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Yes Men Hoax Chevron

Posted on : 05-11-2010 | By : admin | In : PR Blog

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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” –First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

As a journalist, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows me to execute my line of work freely. That freedom is a great privilege that should not be abused nor taken out of context.

The front page of the Yes Men website states, “Impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Our targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else.” The Yes Men portray themselves an organization that seeks to hype up awareness on issues regarding companies that they feel are problematic.

Yes Men develop and carry out fake advertising campaigns to place a particular company in the limelight so that the public can see their errors. Although their motives are valid, the Yes Men’s modes of execution to solve these issues are all wrong.

The first section of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics (SPJ) states, “Seek truth and report it.” As a public relations professional and well-rounded journalist, we have to make it a point to hold truth and honesty in the highest regard. The SPJ Code of Ethics mandates journalists to “be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.”

It is true that the Yes Men’s message is factual and that they have the consumer’s best interest in mind. However, the credibility of their actions hits at an all-time low. Posing as other companies and tricking consumers into believing they are representatives from a certain organization is highly unethical. The First Ammendment technically allows the Yes Men and anyone to do this since it is their opinion. However, they do not comply with the core values of the profession.

Recently, global energy corporation Chevron was attacked by the Yes Men. Yes Men wanted to raise awareness about Chevron’s environmental damage due to their 16 billion gallons oil spill. They took Chevron’s actual “We Agree” advertising campaign, altered it to fit their motives and tricked consumers into believing that they honestly represented Chevron. This is where they move into the unethical waters of activism.

Online news network, Dprogram.net, comments that, “perhaps the best thing about the Yes Men is how they force the corporations to respond to the accusations before them.” They feel that Chevron is guilty of “environmental suffering” and they applaud Yes Men for showcasing Chevron as a guilty corporation.

It understood the Yes Men are just looking to just bring attention to companies that are involved in certain matters that negatively impact the world. However, the problem is that their barking stops there. Once they make their point through deception, the Yes Men do not offer any ways to positively alleviate the issue at hand. They are merely humiliating companies in front of the public eye.

Satires such as those on the Onion, are obviously meant to not be taken seriously. There is no way one could watch a clip of an Onion News Network news story and believe that it was real news. The Yes Men, however, makes their content look like that of their target organization at the time, so that consumers take them seriously. Satires on the Onion, Steven Colbert and ones just like them are obviously aiming for humor. The Yes Men aren’t meant be funny.

I think the Yes Men should have full disclosure and let the public know that their campaigns and content are for satirical purposes and only reflect the opinions of the author(s).

The Yes Men’s purpose and mission can still be effective without their deceptive ways. Their goal is to alert the public and raise awareness and there is nothing wrong with that. The Yes Men just need to reevaluate their modes of execution so that is ethical.

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