US

Internal BP magazine paints rosy picture of oil spill

It’s an unstated rule in journalism: don’t write negative articles about your employer. BP seems to have gotten the memo.

BP has assigned two “reporters” to cover the oil spill, Tom Seslar and Paula Kolmar, but a June 15 blog posting on the BP website does not directly mention the damage the oil spill has caused.

Seslar, a reporter for the in-house magazine Planet BP, recently took an early-morning ride in an oil-spotting helicopter and recorded his observations on his blog. By the sound of it, there’s no better place to be.

“Because we’re all wearing headgear to protect our hearing from the roar of long blades whirling overhead, it’s strangely peaceful up here – just right for surrendering to some meditation,” Seslar wrote.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported on Planet BP’s upbeat tone in talking about the oil spill, quoting one local seafood entrepreneur saying, “There is no reason to hate BP.”

In the blog, Seslar danced around the cause of the disaster, referencing “errant oil” and oil that “escaped from the deepwater spill at the MC252 oil well off Louisiana.”

Kolmer, the other reporter, gushed about a specialist working with oil-covered birds, saying she has “endless compassion.”

“Wild and free seabirds diving for fish in the Gulf of Mexico or just floating on the water become heavily distressed when oil gets on their beaks, feathers and feet or if they eat something oiled,” Kolmer wrote.

In 2005, Planet BP won the International Association of Business Communicators Bronze Quill award for excellence in communications.

Echoing the broken window economic theory, Seslar also implied that the oil spill was an “economic contributor.”  That is to say, BP should be credited to some extent for bringing jobs to the region as result of the oil spill.

“My appreciation for the enormity of the oil industry as an economic contributor in the Gulf of Mexico climbed sharply within minutes after I hitched a ride aboard a helicopter that BP had chartered for a couple of oil hunters,” he wrote. “Those hunters – armed with binoculars and a camera with a large telephoto lens – are women from a global emergency response company hired by BP. Their job is to spot oil that has escaped from the deepwater spill at the MC252 oil well off Louisiana.”

But Seslar’s blog post veers off into a rambling trip through history that seemingly has little immediate correlation to the current Gulf crisis. For instance, Seslar rehashes the 1953 Jimmy Stewart film Thunder Bay as a glorified look at the oil business and includes a brief history lesson on oil drilling in the Gulf region.

Not surprisingly, Seslar’s journey to the Gulf  left him with a conclusion that those who write his paycheck could happily embrace.

“It’s likely there will be no alternative to the Gulf as a key source of American energy for decades to come,” Seslar wrote.