In Undefined Media, a Note on Vanguard’s Approach
- by: Blake Davis
- in Vanguard News
Richard Edelman, CEO and president of the world’s largest private PR firm, Edelman, issued a letter in mid-November (2016) that resonated with Vanguard staff.
Referencing a Buzzfeed story, he noted that false election articles posted on Facebook vastly outperformed real news articles by prominent news organizations (such as The New York Times and The Washington Post) in the final months before the presidential elections, getting much more widely read and distributed by readers.
He wrote: “The false stories ranged from the ridiculous to the scandalous, including an endorsement of President-elect Donald Trump by Pope Francis. One site alone had four stories that were shared 3 million times on Facebook, including one about Hillary Clinton selling arms to ISIS.”
I came across this letter preparing for a story in this edition about Edelman’s senior attorneys, Shan Bhati and Peter Petros. The letter resonated not because of concerns about false news, or being perceived this way, but because Vanguard is a young magazine just in its fourth quarterly edition.
Even though Vanguard has the backing of an established company, TrueLine Publishing, it’s entering the publishing world during uncertain times. Newspapers are experimenting; digital publications are popping up and disappearing like restaurants; readers are uncertain where to turn.
When they do turn to Vanguard, they will find an approach that’s not typical of trade magazines, law reviews or newspapers, but rather a combination of these approaches.
The story on Bhati and Petros overviews the baptism-by-fire building of Edelman’s legal department by the attorneys and their path to earning a place at the business roundtable. “When we started, it was sink or swim and we swam like hell,” Bhati said in that story.
In another story on John Scheib, vice president of the legal division at Norfolk Southern—the eastern Virginia-headquartered railway that, on over 21,000 miles of track, operates in 22 states and the District of Columbia—Scheib jokes, “I couldn’t even spell railroad when I got out of law school.”
Today, his experiences have grown to include serving as counsel to the railroad subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives and being chief of staff and counsel to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, which has broad economic oversight over the railroads.
In stories such as these, amidst media change that’s pulling the rug of reality from beneath us, Vanguard provides an anchor of truth: clearly written stories that are double-checked with all sources for accuracy.
View these stories and more in our latest edition, Winter II 2017.