Brexit, French GIGN and Italian GIS. Are Professional Media Committed to Truth?

One of the more often heard claims against “independent” online information is that “professional” journalist are exactly so, professional, thus giving the reader some sort of “quality assurance” about the news they deliver.

The Internet, nonetheless, has proven this assumption wrong.

Among the multitude of poorly informed articles published by “official” press, one example of this lack of care in reporting a news is a recent article by Repubblica.it about the Bataclan aftermath.

The article reports a quarrel between a group of French GIGN operatives and its commander, accused of having be withheld from intervene during the Bataclan massacre by fault of “jurisdiction” concerns.

Anais Ginori, the Italian journalist that wrote the article, at a certain point writes:

What would have happened should the GIGN were taken into play? Maybe the Gendarmerie’s elite force intervention would have allowed an early neutralization of the terrorists, by way of the high training standard often inspired to the GIS, the Carabinieri special group1

What’s wrong with that?

The sentence “by way of the high training standard often inspired to the GIS, the Carabinieri special group ” is is historically inaccurate. The GIGN has been established by the French Government on 1974, as a consequence of the 1972 Black September’s Munich Olympic Games massacre, while the Italian GIS on 1978 (several years late than the GIGN, the German GSG9, and British SAS’ Special Project Team.)

Sure, one may say that this is only a minor flaw that doesn’t affect the general value of the article: at the end of the day all of this fuss is just about a matter of wrong dates, and nothing more.

But it ain’t so.

By indirectly (and wrongly) establishing some sort of “primacy” of the Italian GIS over the French GIGN, the journalist induces into the reader a false notion. And since a casual reader is not supposed to be learned into the technicalities of – as in this case – the special forces’ maze, the result is the spreading of mistakes and the building of false assumptions.

And Brexit already showed what happens when people take decisions based on false statements.

  1. Cosa sarebbe accaduto se il Gign fosse stato mobilitato? Forse l’intervento dell’unità di élite della gendarmeria avrebbe permesso di neutralizzare prima i terroristi, dato l’elevato standard di addestramento, spesso ispirato a quello del Gis, il nucleo speciale dei carabinieri.

Dieselgate Volkswagen’s Advertising Strategy: Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Brand Invain

Yesterday I’ve stumbled upon the first Volkswagen’s TV commercial of the after-Dieselgate scandal.

At first sight, there is nothing different from the previous campaign: a car, its technical specification, the unique selling proposition and, final, a company full-screen logo. But, as they say, the devil is in the details.

The commercial only mentioned the car model’s name without any reference to the word “Volkswagen” during the whole duration and, when the logo-moment came, neither the name of the car-maker nor the claim “Das Auto” went on screen.

Volkswagen’s strategy to limit the lose of its market share, thus, seems to be oblivion-inducing based. Let people forget about the cursed name for a long enough time, to come back when  Dieselgate would have been buried in the past and the brand name can shine again.

The Dieselgate Crisis Management: Played by the Book

The way Volkswagen is handling the Dieselgate is a very good example of proper crisis management and seems coming from a crisis management handbook (such as “Master of disaster“): once discovered, the company neither denied the facts nor tried to hide it, announced an independent review, fired the culprits, called-in a new, serious manager started cooperating with the authorities, saved the money for the inevitable fines and damages.

This way Volkswagen has been able to keep the public outcry under control because no collateral damages – such as deep burying evidences, threatening or bribing involved people, further doctoring information etc. – have been suffered, thus helping the company recover its image – and customer base – faster.

Take It Personal or The Way of the Craftsman

Don’t take it personal. This is the mantra we’re all taught when entering the professional business. By don’t taking things “personally” – cognoscenti say – we are more independent, target-oriented, able to better work in a team.

But in the meantime, by not “taking things personally”, assignments are something that ends daily at 5 p.m. no matter what,  companies are just a place to leave from as soon as a well paid (in power or money when and if a) job is found, work is not filled with passion, creativity and personal involvement. Greed and Laziness become your best buds and complaints become your only conversation topic.

On the contrary, if you “take it personal” the pivot of your world become the exploiting of your creativity, appreciation for a well done task and sharing your wisdom with your peers. As an accomplished craftsman or artist you put yourself in the things you do and things you do speak about you better than any fancy written CV.

Think of it, next time somebody hints you not to “take it personal”.

Parkinson’s Law Italian Edition Quoted By Gian Antonio Stella

Gian Antonio Stella, a well known  journalist whose articles are published by the most important Italian daily newspaper, Il Corriere della sera, just published a new book: Bolli, sempre bolli, fortissimamente bolli, about the bureaucracy cancer in Italy.

At the beginning of the book (Kindle location 1853, to  be precise) he extensively quotes  La Legge di Parkinson, the Italian translation I did of the British classic “Parkinson’s Law“.

A fundamental book to understand Damage Control

Damage Control and Crisis Management aren’t easy to understand and master without actual field experience. Nevertheless reading good books help the introduction to these fundamental tools for a legal adviser.
Master of Disasters is one of the books that should stay on everybody’s desk, read as a Bible.