Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Maybe PR is Rocket Science, After All: At least, a 24-year-old press officer at NASA seems to think so. According to this New York Times piece on a new commitment to openness at the space agency, George Deutsch, who reportedly sent out a memo to scientists preparing a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang.

The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator…. This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA."

I know I have been an advocate for giving PR people a greater role in policy making, but even I draw the line somewhere. And a 24-year-old political appointee lecturing NASA scientists on what constitutes science is definitely over that line.

ADD: Nature magazine has an article that asks: "Has NASA's Press Office Gone Too Far?"

ADD: NASA administrator Mike Griffin makes it clear what he thinks about that question in a statement on scientific openness posted at the agency's website: "The job of the Office of Public Affairs, at every level in NASA, is to convey the work done at NASA to our stakeholders in an intelligible way. It is not the job of public affairs officers to alter, filter or adjust engineering or scientific material produced by NASA's technical staff."

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