Adding to the Delta Zeta story’s legs

March 15, 2007

Today’s Bulldog Reporter Daily Dog newsletter includes a piece I wrote about what is happening to the media and using my analysis of the coverage of the Delta Zeta story as an example.

I commented yesterday about how the discussion about Delta Zeta and the NYT’s coverage is lasting well beyond the newspaper’s coverage. An important lesson for crisis communicators because this lengthens greatly the time of a crisis event and adds to the need to continue communicating. Those involved in the discussion after the media flash has gone are frequently the most interested and the most passionate about the topic (as some of the comments on crisisblogger can demonstrate.) Now I find myself contributing to the phenomenon.

I look forward to the discussion that will come from this. I just read the comment from Carl who points out the difference between print media and broadcast–noting that broadcast tends to the more sensational and entertainment focus rather than print because it is so driven by immediate ratings. I agree, Carl, but that too is changing. As all print media now have their news websites, they have become broadcasters. They not only now compete more on the basis of speed–immediacy is everything–but they also compete on the basis of immediate ratings. The ad dollars they generate both on their sites and by driving site viewers to their print versions is based on traffic to their sites. They are now also ratings driven and I think we are seeing the result of that. Whether or not the Delta Zeta story is an example, I am not sure. But more and more all news media are competing on similar terms and based on quickly generating as big an audience as they can.


4 Responses to “Adding to the Delta Zeta story’s legs”

  1. Wahine Says:

    Wow, I just checked back to see how the discussion was going, and I don’t know whether to apologize for asking the question or broker a pay for play traffic deal!

    (Perhaps next you could cover the John Stodder story in LA — how a PR professional copes when they (or their actions) become the controversy?)

    I went over to read the linked story, but there is a particularly obnoxious video ad running over it, which can be heard even if you tab over to another page… I don’t want to see “little people” appearing to stand on my browser, except on Saint Patrick’s Day.

    As you said, the Internet is definitely extending story life. Being a writer ensconced in my little hole, sometimes I miss the first flash of a news story and then catch up much later on when someone alerts me to a juicy or important story. I can’t be the only person who tries to find out what smidgen of news I’ve missed, and finds that the only people still talking are on blogs, while the more objectively written (usually) news releases have been archived to pay status.

    The trick is that if you don’t respond (thinking that it’s blown over), but you’ve got plenty of angry people screaming for your head in blogs, that can settle into a permanent black mark on your record. I think that’s what will happen to writer Garrison Keillor this week.

  2. GB Says:

    Please don’t apologize. I would never have guessed it but this has turned into the hottest topic on my blog so far and some fascinating discussion. What I find interesting (see the interchange with Norman Pressman and myself) is that those who are involved mostly have deep feelings about the sorority, the Greek system, the university or some such thing. I don’t. I only comment on the way the media and the blog world are responding to this situation. So it has turned into somewhat of a strange conversation, I keep talking about one thing and the commenters coming back and saying, yeah but, and then talk about something entirely different.

    Don’t know anything about Stodder or the Garrison Keillor situation so if you want to fill me in I might be crazy enough to blog about it.

  3. Tim O'Leary Says:

    Stories about the “no-goodniks” in higher education are always interesting, as these stories seem to reflect the zeitgeist of the day.
    I remember when I was a US Navy public affairs officer attending grad school in Washington, D.C. The Naval Academy was undergoing one of its periodic “cheating scandals” and it had made national news again. It turned out that several Midshipman were accused of cheating on their electrical engineering exam. Several of my grad school classmates were pinging on me about “why” the Middies were cheating, “what is it with those Naval Academy people?” I ws asked. Being the duty-Navy guy it fell to me to try to explain.
    I replied that I thought everyone had missed the point of the story–what was really news was not the fact that some college students were caught cheating–the real news was that the Middies were were being held accountable! Imagine, I said, if engineering students at their old college was accused of cheating and were trhreatened with expulsion–would that make the news? First of all, no one could imagine that happening at their school (Every college/university has a code of conduct, but how many students (and faculty) are held to those standards?). Second, if their school did enforce the standards, no one thought it would be newsworthy. What was really remarkable about this story was that none of my colleagues saw this story for what it really was. The fact that the Middies were being held accountable was the unstated subtext of the stories (more accountability/responsibilty expected from military officers?)–but the coverage, if I recall correctly, did not give the issue of the relationship between authority and accountability the workout it deserved.
    This was back in ’92-’93, before the time of Blogs. I doubt the coverage would have unfolded the way it then did if bloggers would have been chewing on this issue.

  4. gbaron Says:

    Thanks Tim, it is great to have you commenting here. I learned so much from you in our brief and occasional times we worked together (I remember asking you in 2001, what is a blog?) that I hope you keep commenting so I can keep learning.

    Thanks again for participating–here and also on the panel.

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