New Evidence Suggests Ken Saro-Wiwa Was Framed

Originally posted at

Andy Rowell and Eveline Lubbers, 6 December 2010

An edited version of this article appeared in the Independent on Sunday

Fifteen years after the execution of Nigerian playwright and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, new compelling evidence has surfaced that suggests that the Nigerian military killed the four Ogoni elders that Saro-Wiwa was later accused of murdering.

The new evidence also reveals that the soldier’s commander, the notorious Lt Col Okuntimo, who was implicated in murder and rape, was being paid millions of Naira by Shell at the time and was being driven around in a Shell vehicle.

These new testimonies contradict what Shell has said for fifteen years. Since the time of Saro-Wiwa’s death, Shell consistently told the press and its share-holders that it had no financial relationship with the Nigerian military. Continue reading “New Evidence Suggests Ken Saro-Wiwa Was Framed”

NGOs and BBC targeted by Shell PR machine in wake of Saro-Wiwa death

Originally posted at

By Eveline Lubbers and Andy Rowell, published in the Guardian on 9 November 2010.

Secret internal company documents from the oil giant Shell show that in the immediate aftermath of the execution of the Nigerian activist and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa it adopted a PR strategy of cosying up to key BBC editors and singling out NGOs that it hoped to “sway”.

The documents offer a previously hidden insight into efforts by the company to deflect the PR storm that engulfed it after the Nigerian activist was hanged by the country’s military government. Shell faced accusations that it had colluded with the government over the activists’ deaths. Continue reading “NGOs and BBC targeted by Shell PR machine in wake of Saro-Wiwa death”

Dialogue at Shell: PR & intelligence

Originally posted at my blog , while working on the book.

Shell was one of the first companies to take a hit in the new-media war. The company was taken by surprise in 1995 when a Greenpeace campaign against sinking the redundant Brent Spar oil platform succeeded. Such a disaster would not be allowed to happen again. Shell International developed an online strategy, which included monitoring what was being said about the company in cyberspace.

For my book Battling Big Business I researched the on line detective agencies hired by Shell. Back then I also found out that the company’s impressive new website offered means of surveillance too. The forums were used to monitor Shell’s critics. For my present PhD research I was curious to know what had happened to the forums since. Continue reading “Dialogue at Shell: PR & intelligence”

Juggling with reputation and the Google-syndrome

Originally posted at my blog , while working on the book.

The Flemish toxicologist Aubin Heyndrickx was quoted in the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times as an expert on chemical warfare providing evidence for the Saddam trial. ‘Making a firm case against Saddam’ was written by Elisabeth Rosenthal and published on June 19, 2006.

In this SpinWatch article Eveline Lubbers explains why he is a charlatan: he was twice convicted for fraud and forgery, his scientific work was never peer reviewed, and his research paid for by people with political intentions. He also had strong links with Wouter Basson, Dr. Death of South Africa.
Furthermore, he worked with Evelyn le Chêne in Africa. Continue reading “Juggling with reputation and the Google-syndrome”

Dictionary of Republicanisms

Originally posted at my blog , while working on the book.

Sometime a good project deserves some praise & PR from the like-minded. I just got very inspired after reading Katrina vanden Heuvel’s
blog in the Nation

Before we can win the great battle of ideas, we must debunk the right’s political discourse, a veritable code of encrypted language that twists common usage to deceive the public for the Republicans’ purposes. The key to their linguistic strategy is to use words that sound moderate to us but mean something completely different to them.
We decided we needed to break the code by building a Republican dictionary. For six months, accepted suggestions from everyone who wanted to participate. Here are some of my favorites.

Continue reading “Dictionary of Republicanisms”

John Kenneth Galbraith rules!

Originally posted at my blog , while working on the book.

John Kenneth Galbraith has recently written an essay that has been published under the somewhat misleading title “The Economics of Innocent Fraud”.

Dealt with in this essay is how, out of the pecuniary and political pressures and fashions of the time, economics and larger economic and political systems cultivate their own version of truth. This has no necessary relation to reality. No one is especially at fault; what it is convenient to believe is greatly preferred. (Galbraith, 2005, p2)

All of who have some interest in economic and political life should be aware of this, he warns. Continue reading “John Kenneth Galbraith rules!”

Deconstructing Public Relations

Originally posted at my blog , while working on the book.

In his book Deconstructing Public Relations, Thomas Mickey  emphasizes the need for a critical look at what we assume to be accepted and unquestioned ways of functioning of PR in the society. He proposes cultural studies as an approach to critical theory for PR.

I have read this book to see if deconstruction as a method could be of any use for my research. Although I agree that critical theory on PR needs to be confrontational and eventually may help to raise social consciousness, I’m afraid that it is not enough to explore the practice of PR by deconstructing its public appearances only. Continue reading “Deconstructing Public Relations”

Shifts in governance

Originally posted at my blog , while working on the book.

My research has a fair amount of overlap with the Dutch Shifts in Governance NWO research programme, as it is also dealing with the control mechanisms between governments, NGO’s and private actors in national and international settings.

Last month I wrote them a letter and asked them to consider to support the last year of my research, running from September 2006 to September 2007. In order to profile myself and my work I proposed some research questions that were not included in the NWO outline. You can read them in this posting. 

Unfortunally, the NWO contact person insisted their pot of gold was empty; if I’d have a Dutch supervisor I could give it another try elsewhere. Continue reading “Shifts in governance”

The Voice of Business, Hill & Knowlton and Postwar Public Relations

Originally posted at my blog , while working on the book.

The Voice of Business makes good reading, it’s a well written history of the first and one of the most important PR consultancy firms in the United States. Originally a dissertation (in Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, if I understood the acknowledments correctly) it is a well of sources and insights, leaning on scrutinous research. The book could be read as a biography of John W. Hill, the founder of the company, as well, the influence of his thinking, his ideology – and what happened when his successors decided to make, or were forced to make strategic choices away from the company’s ideology.

Much has already been written about Hill & Knowlton’s involvement in the tobacco controversies in the fifties, their work for Philip Morris and their involvement in the foundation of the Council for Tobacco Research. See for instance Source Watch.

However, I collected some inspirational details for you below. The other case study that I found very fascinating was H&K involvement in the steel strikes in the Depression years in the United States. Right from the start, H&K was involved in antiunionism, strike breaking, and associated with front organisations and armed private police. Continue reading “The Voice of Business, Hill & Knowlton and Postwar Public Relations”

Campaign idea: Publish your PR

Originally posted at my blog , while working on the book.

Lingering in the back of my head is this campaign idea along the line of the Publish What you Pay initiative:

Publish your PR, (not the best name because of the restricted meaning or connotation of the term PR, but anyway.) Maybe better call it  ‘Open your agenda’ or ‘File your agenda’ or whatever.

The idea would be to set up a campaign that forces companies to publish who they hire, and what for – and vice versa force PR companies and consultancy firms to publish their client lists, including what they were hired for.

Meanwhile Publish what you Pay has started this extentive research, called ’Measuring transparency (of companies) in the Extractive Industry’. I’ve included the research outline in this posting.

I would like to investigate the possibilites of joining this campaign, this research, or hooking up with our own and propose an extention of the Publish What You Pay campaign, with any given coalition of groups, now or later. Continue reading “Campaign idea: Publish your PR”

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