Monday, April 14, 2008


Unfortunately, they're a part of politics.

The "they" I am referring to are the cheap and low politicians who find it easier to fire personal attacks at each other rather than focus on critical issues that affect their constituents. Sadly, however, the mudslinging has now gone beyond its conventional cheapskate boundaries and has started to overtake those few who once stood as a living rejection to "business as usual" in Washington. I willingly admit that I mentally cringe each time I see Barack Obama's name in the news for anything but great judgement, leadership or vision. More and more often, it seems, I'm seeing his name next to classic journalistic verb phrases like: "fires back," or "lashes out," or "slings mud."

Of course, he's not alone. Back when the race for the White House was nearly 20 people strong, the candidates couldn't bathe fast enough to keep themselves mud-free. And of course, as they dipped themselves back down into the soapy water, they'd huck a few mudballs themselves. Remember how ugly the Republican race was between Romney and, well...everyone? Mitt was the target of a number of blows. But, let's not feel sorry for the guy. It is an irrefutable fact that he was the first one to run a negative ad campaign in the days and weeks preceding the Iowa caucuses.

The bottom line is this: we don't want to hear about it. To hell with your petty debacles over who did drugs in high school, or who believes in the Book of Mormon. Is this solving the immigration crisis? The inevitable recession? How about the Iraq disaster? No? Well then shut up and get to work and forget about the pointless banter that is only swelling the already growing disconnect between the American people and their elected officials.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

An Afternoon with a Flaming Liberal

Yesterday I had the opportunity to listen Markos Moulitsas speak at Utah State University. I know, I know. You're thinking, "Who the heck is Markos Moulitsas?" I found myself in a similar predicament until last week when I saw a poster advertising his coming. One simple Google search later I was moderately acquainted with one of the premiere names in political blogging.

Moulitsas is the author and creator of "Daily Kos," which is a blog that addresses politics and government from a liberal and more progressive standpoint. It receives several hundreds of thousands of hits a day, and has partnered up with prominent names in government, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and former President Jimmy Carter. Moulitsas started the blog in 2002 as an outlet for his frustrations with the Bush Administration and the Iraq War. He was one of the few people (along with Barack Obama and myself) who saw the war as a mistake from the beginning. He used the internet as an outlet, and since then has become a trailblazer in the ever-evolving blogging media.

I found the lecture very satisfactory, mostly because I was surrounded by people who share my obsession with politics (in varying degrees). What was even more rewarding is that these people were, for the most part, liberals and progressives, which meant that I wasn't scrutinized for my leftist comments and questions - a rarity for anyone who calls the Beehive State home. There were, of course, a few conservatives in the crowd, but their comments were fair and they were respectfully interested in what Mr. Moulitsas had to say. I like that. I encourage that. It's the people who are so far removed from reality and think that Bush isn't a failure of a president who upset me.

I learned a lot throughout the hour and a half of Q & A, including the fact that Moulitsas is convinced that the race for the Democratic nomination is over. He mentioned how Hillary Clinton had long lost the race, and that it was just a matter of her accepting that. I loved to hear him talk like that, because I've had mild heartburn for the last 12 months in worry that Hillary would get the Democratic nod. Now don't get me wrong - I like Hillary. She's a good politician and a powerful leader. She's led an impressive life and will undoubtedly have a bright future - I just like Obama more. He's everything that Hillary is, but isn't so polarizing, and thus able to bring more people together in a campaign for peace, stability and security. So, for me to hear Moulitsas - who obviously knows more than I do when it comes to the scene in Washington - say that it's over was very satisfying.

Of course, I'm reserving a small portion of my mind to play the skeptic and say that the race isn't over till it's over, but my hope in Obama's campaign just received a good shot in the arm, and those are always welcome. I'll hopefully be getting another on April 22 when Obama upsets Hillary in the Pennsylvania primary.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Young Voters and the Future of America

As I’ve obsessively followed this year’s presidential election, I’ve been surprised on a number of occasions. I was surprised when Mitt Romney, a man hailed for his faith and integrity, was the first Republican candidate to run a negative ad campaign in Iowa. I was surprised at how fast Rudy Guiliani’s front-runner status disintegrated. I was surprised (and pleasantly, I might add) that Barack Obama was able to win 11 contests in a row while simultaneously taking the delegate lead away from Hillary Clinton. But a statistic that has surprised and continues to surprise is the fact that young voters are picking themselves up by the bootstraps after being trodden upon by critics and cynics alike for the last 50+ years, and are making their voices heard by Washington and the rest of the country.

Examining our current national status, I think it’s safe to say that things are ugly. American politics are riddled with scandal, dishonesty and corruption. One would be lucky to turn the TV or radio on without learning of another elected official or Washington bigwig trapped in a web of their own lies. We’re mired in a foreign policy blunder that is sadly rivaling the Vietnam War, and the economy is crisis. To say that the political scene in America is bleak would be an understatement.

And yet, despite this obvious tribulation, there is something uncharacteristically comforting about the state of the union and its future: young people. Yes, young people; the hippies, the gas station employees, the struggling college students and the Fulbright scholars. They are the sliver of sunshine in an overcast political arena.

See, there are lots of us out there, and for the most part we're pretty opinionated. But for as far back as records of our demographic have been kept, we've been underrepresented and written off (justifiably so) by politicians and pundits. But no one can now deny that young voters aren't pulling their weight.

Some people think it's Obama's speeches, others think it's to make sure Hillary doesn't win. Who cares. I pat all of them on the back for dusting off their voting hat and throwing it back into the ring.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

2310 - Media Pitch


Dear Mr. Hunsaker,

I'm writing to you to make you aware of the Cache Valley Area Investors Association, a new and upcoming non-profit organization based in Logan to help educate the average joe in all things financial. From taxes to property investment, from bankruptcy to setting up a trust fund, the CVAIA's main purpose is to provide its members with the basics of financial investments and crisis control.

The group was founded by Preston Parker of Logan. Parker felt inspired to start the group after reading such financial books as "The Millionaire Next Door," and "Rich Dad, Poor Dad." Although Parker lacks a former education in finance, business or accounting, he's learned the ropes of investment through taking risks and learning from his experiences and mistakes.

The club meets every other Thursday in the conference room of the Cache Chamber of Commerce in downtown Logan. For more interested they can call Preston directly at 435.555.8830, or email him at

Jackson Olsen

Monday, February 25, 2008



The ASUSU Executive Council could be giving the annual officer election process a makeover within the month, ASUSU President Peter McChesney said.

McChesney, who authored the new student legislation, said it would make the election process "smoother" for both candidates and voters alike. In part because there would be fewer elected positions, and, if the proposed legislation is passed, elections would last only one week rather than two.

Other than these, the most notable changes would be the advent of a presidential/vice presidential ticket, where a presidential candidate would select a running mate before elections begin. The two would run and campaign together against other similarly paired opponents, and would win or lose together.

"The majority of other colleges and universities are doing it this way," McChesney said. "To be honest, Utah State's been stuck in the past and I think it's time for a change." Click here to see how other universities conduct their elections.

Another substantial change would be that the president would then weigh in to appoint other students to the Executive Council's positions. Currently each spot on the council is an elected position. Click here to see a listing of positions and a description of ASUSU's current structure.

But President McChesney's optimism for the legislation and confidence in its success is not shared by all of his ASUSU associates. While most are in favor of the proposal, including HASS Senator Nick West, Executive Vice President Ashley Johnson, and Service VP German Ellsworth, members like Kevin Abernathy, the academic senate president, are against it.

Referring to the presidential powers of appointing his entire cabinet, Abernathy said that it gives "too much power [to] one individual."

The real question, however, is what the students will think of all this. If the proposed changes were to be approved by the Executive Council and the Academic Senate, then the decision would be left up to the students: ticket, or no ticket? Change, or no change?

So far, students have remained somewhat apathetic to the issue. An article similar to this one was published in the Utah Statesman several weeks ago, but is still waiting to receive any feedback from students, positive or negative.

For now, the pending legislation has been put on the backburner as this year's election cycle is already in full swing, with primary voting starting tomorrow. McChesney said he plans to push the amendment through before his term of service expires in May.

JCOM 2300 - Press Release Analysis


2. was quick to praise Honda's 2008 Civic GX for once again taking top honors of "Greenest Car" at the ACEEE Awards. The article was well-written and complimentary of the newest Civic for doing what its predecessors had done 5 years in a row - take first place. The article went into more detail about how Honda has had a history for making fuel efficient vehicles, and how unless something radical happens in management, they'll be looking to continue their award-winning, environment-saving ways.

The article was largely positive to Honda, but didn't forget to mention the "10 meanest cars" and how they compared to the "10 greenest cars." Among the less desirables were model vehicles from Ferrari, Bentley, and other gas guzzling machines that don't cite the environment as their No. 1 concern.

3. I was motivated to find this article in part because I own a Honda Civic (although it's no hybrid), and I've been impressed for several years now with the Honda Corporation in general. Their main website had more than enough access to various press releases that had been written by the company over the last several weeks, months and years.

I felt that the story itself was very relevant to the original press release, portions of it being taken as a boiler plate and thrown directly into the article. There were no customer testimonials, but that's something that I as PR Director at Honda certainly would have done. Honda cars are verbally viral. People like them and tell their friends about them. Then their friends by them. Customer testimonials would have been a wise addition to this particular press release.

For a press release to be effective, it's got to be attention grabbing, and it's got to do it quick. Editors are busy people with other things on their minds than delving deeply into each and every press release that comes across their desk. This press release was effective because it immediately told the reader that Honda had won another major award - that sticks. Had they started out by saying that Honda fares well against the competition when it comes to emission standards, the editor's yawn would begin as the press release reached the bottom of the trash can. For this reason, I felt that this press release was not only well written, but well strategized.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

2310 - Final Press Release

For Immediate Release
The Associated Students of Utah State University
Logan, Utah

In an effort to bring student rights to the forefront of state legislators, student representatives from Utah State University traveled to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, making their presence known not only with their words, but also with famous Aggie Ice Cream.

The student lobbyists were organized under Ashley Johnson, Executive Vice President of the Associated Students of USU. The group, which consisted of a broad range of students from varying colleges, meet regularly on campus to discuss student rights and bills that have a direct effect on them. After collaboration, training and advising from numerous guest speakers during the fall semester, the group gets the opportunity every spring to put their newly-acquired knowledge to work by lobbying in Salt Lake City.

"This is a great group," Johnson said. "Everyone helps to contribute to our cause, which is simply to let our senators and representatives know that we care about what goes on up here."

Johnson went on to say that college students face an uphill battle when working with state legislators being plagued by the stereotype of low voter turnouts and political apathy. That, Johnson said, is something this group of students is trying to disprove.

Wednesday was considered an overwhelming success by the group, due mostly to the fact that the bills they were in favor for were widely discussed with various state congressman, albeit over ice cream. The group reported meeting with prominent and senior members of the senate including Senator Lyle Hillyard from Logan, Utah and Senator Dorothy Dayton from Utah Valley. In the House of Representatives, Congressman Fred Hunsaker, Jack Draxler, and Jim Webb were among those courted by the USU students.

"The issues are real. They are important," said Casey Anderson, a junior majoring in Political Science. "The ice cream is just a way for us to grab people's attention."

This was the group's fifth trip to the Capitol in the last two months, but their efforts for this congressional cycle are coming to a close. They plan to make one last trip to Salt Lake City next week before the winter session of Congress ends in early March.

Media Contact:

Jackson Olsen