Penn State fires Paterno, students riot: 5 media lessons learned

The university’s Board of Trustees fired the legendary football coach for his role in the child sex-abuse scandal. A look at the PR fallout.

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I didn’t graduate from Penn State. In fact, I’ve never even been on the campus.

But in the last few days, that school has provided me with many news, PR, and communication lessons.

In the wake of the disgusting allegations of an ongoing child sex scandal and the subsequent firings of football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier, I offer my own observations.

Disclaimer: I am the mother of two. I’m a former radio news reporter and news director. I’ve covered hundreds of press conferences and many crisis communications trainings.

1. The old adage, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question” clearly did not apply to Wednesday night’s press conference.

2. Every Penn State student resorting to violence and protesting the firing of Joe Paterno should be tossed out of school. In this case, college does not equal smart. This is the stuff that is not contained in textbooks.

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