s what is up for debate. Another potential issue involves whether the site missouritigers.com (being all one word) is in violation with the university’s two-word trademark.

Another question for the university to ponder involves their upcoming interdpeparmental meeting on developing a Web-based trademark policy. MU must ask itself how far it wishes to go to establish its exclusivity and yet feel like they can give fans open forums to discuss sports on the Web.

Either way, as the Internet continues to influence society in innumerable ways, we must also ask ourselves just how far old laws should be applied to new concepts and how many adaptations must be made to make them workable in today’s world.

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Next week MU will hold a Chancellor’s Forum, open to the public, titled Battle of the Pentagon Papers to discuss the Pentagon Papers and relevant issues related to them.

It is the latest in a series of forums on global issues sponsored by the Chancellor’s Office and the MU Difficult Dialogues Program which is funded by the Ford Foundation.

Past Chancellor’s Forums have included: Difficult Dialogues in the Immigration Debate, A Journalists First Responsibility: Professional Practice of Citizen’s Duty?, and What’s Happened to Academic Freedom since September 11?

According to the MU Difficult Dialogues website, the goal is to stimulate intellectual discussion and to teach students to express opposing view points respectfully.

Panelists will include Charles Davis, executive director of National Freedom of Information Coalition and associate professor of journalism at MU; Bill Kovach, founding chairman of Committee of Concerned Journalists and professor of journalism at MU and Christina Wells Enoch H. Crowder professor of Law at MU, said the Office of the Chancellor’s website.

Following the Chancellor’s Forum LA Theatre Work’s will present their production of Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers as part of the University Concert Series, said the Office of the Chancellor’s website. A question-and-answer session will follow the performance. For more on the play see http://www.topsecretplay.org.

The Chancellor’s Forum will be held Wednesday, January 30, 3:30-5 p.m. in Ellis Auditorium and will be free to the public. Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers will be performed Saturday, February 2, 7 p.m. in Jesse Auditorium. Tickets will cost between $18 and $22.

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