Phil R. Dunn
I’m a professional marketer and journalist with an M.A. in print journalism from the University of Southern California, a B.A. in history from UC Berkeley, and 23 years of marketing, reporting and publishing experience. My companies, QualityWriter and Synapse Services Co., help businesses tell their stories via digital marketing and content development strategies. I’m also the author of McGraw-Hill’s best-selling eBay marketing book The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing.
I wrote Media Collusion and developed the companion course to teach my kids about the media and how it influences their lives. I have two sons, aged 15 and 13 at the time of this writing, and one daughter who’s now 10. It’s my hope that I can teach other college prep students the same course material so they too can better navigate this challenging media landscape and digital advertising world.
I’ll share my views up front, so you can make any assumptions you require and temper your understandings about the materials within by knowing the person behind the words. I don’t profess to be an expert on all the topics covered in this book and course, but I’ve worked with the experts, practiced much of what’s described professionally, and have a long, complex relationship with advertising and the media.
I grew up in Orange County, California, son of an U.S. Air Force spy pilot, software publishing entrepreneur and computer programmer father and a graphic designer and fine artist mother. I was home sick the day Ronald Reagan was shot and soaked up every minute of the news reporting. I really liked the guy and, as believer in the adage, “The chief business of the American people is business,” attributed to Calvin Coolidge the 30th U.S. President, fully appreciated his tax strategies, as well as JFK’s very similar pro-growth policies. My general sense is that if you give people enough prosperity, they’ll figure out the other issues within their communities, as free people. Too much legislation mucks up the gears of progress.
I’ve voted for Democrats, Libertarians and Republicans, and I’m currently registered as an Independent voter. I’ve been registered as a Democrat, Libertarian and a Republican in the past. My first presidential vote (while in college) was for Michael Dukakis, the Democrat candidate. He promised to allow college grads into a program that would offer mortgage down payments at 3% of the total. That was my first taste of the bitter campaign season medicine so common in U.S. politics – candidates make outlandish campaign-trail claims, only to walk them back later. Everybody does it. Only the young and naïve fall for it.
My media and advertising/marketing backgrounds are important. I understand who journalists are from inside, personal experience. My colleagues and fellow Masters candidates at USC’s School of Journalism were predominantly activists of liberal persuasion, and they felt it their duty to write and report in order to advance specific policies and cultural imperatives. That’s the reality for the “feet on the street.” I’m cynical in that sense, and I abandoned a full-time career in the news business in favor of marketing, which you’ll learn is just another form of the news (from the pages of this book). The other important players in the media game (advertisers, publishers and policy influencers) are more complicated animals. There are families, companies, politicians, non-profit organizations and government entities that all heavily influence the news. We’ll go deep into this system within these pages.
The Media Collusion book is written with the U.S. media and advertising industries as a backdrop, however the material should be applicable to all kinds of countries and cultures around the globe. U.S. politics, culture and popular media have traveled far and wide over the past century. The lessons should be recognizable and transferable to a wide audience of international readers.
One thing I’d like to avoid in these pages and in the course material is political divisiveness. We all have our views, and there’s certainly a vested interest by the powers that be in an “us vs. them” game. I’ll keep the examples in this text balanced, so we can all get a laugh out of the games that all parties play without getting bogged down in opinion, dogma or general indignation.
This book is not about politics. It’s about the media powers in play and how the game is played. Once you understand how it works, you may end up chucking the whole notion of “staying informed” and go pursue other endeavors. I’ve certainly put myself on a news diet. I spend my limited thoughts (by age!) and emotions on oil painting, gourmet cooking, enjoying my family, neighborhood and friends, and getting in the odd surf session or hockey game.