The Media Got Exactly What It Wanted: Coach Joe Paterno Fired

I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Temple University. I decided to be a communicator and have been for the past 21 years. Make no doubt about it, a journalist and a communicator are very different! A journalist’s job is to report the news. A communicator’s job is different. What is the job of ESPN or Fox Sports? Is their primary goal reporting the sporting news or communicating, interpreting, and influencing it? A trusted journalist can quickly become distrusted when this line is crossed.

War of the Worlds¬†was a book written by H.G. Wells. An adapted version of the story was broadcast on CBS radio in 1938. There were no commercials and as the story unfolded about Martians taking over, panic began to set in. Anxiety levels increased and pure panic was the result. The public reaction was hysteria and anger; sound familiar? Even Adolf Hitler cited the panic when he referred to the “evidence of the decadence and corrupt condition of democracy.”

The lesson learned in 1938 during Halloween was don’t fabricate a story and air it on the radio as news. Stick to reporting! I wonder if we need to relearn this lesson in 2011?

One could argue that even our modern day presidential elections are decided primarily on the basis of the actions of the media. What is reported and what it not reported? Why? The power of the media is well-known and sometimes abused. This power must be kept in check. Who is even allowed to question the media?

Recently Franco Harris took a different view on the firing of Coach Paterno from ESPN and the mainstream media. I heard one radio broadcaster completely lambast Franco Harris, basically calling him an idiot, just because he offered a different opinion. The mainstream mediaheads also cannot understand the reaction in State College among the students. Why? Because it is so foreign to their way of thinking/reporting? Who is right? Can anyone question the media and survive? Who in their right mind would ever want to run for president or head coach and have to face the media firestorm?

The media went after Coach Paterno and he was fired. Now the media is going after McQuery. Will they be satisfied then or will someone else be the next target? Is this truly the job of the media? What happened to basic reporting the facts? Of course, now ESPN would have us believe that poker is a sport. And then they have the audacity to criticize an athlete like Pete Rose who gambled on a sporting event? ESPN’s job should be to report the news, not create news. I guess they morphed into entertainment and sensationalism the same way the mainstream media did, too. Fair and balanced media is a lost art. Will it ever be rediscovered?

There’s an old song with these lyrics: “Momma said there’d be day’s like this, there’d be days like this, my momma said.”

I don’t think momma ever imagined the media in our country would become so powerful, so absolutely power-hungry, and so much different from what a journalist is supposed to do: report the news.

No, momma could never have dreamed there’d be days like this. And our country is all the worse for it, too. People blame our changing culture, the modern times, or point fingers at conservative or liberal leaders. Maybe we should blame media. We are going down a very dangerous path of not merely reporting the news but creating news, and it needs to stop!