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  • 11.15.11

A Social Event Takes Social Media To Understand

Last week, a lot of news broke out of Penn State.  It broke quickly.  Almost too quickly and without enough facts for everyone to wrap their head around.  With this in mind, I decided to start fresh this week and try to gain a new perspective on this social event by checking out the sentiment on Twitter to see who everyone is blaming for everything that’s gone wrong with my alma mater.  I want to discover people’s perception of why Penn State now finds itself up to its Nittany ears in bad, bad press.   Is it solely Jerry Sandusky, the alleged pedophile?  Is it Paterno?  Is it the assistant coach Mike McQueary who didn’t break up the abuse?  Is it the media?

Each Tweet below represents a different person, group or thing that is catching some of the blame for the Penn State scandal (I can’t believe this hasn’t been dubbed a catchy nickname yet).

Penn State Scandal Tweets

As you can see, it’s a bit confusing and no one person, institution or even month is catching all the blame (I’m talking about you, November!).  I didn’t have to turn on the evening news to see that my own friends who are PSU alum and fans were divided on the issue:

Penn State Scandal Facebook Feed

No matter who you want to blame, one thing is for sure.  Penn State did a really, really bad job of crisis communications.  Really bad.  I won’t take you through the entire fiasco, but here are some of the highlights.  First, administrators let their President release a statement giving his unconditional support to Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, the two men at the helm of the cover up.  This is a fantastic idea, but only if you want to lose your job and pin the public against your organization.  Both happened.

After Penn state cancelled its weekly football press conference on Wednesday, Paterno spoke up himself and decided to call it a day by retiring for good at the end of the season. Usually, the public does not like watching people go on their own terms during a scandal.  No exceptions here.  Penn State also failed to address the victims first in this crisis and is still trying to figure out exactly how to get rid of Curley, Schultz and McQueary with the least amount of legal implications.

Many argue that we should wait for the facts and not rush to judgment just because the media is pushing for it.  Some Paterno supporters are saying he was fired under pressure placed by the media onto the Board of Trustees.  Others blame news outlets for making Paterno into a scapegoat while some simply blame corrupt administrators for their own wrongdoing.  Well, after continual coverage, non-stop headlines and some entertaining interviews, one organization emerged as an unprecedented beneficiary of all the bad news.

Penn State ESPN Double Rating


  • avatar
    Emily Leahy Says:

    Great post, John. One of the things I find interesting about seeing events through the social lens is actually reading what everyone I know — from close friends to people who are just Twitter handles — thinks about the event. I would probably never have as many real-life conversations about Penn State, but social gives me the full accounting of all possible viewpoints on a topic.

    • 11.15.11
    • 11:13 pm

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