Case 7-2 Alar and PR: Getting To the Core of the Apple Problem Questions for discussion
To carry out its work, a public interest organization such as NRDC must maintain a staff of administrators, scientists and researchers, lawyers, public relations practitioners and others -- either employees or consultants. Because NRDC has no products or services to sell, in the usual sense, funds must be raised through memberships, contributions and events to cover its budget. To what extent might this consideration influence the preparation, release and promotion of a highly visible, controversial report such as the one on Alar? Do you think that the public that is the target of such campaigns, which are carried on by all public interest organizations as an important part of their illusions, is aware of this possible self-interest? If the public should be aware, whose responsibility is it to make them so? a.
Because of the way groups like the NRDC need to be supported, objectivity is at risk. The people who are big financial supporters of such groups may expect their personal agendas to be taken care of and the groups they support may want to keep them happy. It’s unlikely that the public is aware of this because it’s human nature to accept what you already believe in and not question its source. We usually only want to know how it affects us personally. b.
While groups could note the source of funds on a report, it wouldn’t be in their best interest. This would call into question the objectivity issue that many people wouldn’t have otherwise thought of. It’s up to individuals to question what they believe or don’t believe.
Why would the public listen to an obvious non-expert such as Meryl Streep on a scientific topic like this? Critics of such celebrity involvement in issues called her a “Hollywood toxicologist.” Are you aware of any similar incidents? a.
Meryl Streep is not a scientist and may or may not have known all the facts of the case before she became the...
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