“I don’t want to say much about them as individuals but I’ll just say that this particular fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi — it’s really emblematic in a lot of ways of sort of like elitist fraternity culture … They’re just so incredibly wealthy. Their alumni are very influential … They’re on Wall Street, they’re in politics.” – Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely

“No ritualized sexual assault is part of our pledging or initiating process. This notion is vile, and we vehemently refute this claim.” – Statement by Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity

“In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced.”  — Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana apologyUVAfraternity1

Political and corporate PR pros can spot them a mile away.

They are supposed to be objective reporters. However, they harbor a deep-seated ideological agenda.

They are interested only in facts that fit their preconceived narrative and anything and everything else is immediately deemed to be irrelevant and discarded.

They are bound and determined to produce copy (e.g., conventional, digital, broadcast) that triggers an impact. They are committed to social change at your expense.

And they will get away with it, unless there are those with the courage to proclaim they are wrong, dead wrong.

The “Right” Target

“The story and Erdely’s comments about it, moreover, suggest an effort to produce impact journalism … It starts with this business about choosing just the “right” school for the story. What is that all about?” – Erik Wemple of the Washington Post

It’s difficult to find a more sensitive subject than rape on campus, and for good reason. It unfortunately happens, and in each and every case it needs to be addressed quickly, decisively and severely by universities and law enforcement.

Erdely wrote about a student named, Jackie, and an alleged incident at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia on a late September weekend two years ago. The fraternity claims that no social events were scheduled at the house that particular weekend, and steadfastly defends itself.

No alleged perpetrator from the fraternity was interviewed by Erdely for her Rolling Stone, “A Rape on Campus” piece. The fraternity has been the scene of massive protests and the house was vandalized. Fraternity and sorority activities have been suspended on the UVA campus.

The reliability of Jackie has come into question, so much so that Rolling Stone issued an apology.rollingstonestory

The public relations issue here pertains to targeting, in this case the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

“I made contact with a student activist at the school who told me a lot about the culture of the school — that was one of the important things, sort of criteria that I wanted when I was looking for the right school to focus on,” said Erdely.

Hmmm … She contacted an “activist.” UVA was the “right” school. There was an “elitist fraternity culture.” Their alumni are on “Wall Street.”

Almost DailyBrett must ask: What do these social justice “facts” have to do with campus safety? Zero.

“Dry-by Journalism”

“Like a neighborhood thrown into chaos by drive-by violence, our tightly knit community has experienced the full fury of drive-by journalism in the 21st century.” — University of Virginia Rector George Keith Martin

“… She (Erdely) did have an agenda and part of that agenda was showing how monstrous fraternities themselves as an institution are and blaming the administration for a lot of these sexual assaults.” – University of Virginia co-ed Alex Pinkleton

There is no doubt about the ideological leaning of music and entertainment-oriented Rolling Stone. The same can be said for oodles of other media outlets, some on the right, more on the left.

If a publication, news aggregator, blogger, broadcaster is known for editorially advocating a certain point of view, it still needs to ensure that its favored ideology is not dominating reporter copy. Forget about objectivity; the majority of these reporters are not fair and balanced, and therefore they really need editors willing to ask the tough post-reporting questions. That obviously didn’t happen at Rolling Stone.rollingstonecover

For the public relations professional of the “target” institution (e.g., Wall Street, Fortune 500 company, major university, incoming majorities in Congress), you must keep your powder dry.

For instance, the University of Virginia needs to be able to immediately cite chapter and verse about anything and everything it does to protect all of its students. There is little doubt this list is extensive. Get ready to recite.

For fraternities on campus, you are a target. Get used to it. Be ready to defend your fraternity.

Forget about going to the editor, the reporter needs to be confronted. This person is not your friend, and never will be your friend. While maintaining your professionalism, you need to call this reporter out. Tell the reporter that your employer is being targeted, and you know this is indeed the case.

Remind that person that you are fully prepared to defend your organization, including using digital self-publishing (e.g., University of Virginia). This most likely will neither be the first time nor the last time you will be in a fight with a reporter. This is all part of the job.

Expect an impassioned response complete with name calling (e.g., class privilege, system of exploitation) all intended to bully, intimidate and stifle dissent.

Let’s face it: The notion of pure objectivity by reporters, editors, bloggers, and correspondents is a joke. The vast majority of reporters have a personal ideology, but the best put these thoughts aside and do their jobs. There are a chosen few, who are not there to report the news, but to “impact” social change. They are not journalists, but activists in disguise.

Ms. Erdely needs to be shown the door by Rolling Stone. Look for her holding up a sign right by the bull statue on Wall Street.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2015/03/23/charlottesville-police-make-clear-that-rolling-stone-story-is-a-complete-crock/?wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2014/12/15/u-va-rape-survivor-rolling-stone-reporter-had-an-agenda/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2014/12/05/rolling-stones-disastrous-u-va-story-a-case-of-real-media-bias/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/u-va-fraternity-to-rebut-claims-of-gang-rape-in-rolling-stone/2014/12/05/5fa5f7d2-7c91-11e4-84d4-7c896b90abdc_story.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/u-va-board-leader-denounces-drive-by-journalism-of-rolling-stone/2014/12/19/47980410-87b7-11e4-9534-f79a23c40e6c_story.html

http://www.rollingstone.com/

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-20141119

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-rolling-stone-rape-story-20141205-story.html

http://www.virginia.edu/

 

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