Fox News and Monsanto~ Internal Relations


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This presentation was made for a Public Relations class taken at the University of Ottawa.

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  • **Focus on internal relations Fox News Kills Monsanto News story 2:56-4:00
  • Station: Fox WTVT in Tampa Fox caved into the pressure from Monsanto In 1997, Monsanto attorneys threatened to sue the station if it aired a series about Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone without making certain changes Make sure to state Internal Relations topic Monsanto is the only one who knows how many farmers are using the growth hormone. Monsanto does not present sale figures but claims it is the largest manufacturer. Secretive operations that made it compelling to study People are being misled or lied to about how much your milk comes from cows with injected with growth hormone- leading consumers to believe that their milk doesn’t contain the hormone Fax came from Monsanto attorney- Fax was threatening
  • News station manager concerned with station image Station decided to delay broadcast- Old Station Manager screened reports and found nothing wrong. found no major problems with its accuracy and fairness, and set a new air date. Fox received a second letter from Monsanto's attorney, claiming that "some of the points" we were asking about "clearly contain the elements of defamatory statements which, if repeated in a broadcast, could lead to serious damage to Monsanto and dire consequences for Fox News.” it was clearly on life support as Fox's own attorneys and top-level managers, fearful of a legal challenge or losing advertiser support, looked for some way to discreetly pull the plug.
  • Fox aired an rBHG story filled with many of the lies the reporters refused to broadcast as damage control; reported by a young and inexperienced reporter
  • Last story of their 19 year broadcast journalism careers and nearly destroyed their lives and family- they took a big risk Refer to text terms*
  • Change in management New manager didn’t make ethical decision Corporate goals came before ethics and public interest Caved in to external pressures
  • Fox News and Monsanto~ Internal Relations

    1. 1. Fox News & Monsanto Internal Relations
    2. 2. Agenda: Internal Relations <ul><li>Main Challenge </li></ul><ul><li>Steps </li></ul><ul><li>Pros & Cons </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Alternative Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Pros & Cons </li></ul>
    3. 3. Main Challenge <ul><li>Monsanto: Posilac©/ rBHG Growth Hormone </li></ul><ul><li>Claims it is the world leader in providing farmers with genetically modified organisms </li></ul><ul><li>Multi-million dollar PR offensive aimed at preventing the news media from reporting the views of Posilac© critics </li></ul>
    4. 4. Main Challenge Cont’d… <ul><li>rBGH increases milk production </li></ul><ul><li>FDA approval required </li></ul><ul><li>Longest test they had performed on the hormone for human toxicity was 90 days on 30 rats </li></ul><ul><li>Canadian Government refused to release the product </li></ul>
    5. 5. Main Challenge Cont’d… <ul><li>Monsanto hired a multimillion dollar PR firm </li></ul><ul><li>In 1997, Monsanto attorneys threatened to sue the station </li></ul><ul><li>WTVT felt threatened and pressured by Monsanto </li></ul><ul><li>Fired Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, violating the Florida state “whistle blower” law & its license with the Federal Communications Commission </li></ul>
    6. 6. Steps Fox News took to handle the issue… <ul><li>Monsanto’s attorney sends first warning </li></ul><ul><li>Broadcast Cancelled </li></ul><ul><li>Broadcast’s postponed for a year: 83 versions of rBGH story </li></ul>
    7. 7. Steps Cont’d… <ul><li>Reporters filed a Whistleblower lawsuit </li></ul><ul><li>Fox News hired inexperienced reporter </li></ul><ul><li>New story was aired with many lies </li></ul>
    8. 8. Pros & Cons of Fox News’s Strategy
    9. 9. Analysis <ul><li>Criteria for successful Internal Relations </li></ul><ul><li>1. Confidence and Trust between employers/employees </li></ul><ul><li>2.Honest, Candid information flowing freely up-down-sideways in organization </li></ul><ul><li>3. Satisfying status and participation for each person </li></ul>
    10. 10. Analysis Cont’d… <ul><li>Criteria for Successful Internal Relations </li></ul><ul><li>4. Continuity of work without strife </li></ul><ul><li>5. Healthy or safe surroundings </li></ul><ul><li>6. Success for the starship enterprise </li></ul><ul><li>7. Optimism about the future (employees) </li></ul>
    11. 11. Alternative Strategies <ul><li>Goal: meet the seven criteria of successful internal relations. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Create and sustain mutually beneficial relationships that reflect a positive & open work environment. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Be proactive: develop a crisis communication plan for situations such as this. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Alternative Strategy #1 Manager with appropriate background <ul><li>This alternative does not wholly satisfy any of the seven criteria of good internal relations as compliance with each criterion is tentative. </li></ul>
    13. 13. Alternative Strategy #2 Story goes to another network <ul><li>This alternative satisfies two out of the seven criteria: (1) honest, candid information flowing within the organization, (2) satisfying status and participation for each person . </li></ul>
    14. 14. Alternative Strategy #3 Fox airs the story <ul><li>This alternative satisfies each the seven criteria of good internal relations: (1) Confidence and trust between employees/employers, (2) honest, candid information flowing within the organization, (3) satisfying status and participation for each person, (4) continuity of work without strife, (5) healthy and safe surroundings, (6) success for enterprise, (7) optimism for future. </li></ul>
    15. 15. Takeaways: <ul><li>Internal relations standards for news stations such as Fox News reflect credibility </li></ul><ul><li>Organizations should collaborate with both external and internal stakeholders to create a mutually beneficial crisis communication plan </li></ul><ul><li>The full story, per Akre and Wilson has yet to be aired </li></ul>
    16. 16. Questions? <ul><li>How do you think Fox News could have handled the situation more effectively? </li></ul>