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CommaKazi Speek

A blog (weblog) containing harsh realities, bitter truths and other reasons to smile

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Bad Winds Bring Out The Good In People

Please help Gerard Braud, a professional communicator who has suffered from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, but wishes to help others by communicating on-site. As he just stated to me when I called him at an emergency center, "We have a million people who cannot get the information they need. We need to do something ingenious here."

Gerard is ready to plant himself where he can focus on crisis communication and information sharing in the areas where everyone else is busy dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane. We need to get him in, and so pass this information along so that someone helps him!

Gerard has two ways to be contacted now: 1) text message at 504-908-8188, and 2) temporary email (his regular site is down) at gbraud@spamarrest.com

Here is what he wrote on the official blog of the International Association of Business Communicators (which you are encouraged to pass along to other bloggers):
(Aug. 30, 2005, 8:47 am)
HELP. Please, please, please help. This is Gerard Braud. I have evacuated safely from New Orleans, but now I am trying to return home to offer my services as a communicator. Specifically I an trying to get to Covington, Louisiana to help in St. Tammany Parish. The problem is, there is no way to get information to anyone in an official capacity who can get me in to help. I need an official police or emergency vehicle to get from Destin, Florida to Covington, Louisiana. Only official vehicles are allowed on the interstate.

As with most disasters, everyone is busy handling the crisis and no one is communicating. I have a broadcast camera and computer editing in my car. If I can get in, I can drive back out to places with power to get this information out to citizens who need it. ONE MILLION people are trying to get official information and there is NO SOURCE FOR IT. One Million people will be HOMELESS for week and don’t know it yet. I have the tools and the know how. I just need a way in.

If you know anyone, ANYONE, who can help, we need you desperately. I need someone at the Federal FEMA level who can cut through red tape and show interest in my offer to help lift some of the communications burden.

I am currently camped out at an Emergency Operations Center in Florida, where they are trying to help me facilitate my offer.

If you see this posting, please contact me at 504-908-8188 (text message) or gbraud@spamarrest.com.

My e-mail is not working. I will look for your postings here.

Because the TV networks are showing the same footage over and over, and only a few dramatic interviews, my goal is to gather official information that I can bring back out to TV and Radio Stations, as well as websites, so other evacuations have real info. Official government websites are down because the servers are only based locally and there is no power–there are no phone lines.

We need to think outside the box. I need brain power and the networking capability of this global organization for us to do something BIG.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Compass for Ethical Guidance

When I recently posted on the topic of ethics, I didn't know that the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) was about to publish an article on the topic in its publication, Communication World (CW). Research findings included in the September-October CW article were even more surprising--and disturbing.

Last year, the IABC Research Foundation funded a study of ethics and communication, conducted by researchers at the University of Houston (Texas) School of Communications. The team was led by professor Shannon Bowen, who stated in the study proposal,

"Recent corporate scandals, such as Enron, have heightened the urgency of re-evaluating the ethics of business communication."
Based on the response of 1,800 communicators to an online survey, the urgency is to actually teach communicators about ethical communication practices. Only 20 percent of the survey respondents had completed at least one course on ethics, and only one-third stated that their employer provided training or study opportunities in ethics! Not surprisingly, the CW article author, Gloria S. Walker, ABC, FRSA, summarizes that the majority of communicators "may not be well prepared to handle situations that arise in their day-to-day work."

Walker then states that, in addition to the codes of ethics that many companies and associations like the IABC promote, communicators need guidance. She asks,

"Where can practitioners find this guidance? That is the issue we must begin to address."

Begin to address? We should never have stopped addressing ethical behavior in schools and in associations like IABC. But before we blame society and our educational system for once again failing our youth, consider the possibility that our fellow practitioners are letting themselves--and their profession--down by not caring enough about the subject to determine their own solid moral compasses.

Wow, am I grateful that my family instilled basic ethical standards in me that later were reinforced in legal and ethics courses in journalism courses. Although I've made some dumb choices over the years, I've rarely had to ask someone else for guidance. I usually let my "conscience be my guide," and that works pretty well. But it does help to have a coworker or other colleague who can help hold us accountable for our decisions.

Given the IABC Research Foundation survey results, that solution isn't applicable to the majority of communicators today. That is very bad news.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Blogs, Blogs, Blogs=Blah, Blah, Blah?

A New York Times editorial today titled, "Measuring the Blogosphere," provides recent estimates by Technorati, a Web site that indexes blogs, on the number of existing blogs. The statistics quoted in the editorial are enlightening, but even more so are the following two points:

But blogs are often just a way of making oneself appear on the Internet...

Every day the blogosphere captures a little more of the strange immediacy of the life that is passing before us.

I created this blog primarily to try this new communication channel. As the NY Times editorial points out, however, I also was motivated by the opportunity to become more visible on the Internet, and to journal some of the daily experiences that the Times refers to as "the strange immediacy of the life that is passing before us."

An IABC colleague asked me earlier today how I find time to write these posts. The recent infrequency of new posts here probably indicates that I haven't found much time. But I am also contributing to the IABC Cafe blog, and am actually trying to earn my pay in my day job.

I also try to write something that brings value to you as a reader. If I fail to do that, I fail to make this blog more than a modified "vanity page." That would be blah, blah, blah!