Saturday, September 29, 2007

Living through Lacrosse Panel

John Burness: need to understand the degree of media frenzy in this case
3400 stories about Duke in month before case in national and int'l media--95% were positive
7300 in March
33,000 in April 2006

"intensity and duration of this story is in my experience unprecedented"

in early stages of case, almost didn't matter what Duke said or did; media rushed to stereotype [as of course, did activist Duke profs]

"variable that made this story so powerful, in the end, was Duke University"--Duke had been on pedestal

nothing that knocked story off front pages or 24-7 cable news networks

if Duke could have done it again:
1) didn't anticipate degree to which frenzy would overpower Duke's preferred message; universities not used to investing in pr firms like corporations would do
2) didn't anticipate synergy between role of blogs and press--blogs created information for press, also fanning flame; heightening perception of story that from Duke's perception 'wasn't particularly accurate"

Coleman:

agreed as a committee that the report would speak for itself--Coleman had press conference--said "this is our report; you should read it'--wanted disagreement to be one about facts

"public doesn't fully appreciate how easy it is" for innocent people to be convicted; once it happens, very difficult to undo

what would he have done differently? wish he had met with Joyner to speak about mutual concerns--normally he and Joyner agree--might have made a difference if he had expressed an impact the case had on defendants

Faulks (NCCU law professor)

NCCU law school much more reserved in response than NCCU as a whole (Joyner the exception)

if done differently: "I would hope that the university would have made better choices about how they showed support for the accuser" rather than rushing to take more political stance

hopefully, Duke and NCCU will communicate more frequently in aftermath of case

Haagen: emergency faculty meeting--"level of interest and excitement" that was greater than he had anticipated

basic principles:

1) had to stay out of criminal case;
2) follow existing procedures--could be no individual discipline related to actions associated with party

wanted to create common base of information to shifting set of questions--turned to Coleman as chair of committee, with promise to back him wherever his information was

3) went to athletic department to speak with some of the coaches--immediately became clear to him that coaches were quite isolated within institution--led to creation of faculty/athletics associates program

tried to stay away from anything specifically related to the case, rhetorically

4) hoped to maintain collegial relations throughout

what would he do differently?

did 50 hrs of press interviews in first week after crisis erupted--wished he had been more effective in communicating; thinks some of his language just wasn't understood

probably needed to blunter to ensure that message got out

Quintana

general assignment reporter--local TV news
irritating at times to see national media get access to sources they didn't--given that he was local reporter

interesting to see story take on broader context given the national press coverage

story was like a hydra--had many different sides

spoke to some Duke students who felt the players were being thrown under bus--but afraid to speak on camera, because feared getting in trouble
wishes that he could have done more to get this aspect of the story out

Rotberg (ex-Chronicle reporter):

closer to students than any more powerful media sources; but also were students first--had their exams, etc.

Chronicle steamrolled to some extent--in retrospect, should have done more to limit access to student reporters; but in retrospect, Chron handled the case well

Q: What should other groups (faculty, adm., media, defense counsel) done better?

Burness: "This was not the media's finest hour."
media went to stereotype from the start--and think things are continued to be stereotyped

He was more conscious of giving local media rather than national media the access

tried to get media to understand the power of how the stereotypes were affecting the story

"some of the columns in the best newspapers in this country were egregious in their errors"--NYT early coverage (requested 10 NYT corrections early on, got five, should have gotten ten)

early tactical error by defense attorneys: (1) perp walk, put sweatshirts over their heads;
(2) no speaking 4-5 early days (though now understand the reasons for this silence--construction of digital alibi, etc.)

also conscious of where the administration could have done a better job: Burness first statements said that students were cooperating; Brodhead first statement said that there were differing versions of the story

weren't as effective in taking messages Duke had (available on website) to the public--too passive, people wouldn't look for it

Coleman

a lot of people who performed in 'admirable" ways; some disappointments

a lot of people who were in position to affect what public's lesson should have been failed

guesses "that a lot of the 88 didn't carefully read what they had signed"

case could have been a bridge, but becoming more of a wall
accused students came out of it surprisingly calm--lacrosse supporters came out of affair very angry

failure to appreciate anger of poor who have suffered in earlier miscarriages of justice

he did what he's done in any such cases--main difference is that people were paying attention in this case

Faulks: her surprise that Duke told students not to get lawyer
surprised by media's failures--but more so institutional failures (Duke/NCCU) in using this instance to discuss sexual violence against women, athletes and problems
[but, of course, nothing occurred in this instance??]

media had opportunity to get perspectives from faculty at NCCU--such as a specialist in under-reporting of rape, prevalence of date rape at universities

serious misconduct of DA not as much of an aberration as people thought--problem is often that prosecutors rush to judgment
need to make fundamental changes on limiting power of prosecutors

Haagen: it is very disputed that students were told not to hire lawyers
one of key problems in this case was that people would know things that were in fact disputed

thinks Duke did try and reflect--though not sure that discussions were as productive as they might have been

in the end, eventually things went well (State Bar action, AG, etc.)

failure of a a variety of groups of people to recognize that they should make common cause

Duke coaches were "remarkable" in their performance--felt "assaulted," but didn't become bitter, self-restraint was impressive

tough matter: when you have an opportunity to raise your issues, how aggressively should you exploit that? what are your other responsibilities?

"My deepest concern was that a number of people didn't ask very seriously what the tradeoffs were when they used an opportunity to push an issue."

Quintana: the case was completely tried in the public; wouldn't have happened if the defense attorneys hadn't realized this early on

University seemed to be overly conscious of image

story was about "privilege getting its comeuppance"

wasn't a face of the university to which the Univ. had access

Rotberg: "complete confusion in which all of these events were taking place"

"complete departure from everything we were raised to believe" to see that Nifong's goal wasn't to look after public, but himself

Final thoughts:

Burness: opens an interesting lens in what goes on in American society; rush to judgment, stereotyping; and how people get and process information
willingness to accept something just because it's put out

Nifong's behavior might not have been unprecedented, but his visibility was unprecedented in pursuing a fraudulent case

Coleman:

accept that students were innocent, because of extraordinary series of events
too easy to look back and try and deconstruct the case; importance to consider, in that process, how these things would have changed the overall outcome

what Duke did affected what others did

Faulks:
media needs to be more innovative in covering stories related to race, class, gender, and region; old way is completely unfair

society needs to be better in regulating the criminal justice process

Haagen:

rushing to judgment is a systemic problem
story of case: "all the news that fits we print"

Rotberg:

"case exposed the basest character of the media"

9 comments:

Debrah said...

"..... didn't anticipate synergy between role of blogs and press--blogs created information for press, also fanning flame; heightening perception of story that from Duke's perception 'wasn't particularly accurate"


())))))))))))) :>) :>) (((((((((((((()

no justice, no peace said...

inre: "...universities not used to investing in pr firms like corporations would do..."

That's laughable. The Fuqua school of business likely has people teaching crisis management. If they do not then they should be considered second tier.

Members of the BOT certainly understand the need for competent PR.

The Duke administration choose to fall back on their belief systems which was(and remains) defined by the Klan of 88. And what PR they put forth was geared toward supporting that world view.

That world view was/is based upon a "fantastic lie(s)".

no justice, no peace said...

Just heard a great and relevant story.

About thirty years ago a friend and his buddy arrived late to their large history class. It had about 300 students and was taught by a Klan of 88-Marxist styled, tenured professor. He hated America. America was consistently presented as an imperialistic oppressor, blah, blah, blah...

Well these guys had to sit up front since they were late. This intellectual was so awful that nobody else would sit up front.

The presentation (no discussion) turned to the history of the oil business. One historic and prominent oil man was lambasted and presented, among other things, as being crooked. My pal's ears perked-up immediately and he could see his friend sit up in his chair becoming more attentive.

After several minutes of pap being delivered, my buddy's friend had heard enough and raised his hand. After several more minutes of indoctrination the professor called upon the young man.

The young man stood and then proceeded to itemize a half dozen facts about both the histroic oil man and the oil business to the entire class. He did this succinctly and in great and accurate detail.

The student's defense demonstrated to the class that the professor didn't know anything about the oil man or the oil business and was in fact a fraud.

Red-faced with embarassment, the professor challenged the young man as to where he got his information.

The young man replied that the historic oilman was his grandfather.

Upon hearing this the class stood, cheered, high-fived, and erupted in applause.

The professor dismissed the class.

One hopes that the grandchildren of Seligmann, Evans and Finnerty, and others will stand and deliver similar corrections as the academic frauds attempt to revise the truth about the hoax in the future.

Nicole said...

I am no a vindictive person but, reading UPI my blood pressure just shot up.It was not only evil, but criminal how the entire cast played to Nifong's political ambitions: Brodhead, Burgess, Alleva, the 88 Gang, Gottlieb and the media - Nancy Grace (I hope she gets married soon and purges herself of the vitriol inside her) HS, etc.
I hope Nifong will forfeit all his pension rights for which he was to sacrifice the freedom of three innocent people and the peace of mind of 43 others and their parents.It shocked me to read that the father of one of the lacrosse unindicted players, a retired firefighter, brought the deed of his house as pledge for the freedom of his son. It is outrageous what happened in Durham last year and, again, I am thankful to Professor Johnson and Mr. Taylor for exposing the Duke hoax. It should be a bestseller, if readers know how to choose an exceptional book, an eye opener.
I hope Nifong, Meehan, Gottlieb, Peterson, Baker and all his other enablers, too many to mention, will pay dearly - at least financially for their prejudicial, sick minds

Anonymous said...

I remember the story of the retired 9/11 firefighter and the deed to his hourse, when it occurred. 'What is going on here " was my immediate reaction. Clearly, the stories of the "priviliged group" were not true.
Did anyone ever establish that Crystal really attended NCCU?

Gary Packwood said...

no justice, no peace 12:25 said...

...inre: "...universities not used to investing in pr firms like corporations would do..."
...That's laughable. The Fuqua school of business likely has people teaching crisis management. If they do not then they should be considered second tier.
...Members of the BOT certainly understand the need for competent PR.
...The Duke administration choose to fall back on their belief systems which was(and remains) defined by the Klan of 88. And what PR they put forth was geared toward supporting that world view.
....That world view was/is based upon a "fantastic lie(s)".
::
I'm sure that Fuqua does have people teaching crisis management however it should be pointed out that NCCU has the Institute where emergency management is taught and practiced.

"North Carolina Central University announced in October (2005) that it will establish an Institute for Homeland Security & Workforce Development to better educate students and the local community about issues related to terrorism and EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT."

The Duke lacrosse hoax required a PRACTICED emergency management response.

Fuqua need to crawl off its Tier #1 and go down the street and talk to the folks at NCCU who have the government funded Institute ...for Emergency Management.
::
GP

bill anderson said...

Does anyone think that John Burness did NOT contribute to the media frenzy with his constant off-the-record sliming the lacrosse players? This man constantly called the players -- his words -- "bad actors" and did whatever he could to whip up media prejudice against them.

These people are not going to be able to rewrite history now. The trail of their comments is too long and too visible.

no justice, no peace said...

Emergency Management and Crisis Management are two separate animals.

Emergency = Katrina.

Crisis = Mattel and lead-based paint.

Both require leadership. Neither saw any.

Duke's PR spin was atrocious.

An emergency response begins with planning and then action.

A crisis begins with transparency and honesty. Duke showed (shows)neither. I would bet that studies on Enron, Tylenol (product tampering), etc. are taught in the Fuqua school.

Again, if they are not then it should not be a considered a first-rate b-school.

Ralph Phelan said...

"spoke to some Duke students who felt the players were being thrown under bus--but afraid to speak on camera, because feared getting in trouble"

!!!!!!!!

This really is very important. Think of the implications for what the student experience of Duke is really like.

It'ss sad the guy didn't follow up. A few of those masked-face/modified-voice interviews would have illuminated what was really happening in PC-land.

And the reporter would