Greenpeace Just Kidding About Armageddon

“In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world’s worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE],” the sheet said.

The Greenpeace spokesman who issued the memo, Steve Smith, told the Web site that a colleague was making a joke in a draft that was then mistakenly released. —Greenpeace Just Kidding About Armageddon (Washington Post (will expire))

I frequently find freshman research papers that uncritically cite “facts” found on activist websites. The simple fact that a Greenpeace employee made a mistake does not invalidate the environmental concerns of the entire organization, but it does hint at the set of rules that activist groups are not playing by when they choose facts for press releases.

A journalist’s job is to look at multiple sides of the issue. A PR person’s job is to put the most positive possible spin on one particular side of the issue — the side that signs the PR person’s paycheck.