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Thank you so much for visiting my blog. This blog is designed to illustrate my work, my skills and my passion for Marketing, Communications and Public Relations as well as provide a resting place for my thoughts and feelings about current issues.

Please visit my tabs above and categories to side for: About Kelly, Writing Examples, My Resume, PR Examples. Below are fun, sometimes serious blog posts illustrating my thoughts and feelings about current issues or items of personal relevance.

Please contact me with questions regarding my work. I look forward to talking with you! 

Contact information is available upon request: kmacdonald1521@gmail.com

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This movie was powerful.

This is the kind of movie that makes you wonder why you were born in middle class America when so many others are born into a world of everyday suffering. I was so impressed at the maturity of the youth. Yes, there were times when they were foolhardy, but their ability to survive, however unsavory the means, was impressive. They were creative and ingenuous with their survival strategies. But it was hard and sad to watch. Yes the ending was happy, but the life of Jamal was so long and so hard, it makes me wonder how many others live their whole lives with no happy ending. This movie was a definite culture shock, I learned a great deal about India and the life of people outside of my American bubble. Here are three things I learned about India in regards to international business:

 

 

            In the course of one mans life India has grown and changed. In the movie the two brothers sit and look out into the place they used to call their slum in childhood, now it is a business center. India is has become less of another developing nation and is now on the fast track to becoming a world power. While this population growth will help bolster India into prominence, the sheer numbers of their people and the vast inequity in living conditions may keep India from truly thriving for years to come.

            Second, I liked the chance to see outsourcing from the source. For so long U.S. citizens and companies have complained about the pains of the people involved in outsourcing. When I watched this film however I saw hundreds of people in a nation deprived of jobs, working and earning an honest, worthwhile wage. Yes, perhaps they are making less than American workers, but I’ll bet they are making more than so many more Indians left to the slums. I see those jobs as a way out of poverty. For that reason, I am not so sure outsourcing is the evil it is made out to be.

            Lastly, it was the score of human rights violations because of the lack of government intervention which made me pause.  In a place where children are lost forever with no means of protection makes me wonder what the implications are for businesses. Does the increased FDI help these countries help themselves to increase police help, child services and lawful standards of conduct? I hope so, but I do not know. From what I witnessed it was standard practice to lose track of children, for the police to do nothing, and to never feel safe. But the people were survivors. For this reason I see the potential in this country for investment. I see a country that is poised on the brink of greatness. But I hope the children and the weak of this population are not left behind.

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            The Commercial Appeal, a Tennessee newspaper, has published a searchable database of the identities of all possessors of concealed weapons permits. This database can be accessed by anyone on the newspaper’s web site. Users can search by name, city or zip code to find people who hold the permit. The information is already available from the Department of Safety requests for information, the newspaper simply made it easier. The paper said it is simply trying to gather and present the most information possible to the community, including restaurant cleanliness scores and soon sex offender and real estate transactions. But naysayers say this information is an invasion of privacy, and the newspaper has gone too far. The opposition believes the nature of a concealed weapon’s permit is private, often because of fear. They believe these people will be victimized and targeted, perhaps even burglarized with their addresses posted on the web site.

It is the most viewed item on their web site, getting some 65,000 hits per day. National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said in the article, “A normal person wouldn’t say my right to information is more important than someone’s fear and safety.”  He said it is a hateful and shamefully irresponsible. Only 19 states offer this information to the public, 21 deem it strictly confidential. This response will examine whether or not the opposition have a case for invasion of privacy.

            At the beginning of every invasion of privacy tort a lawyer must examine if the action or information violates one of the four distinct privacy torts explained in the Communications Law text: 1) Commercial appropriation of name or likeness 2) Public Disclosure of Embarrassing Private Facts, 3) Placing an individual in false light or 4) Intrusion upon physical seclusion. (167)

            This case would try to convince a judge of tort two, disclosure of private facts. The reality is that this database offers only truthful information, therefore there is no libel or defamation committed. The lawyers must decide if this information meets the standards for invasion of privacy.

            On the side of the newspaper they had an excess of applicable defenses. Tennessee has made these records public; therefore the newspaper is entitled to the pubic record privilege. As described in the Cox Broadcasting Corp. v Cohn case of 1975, “Even the prevailing law of invasion of privacy generally recognizes that the interests in privacy fade when the information involved already appears in public documents,” (180). Essentially, this case made reaffirmed the ability of news organizations to release already published documents. They are only making easier what is already published. Under the Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, and the open records laws all information except for key exceptions, is available to anyone who pursues it, “All state legislatures and the Congress have concluded that government records should be generally be open for public inspection,” (228). Meaning this information is fair game.

            Also the newspaper may use a newsworthiness defense – that the public has a right to know this information whether or not it can be deemed personal, (181). Some states have clear guidelines to determine the newsworthiness of information, like California. Under California’s laws, news organizations must weigh the balance of 1) the social value of the facts disclosed against 2) the depth of the intrusion into private affairs. (182). The law also prohibits the printing of mere curiosity pieces simply for the sake of publishing something scandalous, not necessarily something newsworthy, (182). The defense would have to prove that a reasonable person would not find this information objectionable in breadth or depth and that there was legitimate reason for publication despite the curiosity factor.

            So let us turn to the other side of the coin, those individuals whose private address and names are all searchable in a database connecting them with a concealed weapon’s permit. Let us go through the check list of the text and see if this situation satisfies a public disclosure of private facts case.

  • Has publicity been given to heretofore private facts of another’s life? Yes
  • Would the publicity be highly offensive or embarrassing to a reasonable person? This is up to interpretation.
  • Is the disclosed information of no legitimate public interest? Yes and no. This database could be a great resource, but it could be easily used to victimize those within it, (186).

So where then is the line? The newspaper has every legal right to print this information. It is already public record information. But is the information too much? There is a reason 21 states have deemed this information confidential, but obviously Tennessee feels differently. It basically comes down to this, the information is true, it’s personal but it’s not embarrassing, and unless they are truly victimized because of this behavior they have no case. A newspaper deemed this information was of legitimate public interest and newsworthy, therefore legally the newspaper would win a lawsuit.

Unfortunately for the people on the database, there simply is no law evidence to support their claim. The newspaper only made the information easier to obtain, they didn’t publish it for the first time. A better idea to keep information private is to go straight to Tennessee lawmakers and ask for a new law to keep concealed weapons permits records confidential to protect the safety and identity of those involved. But for now, they must simply grin and bear it.

However, if something was to happen to a member of the database, a victimizing through hazing, burglary or some other offense, a plaintiff then may have a case of negligence on the part of the newspaper. If they could adequately connect the dots that a newspaper owed them a legal duty of care, that the duty was breached and the breach was the cause of injury, a victim may then be able to win a case against the newspaper and have the database removed, (94).

Until then, people must simply hope that professional ethics will prevent private information from entering the World Wide Web, because the law cannot defend them.

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Only a few weeks ago one of the long held beliefs about libel suits – that truth always succeeded as a defense, has been sharply redefined in the recent Noonan vs. Staples case called “The most dangerous libel case in decades.” The plaintiff won the appeal because the court ruled the email in question was written with “actual malice.” The case is this, Noonan, a manager for office supply giant Staples was falsifying expense reports for travel expenditures. Once found out he was fired. Staples then emailed a memo to 1500 employees (many of whom do not travel for the company), explaining why Noonan was fired and what their policies were regarding travel expenditures. Noonan then sued for libel, lost in summary judgment, appealed and won. The case will continue to be appealed until a clear winner is decided upon and it very well may go to the Supreme Court to be decided.

The reason everyone is so upset by this ruling is that newspapers, publishers and editors always have acted on the belief that truth is the ultimate defense for a libel case. This note said nothing false, and in my view it wasn’t even mean spirited. Yes, perhaps they shouldn’t have printed his name, but to me it seems like the judge should have thrown out the case.

My Communication Law book explains that libel law walks a fine line between “reputation rights and First Amendment principles of free expression.” (113) But the authors go on to explain that the libel tort has six elements that must be satisfied for a win. They are: 1) Defamatory content, 2) Falsity, 3) Publication, 4) Identification 5) Fault and 6) Harm.

In this case it is clear that the content of breaking the law is defamatory content, it was published in the form of an email, the plaintiff was identified, and Staples was at fault. The two that are most important however are not apparent. It is not false and I want to know what proof of harm this person can give. If he is already breaking the law, surely a memo cannot damage that reputation? But alas, the most important is that of the falsity.

The article explains that the plaintiff used a 1902 Massachusetts ruling as a precedent. It states actual malice on a private citizen could be used to win a libel case. Opposition looked back to the important New York vs. Sullivan case in rebuttal. This case stated as long as it was with public concern, truth with “actual malice” was no case. But because Noonan is a private citizen, he may have grounds to win.

Needless to say the media world is frenzied over this decision. If this case continues to win a cornerstone in media law will fall crumbling down. Documentaries with a negative tone, investigative reporting on private citizens may all be at risk of a future actual malice ruling.

To me this ruling is gravely disappointing. The truth has always been the key element to journalism and if journalists and communicators cannot rely on truth being upheld in court we will be reduced, as the article said, from not saying anything unless we say something nice.

While I frown upon Staples for their unprofessionalism in naming a person in a formal memo with no other reason than to perhaps shame him, I do not see a libel case here. I see a disappointing use of resources, I see bad planning by Staples managers, a failure at human resource guidelines and a clear invasion of privacy tort.

According to privacy laws in the United States (as restated on Wikipedia) the invasion of privacy tort includes: 1. Intrusion of solitude 2. Public discourse of private facts 3. False light and 4. Appropriation. This case would be a likely candidate for the public discourse of private facts. The two conditions to win this case are these: 1.Would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, and 2. Is not of legitimate concern to the public.

How someone is terminated would indeed be both offensive and is not a legitimate concern of the public. This is how this case should be tried. In fact, in the Wikipedia article speaks to the very difference of libel and invasion of privacy.

“‘Unlike libel or slander, truth is not a defense for invasion of privacy.’ Disclosure of private facts includes publishing or widespread dissemination of little-known, private facts that are non-newsworthy, not part of public records, public proceedings, not of public interest, and would be offensive to a reasonable person if made public.” Wikipedia, Privacy Laws of the United States

As indicated by this quote, this case is a perfect case for invasion of privacy laws, but not one of libel. Libel is a sacred part of the journalism profession and reporters, managers and publishers alike need to know they can keep on seeking the truth and reporting it, or they are nothing more than kids with rose colored glasses. Reporters must be able to see and report the world as it is, even if that means saying the negatives. No, this man’s name should not have been given out in a memo about his termination, but this case in no way should change a 75 year tradition of free expression by telling the truth.

 

 

 

 

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In a recent article by the Washington Post, reporter Gautam Naik explained how a controversial clinic in LA will soon offer “trait selection” in addition to disease screening in a process called pre implantation genetic diagnosis or PGD.

It works like this: the fertility specialists take an assortment of three day old embryos and screens those selected for select characteristics — originally for things like mental retardation, blindness and diseases. But the opportunity for so-called cosmetic screening is almost too simple. You are already screening for diseases, why not see how tall they might be, how smart they might be, what sex, what color hair? It’s still you — just the best parts of you. (If this sounds familiar it’s because you’ve seen GATTACA, a 90’s science fiction movie involving the same scenario.)

Essentially PGD is the gateway to designing children. Obviously uproar has ensued. What may have started with good intentions may soon give parents the ability to choose to bestow their children with special characteristics.

Now let me say first of all that I am in complete disagreement with this technology. It seems like we are playing God and I’ve always felt that we were not given the ability to pick and choose for a reason. The consequences are so obvious. Gender balance will be skewed, discrimination will likely follow and we will have nothing else left to chance.

Can you imagine a 1st grade class room 50 years from now if this practice becomes customary– a room filled with tall, blond haired, smart, blue-eyed athletes. What of those other, “normally” reproduced children? Will we have remedial classes left for them in hopes of catching up? Or by then will they all be automatically aborted to avoid a life full of disappointment? They would grow up knowing they could never compete with those who have been designed for greatness.

It’s a sad reality, but as I grow into an age that I will soon be carrying children, the selfish side of me wonders what I would choose if I could choose anything. I would want a girl and a boy. I would want them to be perfectly healthy. I would want them to look like my boyfriend, my future husband, but I would want them to think like me. Even saying that out loud I feel guilty and sick.

How could I not simply be happy with a healthy child? But that’s why this was started, wasn’t it? To simply know for certain your child would be healthy. Why not know they will be beautiful? How many of us would wish that we had been designed for greatness? What pain would we have avoided? What teasing would have ceased? What could we have accomplished if we had had nothing holding us back?

But then, if my parents had had a lot of embryos made and screened I would never have been chosen, for I was born with a birth defect. Inside the petri dish they could not see past my imperfections, to what I might be even with my imperfections. My brother or sister embryo would be selected, implanted, created.

Me, a deformed little embryo, would have been kept from living a life not worth living. By that I mean a life not made perfect.  I would have been tossed into the waste to avoid the terrible existence which I call life. I would be collateral damage.

Yes, life can be terrible and hard. Sometimes we are friendless and alone but that is what makes us who we are. If we are designed into perfection think of all of those, all of us, who would never be. Those random two halves that may not have seemed perfect under a microscope, but they are perfect, perfect in the random chance, perfect because we didn’t get to choose. More beautiful because they are the way they are and not the way they could be.

I think God didn’t give us this decision for a reason. We are born with the ability to create human life, to reproduce, but we are not God and should not assume we have the authority to pick and choose who is fit to live, who is the most perfect. That would be a world not worth living in. It is imperfection that makes life interesting. I am imperfect, and I’m glad I had the chance to live.

And for me, my imperfect child, who ever they are, will be loved for every ounce of imperfection that they are. Like I was.

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As I hopped online and checked the headlines on MSN, as I always do, I was intrigued by the link to “baby faced boy is father”

As I clicked on the link I read a disturbing story. In Britain, a tabloid printed that a 13-year-old, baby-faced boy is the father of a newborn. One of the youngest reported. 

The mother is a 15-year-old girl. Reportedly, she was on birth control but missed a day. At the time on conception she was a girl of 14, he a boy of 12. I didn’t know you could get birth control this early.

According to the article England is known for a very high teen pregnancy, not as high as the U.S., but high. But this, to me this isn’t teen pregnancy, this is child pregnancy.

The article describes how the young, four-foot tall boy impregnated the much older looking girlfriend. They didn’t want to tell anyone the secret and abortion wasn’t an option. The boy seems to think he can be a good father, and is allowed to sleep at his girlfriends every night — even now.

The young boy’s father said he wants to have “the talk” with his young son too so there isn’t another baby.

Is this incredulous and disturbing and sick to anyone else? How is this allowed to happen? This isn’t a national crisis; this is a crisis in parenting. And if nothing else the school should be teaching children what it means to have sex, what it means to have a child.

The fact that this boy thinks he could be a father is hard to handle. He says doesn’t have much pocket money.

At 13, much less 12, I didn’t know what sex was. And reading the story, about how sad this boy was after having sex I wonder just how much of a choice it could be for this boy. I have a feeling his girlfriend may have known a lot more what she was doing.

I am more than anything, deeply saddened by this story and hope that parents will do their part to at least impart understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and sex with their young children. This shouldn’t be happening, and even if it’s just once, an anomaly, it’s once too much.

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The Flu Shot

It is the irony of ironies. Except that it’s not.

I got the flu — the aches, the headache, the congestion, the fatigue and the all night chills despite being covered in four blankets, a sweatshirt, pants and socks. I never expected it, but as I woke up on Saturday morning it wasn’t a hang over I felt, it was a knock-your socks-off-crawl-into-bed misery. 

I remember the scene two months ago vividly. It was me, telling my roommates I was not going to get a flu shot. I didn’t need in one.

I am a young, healthy person. Why should I put more into my body than I absolutely need? They tried to convince me that I would avoid getting sick, I heard but didn’t listen. I even wrote an article for my college newspaper last year about the importance of getting a flu shot, even if you are young and healthy. It wasn’t the $15 that kept me away, it was my own stubborn pride that I was better than this. I didn’t need help.

Well, the school that I missed and the aches that I’ve endured have suppressed that pride and convinced me that next year, I’ll be first in line.

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