Sunday, August 17, 2008

Watching a Public Relations Catastrophe for Policy Debate


They say that no publicity is bad publicity, but I am not sure that is true. An event from last March is now rising to the surface of the global media, and I am not sure it is a good thing.

Two policy debate coaches had a row after the quarterfinal round at the CEDA National Debate Tournament. There was shouting, profanity and finally one coach dropped his pants to the room (although the underwear stayed up). The event was videotaped and then recently posted on YouTube.

Here are some points to remember about this story:
  • Many of the reports are highly inaccurate and downright wrong, so be careful reading
  • The video leaves out the context of the situation and how it developed
  • Many of the stories are using the event to promote their own agenda, whatever it is: racial, anti-intellectual, voyeour, anti-debate, anti-youth, anti-university, etc.
  • The two people most involved, I am told, have made up and moved on

It has gone viral. When I woke up Friday morning there were 282 stories. An hour later there were 288 stories. Ten minutes later 290 stories. Many of the stories are by the AP's Maria Sudekum Fisher. And so it goes.

Both universities are now investigating the situation. I will report on that when it comes down.

I am not going to try and fill in details or take sides or make judgments. There is too much of that already. What I want to report on is the emerging media storm and how it influences debate, especially in the United States.

If you want to see all the sources, go to
http://news.google.com/?ncl=1236737470&hl=en&scoring=d

Now the count is 362 stories.

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