The Week: What Caught Our Eye

January 22, 2022

Photo of Lake George

Darkness yields to pre-dawn splendor on Lake George where beauty is always in season.
Jeff Killeen

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

Let’s talk trust.

FOR 22 YEARS, the national PR firm Edelman has measured public trust in leading institutions around the world. This year’s results, based on the views of 36,000 people in 28 countries, are striking: Sixty-one percent of respondents now profess to have greater trust in business than in any other institution – government, NGOs, or the news media. While business outscores government on competency and on ethics, respondents chide business for not doing enough to address major social problems, including climate change (52%), economic inequality (49%), and trustworthy information (42%). CEOs usually are reticent because of the potential consequences, but 60% of their employees say they want their CEO to speak out on controversial issues. And the public wants to hear from CEOs on public policy issues like jobs and the economy (76%), wage inequity (73%), technology and automation (74%) and global warming and climate change (68%).

The least trusted societal leaders? Government officials and journalists, presumably federal officials and the national media. They are widely seen as co-conspirators in the dissemination of fake news, which 75% of survey respondents increasingly see as a weapon being used to advance political interests other than their own.

MONEY TALK: As the founder and CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with $10 trillion under management, Larry Fink’s words carry a lot of weight, especially with the CEOs and boards of companies BlackRock invests in. He’s become something of a lightning rod by using his huge platform to push corporate leaders to think beyond the bottom line about their social responsibilities. For that he has been labeled as “woke” by some. He used his annual letter to the companies BlackRock has invested in to push back. “Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics,” he wrote. “It is not ‘woke.’ It is capitalism. … We focus on sustainability not because we’re environmentalists, but because we are capitalists and fiduciaries to our clients,” and reminding them that “access to capital is not a right.”

CHANGING MINDS: Last May, Exxon shareholders rejected management’s recommendation and replaced three incumbent directors with candidates supported by a hedge fund that had criticized Exxon for acting too slowly to embrace clean energy. This week, the company that was once the world’s largest energy producer announced it had set a goal of zero emissions from its operations by 2050.

HOW THE MIGHTY … Name the top-10 carmaker that has greater market capitalization than the next ten combined? It’s Tesla. Elon Musk has turned his utter fearlessness into an epic force for innovation. Economist Colin Read writes, “It is not just his willingness to fail that allows him to innovate at a pace roughly ten times his competitors. It is also his ability to constantly rejig designs. His spacecraft and automobiles are modified constantly … Musk also believes in vertical integration. While other manufacturers were forced to shut down manufacturing for want of a small computer chip for something perhaps as insignificant as a windshield wiper motor, Musk designs his own chips …” 

TALL TALE: Readers of The New Yorker inevitably find something surprising and delightful in each issue (or, these days, online), often vivid prose that takes you to another time and place while teaching you something you wish you had known before. This time it’s the story of Tree 103, a pine that was part of a grove in the Adirondacks that’s been around since the 1670s. Tree 103 reached over 165 feet and likely was the tallest tree in New York state when it fell in December. “Do not despair,” Susan Orlean writes, “Tree 103 is no longer thrusting into the sky, but it lives on as forest debris, making fungi and bugs happy.”

Photo of moon and mountains.

The moon is the sentinel, ever on guard over Wilmington, North Elba, Keene. Nancy Battaglia
_____

AS 2022 BEGINS, what is the most important message you want to send coworkers, colleagues and customers? What are their paramount interests and concerns – and how do they fit into your strategy? The Behan Communications team of strategic advisers brings more than 30 years of experience – and the latest research -- to helping great leaders shape their most important communications to their employees, customers, and partners. How can we help you?
_____

THE COVID GAMES: Perhaps the oddest games in Olympic history are set to open in 13 days in Beijing, under the heavy burden of a pandemic and escalating tensions with North Korea and Russia. To reduce the spread of COVID, Beijing first barred foreign spectators. It now has barred its own people. Instead, the Games will be witnessed only by invited guests. NBC is not sending event announcers; they will “cover” the Olympics from Connecticut. And that their absence is likely to be noticed, except by the Chinese, but the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia have joined together in a “diplomatic boycott” to protest China’s human rights abuses. If you watch, keep an eye out for three Olympians with Adirondack ties.

SUMMER, WE SING OF THEE: Tanglewood in the Berkshires is planning a full summer of in-person performance for the first time since 2019. We love their confidence. The Boston Symphony is preparing for a 10-week season of classical concerts. James Taylor is returning for two performances. Plus, there’s a 90th birthday salute to John Williams, and a tribute to Stephen Sondheim.

COMBINE AND CONQUER: The board of Chicago public radio station WBEM voted this week to acquire the storied Chicago Sun-Times, once the home of journalistic legends like Ann Landers, Dear Abby, Roger Ebert and Mike Royko, among others, WBEM and the Sun-Times will create one nonprofit multimedia newsroom, sharing content and resources under the Chicago Public Media banner. The deal is a lifeline for the Sun-Times, which was rescued from bankruptcy in 2009 and, eight years later, was sold along with other underperforming assets for $1. Not for a single edition — for the entire enterprise.

GET THE LEAD OUT: Researchers using a population model and necropsy records over nearly three decades are estimating that ingestion of lead-based ammunition left in the carcasses of hunted animals resulted in a 4% to 6% drop in population growth among bald eagles in the Northeast. They say the findings should push hunters toward safer ammunition options, such as copper-based bullets. “Although current levels of lead contamination in the Northeast United States have not caused a region-wide decline of eagles, these conditions have stressed the resilience of this population,” the authors wrote in their study, published in the Journal of Wildlife Management.

OM5G: Let’s see if we have this right: Telecommunications giants AT&T and Verizon spent several years and billions of dollars acquiring access rights for their 5G cellular technology, which provides much faster internet access. Aviation regulators and airlines have long fretted that the new technology would interfere with a plane’s ability to land safely in low visibility. So why is it that, two days before the technology was scheduled to roll out, executives of the major airlines sent a letter to the Biden administration warning that the safeguards put in place were insufficient? “It doesn’t just disrupt air travel. It makes us look ridiculous to the rest of the world,” Harold Feld, a senior vice president at Public Knowledge, a research and advocacy group that has received funding from AT&T and Verizon, told The New York Times. Hard to argue.

RUN FOR IT: Keira D’Amato was a competitive runner in college. She gave up the sport for eight years and picked it up again to help her drop weight after the birth of her second child. She set a goal to run a marathon, which she achieved in 2017. Three years later, she was 15th at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials. Last weekend, the 37-year-old shattered the American record in the women’s marathon — 2 hours, 19 minutes, 12 seconds, 24 seconds faster than the previous record, set in 2006.

DON’T BE THAT GUY: A New York man is suing his 82-year-old mother to hand over baseball cards she bought for him in the 1980s. She told the New York Post she was “baffled” by the suit, that she keeps the cards in acrylic holders locked in a safe, and that she still enjoys looking at them from time to time. The suit, filed by Christopher Trencher in Manhattan Supreme Court, alleges the collection, which includes 1953 cards for Hall-of-Famers Satchel Paige and Ralph Kiner, is worth more than $25,000.

BE THIS GUY: Snow was in the forecast, so Brian DeLallo, the head football coach at Bethel Park High School in Western Pennsylvania, put out a message to his players: Their weightlifting session the next day was canceled. Instead, they were to find an elderly or disabled neighbor and shovel their driveway, with instructions not to accept any money.

OUT OF THIS WORLD: Auction house Sotheby’s Dubai is gearing up for the sale of a 555.55-carat black diamond that is believed, based on its composition, to have originated in outer space. The auction is scheduled for February in London. It’s expected that the rare gem will fetch at least $6.8 million.

HONORING A PIONEER: Willie O’Ree, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame who in 1958 became the first Black man to play in the NHL, had his jersey number 22 retired by the Boston Bruins and raised to the rafters at TD Bank Arena. He was playing in a junior league game when a puck blinded him in his right eye, and doctors told him he’d never play hockey again. He followed his brief NHL playing career with more than two decades as the league’s diversity ambassador.

MYSTERY SOLVED? MAYBE: A cold case team looking into the betrayal of Anne Frank and others who were in hiding for more than two years in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam has implicated a prominent Jewish notary who, according to a new book, told German soldiers about the hiding place to save his own family from concentration camps. The cold case team acknowledges that their evidence is circumstantial and that “we don’t have 100% certainty.” The director of the Anne Frank House museum, which welcomed the new research, called it “an interesting theory,” but “I don’t think we can say that a mystery has been solved now.”

BETTY WHITE: Admit it, those two words together just make you smile, even if her journey to 100 ended just a few days short. She was passionate about animals, and immediately after her death, fans started the #BettyWhiteChallenge on social media, urging fans to donate $5 to any animal welfare organization before her 100th birthday. The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, based near Albany, said it received more than $50,000 from 1,500-plus donors. Wow.

A FRIGHTFUL BLAST: Last week’s underwater eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano in the Pacific Ocean covered the island nation of Tonga in ash and sent literal shock waves halfway around the world. The satellite imagery was stunning, and the science behind the violence fascinating. The volcano, it appears, powerfully erupts about once every 1,000 years; the question now is, will there be smaller eruptions to follow?

A QUICK HIT: TV reporters doing live shots come to expect the unexpected – even getting bumped when bigger news breaks.  West Virginia TV reporter Tori Yorgey was covering a weather-related water main break this week when it all happened at once.

SPOTIFY ON THE SPOT: A group of 270 doctors and science educators signed an open letter to Spotify, urging the digital music, podcast and video service to rein in COVID-19 misinformation disseminated by its most prominent podcast host, Joe Rogan. They were particularly alarmed by an interview Rogan conducted with Dr. Robert Malone, a virologist who was banned from Twitter for promoting COVID-19 misinformation and who undermines the efficacy of the vaccine. The interview has been shared tens of thousands of times on social media. “People who don’t have the scientific or medical background to recognize the things he’s saying are not true and are unable to distinguish fact from fiction are going to believe what (Malone is) saying, and this is the biggest podcast in the world. And that’s terrifying,” said Dr. Ben Rein, a neuroscientist at Stanford University who co-authored the letter. 

RED ALERT: Blood donations have decreased since the start of the pandemic to the point that the American Red Cross is now declaring the shortage a crisis, citing particular challenges in rural parts of the country. Some hospitals say they’ve begun to ration blood products.

LOVING THE ADIRONDACKS: Travel and Leisure magazine, with 4.8 million readers, pens a love letter to Lake Placid. “Where else can you wake up in five-star accommodations, walk out your door to skate a lap around the lake, ski on an Olympic-caliber mountain, careen down an ice track in a bobsled at 70 mph, ride in a dog sled, and still make it back to your hotel for a world-class dinner, followed by drinks around a roaring fire?" And while we’re toasting: Whiteface and Gore make one writer’s list of the eight best ski resorts on the East Coast.

LIVES

MARVIN LEE ADAY was a Dallas native and a high school football player who came to New York City in the late 1960s and began landing roles on stage. He appeared in the Broadway musical “Hair” and inThe Rocky Horror Show.” But things really got cooking when he began to play “Bat out of Hell,” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” Meatloaf was 74.

WENDY HALL dedicated her life to rescuing and rehabilitating injured animals in the Adirondacks, founding the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and operating it with her husband, Stephen Hall. More than a wildlife rehabilitator, she taught the craft to others and spoke often about the importance of wildlife and their roles in nature. Her death at 70 of an inoperable sarcoma has led to an outpouring of fond remembrances.

PETER M. PRYOR escaped the Jim Crow South by enlisting in the Army as a 14-year-old during World War II. After his discharge, he wound up in Albany, N.Y., later graduating from Siena College and Albany Law School, where he was the first Black graduate since Reconstruction. He remained in Albany, taking on anti-discrimination cases and fighting police brutality and other systemic injustices. His dignified manner belied a fierceness born of life experience. He died at 95 on Martin Luther King Day.

LUSIA HARRIS was a dominating figure in the early days of intercollegiate women’s basketball, leading her Delta State team to three national championships and becoming the first and only woman drafted by an NBA team — the Utah Jazz, in 1977. Fifteen years later, she was the first Black woman inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. A three-time collegiate All-American, she also scored the first basket in women’s Olympic competition, in 1976. No cause of death was given. She was 66.

ANDRÉ LEON TALLEY was a pioneering fashion journalist whose career spanned five decades. He was the former creative director at Vogue and a judge on the reality TV show America’s Next Top Model who is credited with inspiring generations of people to work in the fashion industry. Belgian designer Diane von Furstenberg told the BBC no one was “grander and more soulful,” adding: “The world will be less joyful.” He died at 73 from complications of COVID-19.

STEVEN EARL EDWARDS was a familiar face to just about anyone who regularly attended Park Playhouse, the summer theater program at Albany’s Washington Park. He appeared in more mainstage Park Playhouse performances than any other actor, starring in seven Park Playhouse productions (three as King Arthur) and directing three more. He had been in declining health and died at 75.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
—    Winston Churchill

THE SIGNOFF

RYAN FITZPATRICK has started games for nine different teams in his career as an NFL quarterback, most recently the Washington Football Team. He also has made it clear that Buffalo was his favorite, and he proved it by attending the Bills’ playoff game last weekend and freezing alongside the other 65,000 fans, many of whom posed for photos with him, including one shirtless.

Thank You to our Contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Troy Burns, Mike Cybulski, Clare P. Tuttle, Jeff Killeen, Nancie Battaglia, Kelly Donahue, Katie Alessi, John Brodt, Tara Hutchins, and Lisa Fenwick.

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.  www.behancommunications.com

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback.  

Let’s make it a conversationmark.behan@behancom.com

Recent Posts

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 26, 2022

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 19, 2022

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 12, 2022

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 18, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 11, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 19, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 13, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 25, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 18, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 11, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 4, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 27, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 20, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 13, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 19, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 12, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 21, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

November 14, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

October 17, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

October 10, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 26, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 19, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 12, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 5, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 29, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 22, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 15, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 28, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 21, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 14, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 30, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 23, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 16, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 28, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 21, 2019

The Week: What caught our eye

September 14, 2019

The Week: What caught our eye

September 7, 2019

Old West Adirondacks

July 19, 2019

A Glens Falls Night

November 20, 2018

A moment for our home city

October 9, 2018