The other morning I heard on the radio that “President Obama is coming out against swag”. Well, the headline worked, it got my attention then, it pissed me off. Not because I’m all gung-ho about coffee cups or branded pens. No, it ticked me off because the presentation of this story is just another shining example of the level the to which, the media has sunk.
President Obama signed an executive order banning the purchase of promotional items with tax payer dollars. I disagree with eliminating swag completely, but that is for another blog post. If you read far enough in the article, you learn that this same executive order also mandated a 20% reduction in requisitions of cell phones, computers, travel and the executive fleet. To my way of thinking, THAT is the story. Sadly our attention spans have been diminished to the point that I bet most people never got that far. All they heard was ‘no more swag’ and really how much money can eliminating pens and coffee cups save?
There were actually two iterations of the story by the Jim Kuhnhenn of the Associated Press. This is the story I heard practically verbatim on the radio (let’s hear it for originality! YAY!). The next day I was reading my local paper and came across this version of the story.
This second version is even more intriguing because it talks about the four finalists of a cost-savings contest run for government employees. This, THIS I want to know about. We all know the times are tight. No one really likes having to do more with less, but is a fact of life these days. The only way we are going to get our economy back on its feet is if everyone does their part. I want to hear stories about how people are doing the same with less.
The lead on the first article “President Obama is coming out against swag.” is everything a good lead sentence should be; concise, and attention getting and it also meets the most crucial of today’s media standards, it is controversial. (You just know some swag provider is out there right now. Launching a “SAVE THE SWAG” campaign, but again I digress.)
My point is this, the article could have focused on the winners of the cost saving initiative, it could have talked concretely about cell phone usage or laptop assignments to government employees. It could have been constructive, but instead, it opted to play the elimination card.
Is swag overused? Yeah probably. Is it is an effective tool when selected carefully? Oh yeah.
Do we always have to be out to get any sitting president?
Well, it sells.
Am I nuts? Was this a good portrayal of the situation? What do you want would you like to see covered in the news?