Imagine, say, you are concerned about Saving the Whales. That’s your issue.
Some college student somewhere starts a “save the whales” club. All of a sudden, TV producers, newspaper writers, photographers, all come out of the woodwork. They treat your movement – Save The Whales – in a hostile manner usually, but this time they are surprisingly even handed.
The college student that started the Save The Wales club may start thinking that he did something right. He may think, “wow, I am a genius. I was the one that finally broke the issue into the media. I was so professional they actually gave me even-handed coverage. I’m the new Whale’s best friend!”
So now the college student decides to hold a “Whale Rescue.” He announces to the media he is going to go to the lake next to campus and Save Some Whales. Save them from whom? Poachers. So the college student and his friend put on “Save The Whales” t-shirts and go down to the lake with a pair of binoculars to look for whales.
No whales show up, but hey, it’s good media for the cause, right? He must be doing something right because look at how much media attention he got!
Now, he’s basically the leader of the Save the Whales movement, because he’s the one on TV.
OK, so he graduates. No more Save the Whales campus club. But he’s still down for the cause. Fishing is a grand old tradition, and old fashioned fishermen knew how to avoid whales. Since they traditionally threw back the young and females of certain fish species, they were practically Save The Whales activists just ahead of their time.
So he dons a Fisherman’s uniform, hat and everything, and starts holding public demonstrations about conservation. The media follows him around everywhere. He makes some tough talk about how Greenpeace used to be all hardcore back in those days and we need that sort of militancy now to Save The Whales. Considering this guy is the one getting all the media exposure, he’s officially a Leader in the Movement. So he’s the one that gets to give speeches.
A lot of people, maybe old timers, say, “hey this guy actually doesn’t really know that much about Whales at all. In fact, he doesn’t even seem to know much about the environment generally. He’s not even good at the speeches and some of his ideas are down right hokey. Wouldn’t you rather listen to Dr. Phillip Barth, noted marine biologist who has studied these things for years and knows what he’s talking about?”
But fans of the student object. “That sounds like a conspiracy. Are you suggesting he’s not getting media attention because he’s the most effective and media-savvy marine biologist around? What’s wrong with wheat pasting our Save The Whale banners? Plus our Whale Watches get TV news coverage! At least we’re doing *something*!”
“Why did the media latch onto him? What did he actually do?”
“He’s media-savvy – everyone listens to him! I don’t see you on TV!”