the listening post
Mopping up BP's polluted image
The oil company has spent millions trying to manage public perceptions, but to what end?
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2010 16:36 GMT


This week, The Listening Post focuses on the scramble by the White House and BP to contain the negative press spilling across the media about the Gulf of Mexico disaster. Also, we bring back excerpts from our interview with actor, rapper and avid new media user, Riz MC.

It was a news story that hit the headlines the day it broke over two months ago and the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico remains at the top of news agendas around the world even today. For BP - the oil company at the centre of the storm - the Gulf of Mexico crisis has cost it billions of dollars - money spent not just on the clean-up but also on an extensive media management campaign.

In a bid to fend off the aggressive and very public push by the Obama White House to deflect all blame, BP spent millions in TV ads and contracts to high-powered PR management firms. But with the company's CEO Tony Hayward's chronic inability to say the right thing in front of the cameras and Obama's determined attack on the company for its negligence, the media debacle is far from over for BP.

Meanwhile, the US administration also has its hands full protecting the president from the negative coverage of the struggling clean up effort. But with BP bearing the brunt of public ire, the White House seems to be winning its hard fought battle for public perception. Our News Divide this week takes a look at the effort by BP and the White House to mop up the negative coverage that is polluting their images.

Updates on the media world with Newsbytes: Gaza-based, Hamas-backed Al Aqsa TV is kicked off the airwaves in Europe; media mogul Rupert Murdoch makes an $11.5bn bid for the 61 per cent share of BSkyB that he does not already own; three more journalists are gunned down in the Philippines; and the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative - IMMI - is unanimously passed by the parliament in Iceland, paving the way for could be the world's first media haven.

Our feature this week has aired on our broadcast before, but with British-born rapper Riz MC's new music video going viral and his recent film stirring up controversy, we have decided to revisit our interview with him. From his first music video Post 9/11 Blues to his latest Hundreds and Thousands, Riz MC's work is political, witty and makes use of new media to get his message out.

In our chat with him we talk about how the mainstream media's perception of any particular religion can effect our own. The Listening Post's Salah Khadr has updated the feature he did last year with some of Ahmed's recent work but has kept the fundamental message: If you do not like what you see in the mainstream then you can always get your message out online.

And finally, if you have been following the World Cup then you are undoubtedly aware of the vuvuzelas that have been creating that monotone drone throughout all of the matches. Players, coaches, spectators, viewers, commentators are all locked into a mighty battle to hear themselves think, let alone enjoy the game. But is their struggle equal to the battle for Middle Earth? Do not worry if you do not know what we are talking about, our internet video of the week will explain.

This episode of The Listening Post aired from Friday, June 25, 2010.

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