ProfNet Experts Available on Nelson Mandela, Engineering, Astroturfing, More

Also in This Edition: Jobs for Writers and Media Industry Blog Posts

Dec 11, 2013, 13:30 ET from ProfNet

NEW YORK, Dec. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Below are experts from the ProfNet network that are available to discuss timely issues in your coverage area. If you are interested in interviewing any of the experts, please contact them via the contact information at the end of the listing. To receive these updates by email, send a note to with the industries you cover, and we'll add you to the appropriate edition. 

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  • Nelson Mandela: The Politician and Leader
  • Increased Crime on College Campus
  • Legacy/Estate Planning
  • Reading, Writing, Math…and Engineering
  • All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses a Lawsuit
  • Cracking Down on Fake Internet Reviews
  • Dolphins' Bullying Disaster Offers Lessons
  • Arbitration Appeal Option May Not Be Attractive
  • Oil Firm's Big Bribe Fine Could Have Been Worse


  • Reporter – Leader-Telegram (WI)
  • Part-Time Reporter – Cape Cod Times (MA)
  • Assistant News Director – ABC7 Los Angeles (CA)


  • Media 411: Airing 911 Calls
  • Grammar Hammer: Drawing a Line in the Sand
  • The Q&A Team: How to Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas


Nelson Mandela: The Politician and Leader
Jeremy Ball
History Professor
Dickinson College
"Mandela led by example. In his early life he campaigned and organized to end apartheid, after the opposition was banned in 1960 he spearheaded Umkhonto we Sizwe ('Spear of the Nation') to carry out a campaign of limited sabotage against the government. After he was arrested and sent to prison for life in 1963, he became a symbol of apartheid's injustice. After his release from prison in 1990, he negotiated with the apartheid government for three years to create a democratic constitution for South Africa that provides remarkable protection for human rights. Again, he set the example for tough negotiating and also forgiveness and grace towards those who had perpetuated apartheid. His example continues to inspire."
After being inspired by Nelson Mandela -- as were so many -- Ball decided to work in South Africa after graduating from Boston College in 1994. His knowledge of Mandela, the politician and leader, is based on his two years spent working in the South African parliament (1994-96), the first two years of Mandela's presidency under South Africa's democratic constitution. He specializes in courses on apartheid, African political and ecological history and human rights.
Media Contact: Jeremy Ball, or

Increased Crime on College Campus
Kevin W. DeVore
Minnesota Criminal Lawyer
DeVore Law Office
Increased crime throughout the University of Minnesota campus calls for increased security and reinforcement from local officials. Says DeVore: "Rare crime incidents recently alarm University of Minnesota students and faculty questioning their safety among campus. A request for increased security and more university officials along with the help of Minneapolis police and Hennepin's County Sheriff's Office is taking place on campus. Now 28 robberies have been recorded since August and the safety of the students is top priority."
DeVore offers experienced and aggressive criminal defense representation to people throughout Minnesota and the Midwest. With more than a decade of experience in the area of criminal defense he has a working knowledge and relationship with the law and the courts of the region. His defense practices focuses on criminal matters including burglary, shoplifting and theft. His "small firm" values are expressed in his commitment, while "big firm" expertise and resources help ensure the best possible results for a case.
Media Contact: Denae Olberding,

Legacy/Estate Planning
John Dorris
Co-Managing Partner
Dorris & Giordano PLC
"More than half of American adults will die without a will, leaving their inheritance and the guardianship of their children up to states to decide. Unmarried couples with children are especially in limbo without a will, as protections for a surviving partner don't always have the same weight as for those who are married. Those without an estate plan or medical directives are creating unexpected legal and financial hardships for those they leave behind."
A graduate of Columbia Law School and a practicing attorney for 15 years, Dorris is able to comment on intestate law, the impact on heirs of not having a will and ways to maximize wealth distribution. He is located in Tucson, Ariz.
Media Contact: David Paul,

Reading, Writing, Math…and Engineering
Dr. Christine M. Cunningham
Vice President
Museum of Science, Boston
"Younger students need experiences with engineering and technology if they're going to succeed in our 21st century world, which increasingly depends on these disciplines."
With the release of new "Next Generation Science Standards," engineering is no longer something you study only when you get to college; instead, it's now priority in elementary school. Dr. Cunningham, education researcher and vice president at the Museum of Science, Boston, can discuss the importance of early instruction in engineering (the mission of the Museum's National Center for Technological Literacy). She can explain how engineering builds 21st century skills like teamwork, creativity, and critical thinking, helps students learn from failure, and supports learning in science, social studies and art. She is the founder and director of Engineering is Elementary; past president of American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) K-12 and Pre-College Division; and has been has been cited as "Leader to Watch" by the International Technology Educational Association. Engineering is Elementary was recognized this year with a STEM Innovation Award from the Silicon Valley Education Foundation.
ProfNet Profile:
Media Contact: Cynthia Berger,

All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses a Lawsuit
Alex Brauer
Bailey Brauer PLLC in Dallas
"Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send and receive photos that self-delete, is all the rage among teens and others looking to share photos that might not help get them into Harvard. But users who send photos that might be used in litigation need to be aware that they still could be doing themselves more harm than good. If the photo or caption is relevant to a current or imminent lawsuit and someone is using Snapchat because of its temporary nature, then the party sending it may be subject to a penalty for destroying evidence. Those penalties could include everything from an adverse jury instruction all the way to a judgment in favor of the other side. In certain extreme circumstances, you could even face imprisonment."
Media Contact: Amy Hunt,  

Cracking Down on Fake Internet Reviews
Nicole Williams
Thompson & Knight in Dallas
"'Astroturfing,' the coordinated practice of posting fake online reviews, has led to public exposure and hefty fines for 19 companies and search engine optimization firms following a yearlong undercover operation by the New York State Attorney General's office. The unlawful tactics included creating multiple reviewer profiles and paying freelance writers to draft fake reviews. The success of the sting points out the pervasiveness of the unlawful practice and may prod more aggressive policing by federal and state authorities. While it appears that most of the businesses involved in this sting were aware of the fake reviews, it raises the question of whether companies will be expected to monitor these activities and perform due diligence before hiring vendors that may engage in similar practices. Regulators are increasingly aware of the need to protect consumers and companies from this type of false advertising."
Media Contact: Barry Pound,  

Dolphins' Bullying Disaster Offers Lessons
Tony Campiti
Thompson & Knight in Dallas
"The allegations of workplace bullying that continue to swirl around the Miami Dolphins' Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin should serve as a reminder for all companies to re-examine their own anti-harassment policies. Many businesses have these policies, but don't properly train employees about the benefits and responsibilities in enforcing them. Unfortunately, many supervisors aren't properly trained or don't know how to respond when faced with obvious violations. But failing to take such policies seriously makes no sense from a business or a legal standpoint. Beyond the potential legal liability, the Dolphins have taken a big hit to the team, its brand and the franchise, and for any business, the competitive and business costs that controversies like this impose can be very damaging. If the organization had exercised even an ounce of prevention through education and training, it may have avoided the entire fiasco."
Media Contact: Barry Pound,  

Arbitration Appeal Option May Not Be Attractive
Bill Whitehill
Alternative Dispute Resolution Attorney
Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP in Dallas
"One of the most attractive benefits of arbitration is the reduced potential for costly, time-consuming litigation from business and other disputes. However, under new rules from the American Arbitration Association and International Centre for Dispute Resolution, parties can now agree to include a provision allowing for an appeal of an arbitration ruling. This provision was established with an eye toward large, complex cases, where an appeal would seemingly be attractive. However, both sides must agree to the appellate provision, and that might not be easy to accomplish in most cases. The arbitration appellate process will differ from traditional appeals in its brevity and speed. It will be embraced by some parties who like the benefits of arbitration but who also want an opportunity to appeal an award if they believe the award is clearly wrong. This option was added to meet customer requests, but some parties may see the option as being contrary to the arbitration goals of speed and finality."
Media Contact: Rhonda Reddick,  

Oil Firm's Big Bribe Fine Could Have Been Worse
Tom Fox
FCPA and Compliance Ethics Lawyer and Blogger
Tom Fox Law in Houston
"Another oil company has agreed to a big settlement with the U.S. government over charges that it bribed officials in the Middle East and Africa to win contracts. But if not for a corporate attitude change, the $252.6 million settlement could have been worse for the defendant. The government's 2002-2011 investigation into practices by Weatherford International, an oilfield services company, was one of the longest-running in history. While initially denying responsibility despite reports from its own whistle-blower employees, Weatherford eventually stopped nose-thumbing U.S. regulators. It even hired a former Department of Justice prosecutor to run its compliance program. The company's newfound attitude led to lower fines than might otherwise have been expected. That's a lesson to be learned by other companies."
Media Contact: Kit Frieden,



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  • MEDIA 411: AIRING 911 CALLS. Airing 911 calls is becoming more common during newscasts but do they do any good to the general public? With the recent one year commemoration of the Sandy Hook school shootings, it makes the topic ever more relevant. The 911 tapes were released – but do we really need to hear them?   
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