Tag Archive: Associated Press

It was the agony of defeat … over and over again.

All throughout the garbage-time fourth quarter in South Bend, the voyeuristic NBC cameras kept focusing on the deadpan face of an obviously hurting 20-year-old college student.

He was anything Saturday but “So Good, So Cool, So Cal.”

The Associated Press pointed out that USC has already turned over the ball 19 times in eight games, emphasizing that 16 of these were committed by quarterback Sam Darnold.

There will be no all-expense-paid trip to New York in December.

Someone else will receive the Heisman.

There will be better days for Sam Darnold, maybe this coming weekend in Tempe.

He will celebrate his 21st birthday next June 5.

As a college professor, who once roamed the sidelines as a student football manager for both USC and Oregon in the mid-1970s, Almost DailyBrett must ask:

Are pre-season Heisman Trophy hype campaigns launched by university athletic departments/sports information offices in the best interest of a college-student/athlete, who is not old enough to legally order a beer?

Is the young stud ready for the plethora of writers, camera lenses, microphones and fawning stories? The media is absolutely superb at building up a celebrity; the beast is even better at crashing the new hero down to earth and stomping on him.

Some may contend these premature campaigns draw national media attention that carries over to the season and may lead to holding up the most famous stiff-arm in all of sports.

USC athletes need extra media attention in the second largest television market in the country?

Almost DailyBrett wonders whether more times than naught these athletic departments are setting up these young people, students at their school – most not ready for the limelight – for failure by the jury-judge-executioner media (e.g., MSESPN).

Believe it or not, these kids have to go to school, attend classes, submit papers, work on projects and take exams (okay, maybe not the University of North Carolina basketball team).

Your author knows as much as any other writer, how a mere university cannot control the Fourth Estate. If the folks in Bristol, Connecticut or Sports Illustrated wish to build up their list of Heisman candidates before the season starts, who is going to stop them?

Cats are easier to herd.

Halloween and The First CFP Rankings

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee will not release its rankings for the real contenders for the sport’s four playoff spots until Halloween, safely past the mid-point of the season.

If the NCAA is “wise” enough to put off the hoopla surrounding who could be playing in the first semifinal at the Rose Bowl and the second in the New Orleans Superdome, then why can’t this august body put a kibosh on overactive athletic departments, exploiting underage students?

Many say: “Where are the parents?” Almost DailyBrett asks: “Where are the university presidents?”

It doesn’t matter whether a student seeking the NFL degree attends a heavily covered traditional power (e.g., USC Heisman campaign for Sam Darnold and Matt Barkley) or less heavily covered sometimes power (e.g., Oregon with the Joey Harrington Times Square billboard and Marcus Mariota), the respective athletic departments/sports information departments need to remember the football team represents the university … not the other away around.

Football is a team sport. Yes, everyone knows a quarterback is the most equal-of-the-equals and has the best chance of holding up the Heisman hardware, but the trophy is not presented on a Southern California beach in August.

The 12+-week season is a grind. This year’s team may not be the same as last year’s team. Conferences abound with college towns and trap games. College football is much more unpredictable than the brand played by the National Field-Goal League (NFL).

Sam Darnold is talented, but clearly does not have the hogs in the offensive line or the skill players beside him. The Trojans are good, maybe the best in the Pac-12, in a down year for the conference. The league will not send a team to the playoff unless there is dog-eat-dog chaos in the other conferences.

Hopefully, Darnold’s parents will be wise enough to steer him to return to USC for another year. He needs the time to work on his game, hit the books and earn a degree in communications. There may even be a Heisman Trophy and the NFL dollars in his happier future.

Wonder if the USC Athletic Department/Sports Information Office can dial back the P.T. Barnum/Donald Trump hype and let a good college kid be a good college kid?











Consider the following equation:

A fast-breaking highly charged emotional story.

Plus mistaken identity.

Plus a news media determined to be the first to break the story.

Plus the unprecedented speed and reach of the Internet.

Plus the potential of vigilantes willing to take “justice” into their own hands.

All that equals the potential of some innocent person(s) being seriously hurt or worse.


It could have been Ryan Lanza as a result of the horrific Newtown, Ct. school shootings last Friday. Or it could have been David and Elaine McClain in the Treyvon Martin case this past spring.

For Ryan Lanza, (not to be confused yet again with his killer brother, Adam) Friday was a very bad day.

He found out that his mother is dead. His estranged brother killed 26 innocents, including 20 in a suburban Connecticut kindergarten. And to top it off,  law enforcement fingered the wrong Lanza…Ryan, not Adam.

And that meant the media, including the Associated Press with its international reach, had the wrong Lanza as well. The word spread like bonfire across cyberspace and the airwaves that Ryan Lanza had horrifically killed 27 innocents. In reality, Ryan Lanza was working in the Manhattan office of accounting firm, Ernst & Young, approximately 60 miles from Newtown, Connecticut. He was just doing his job.

Lanza’s social media sites turned ugly, real threatening ugly, real fast. He was forced to leave work out of fear for his well being.

“The Associated Press, relying on a law enforcement official who turned out to be mistaken, initially reported Ryan Lanza was the shooter,” MSN News reported. “Many other media outlets also reported as such, citing law enforcement officials…A friend of Lanza’s, former Jersey Journal newspaper staff writer Brett Wilshe, told the AP he ‘got really scared’ when he began hearing the media reports about Ryan Lanza, and sent him a message on Facebook asking what was going on and if he was OK.”

In defense of the media, it is only as good as the information they are provided. Not being as charitable, the media is always in such a bowels-in-an-uproar tizzy to be the first to break the news. In a fast breaking high-import, emotional story media types, particularly television networks, are often guilty of breaking the wrong news and having to correct the record.

And when that happens in the 21st Century the mistake is instantaneously compounded on social media with its global reach? Are we are running the risk that someone or a modern-day lynch mob will take justice into their own hands, even if the mistake is quickly corrected? Is any innocent person truly safe? Have you ever Googled your own name to check out the affairs of others who have the same name?


Earlier this year, film director/producer Spike Lee tweeted the address of the McClains, a law-abiding couple in their 70s, to his almost 240,000 Twitter followers. He was “relaying” the word that alleged Martin shooter George Zimmerman lived at that address. Wrong. The vigilantes went there seeking “justice.” The McClains were forced into hiding.

Some other questions come to mind: What if the address was correct? What if Zimmerman really lived there? What did Lee want the recipients of his tweets to do with this information?

Lee subsequently apologized to the McClains and he wrote them a big check. He asked everyone to leave this poor couple alone in peace.

For the media, the words of the Wizard of Westwood John Wooden come to mind: “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

Certainly, the lawyers for big media with deep pockets (e.g., ABC-Disney; NBC-Comcast/GE; CBS-Viacom; CNN-Time-Warner; Fox-News Corporation) must be concerned about their potential liability in mistaken identity cases. Even though it is difficult to successfully sue these major corporations, juries may not be so accommodating when someone loses their life as a result of the frantic rush to be first with the wrong information.

For public relations professionals, it means that brands and reputations can be quickly besmirched in a case of mistaken identity. Vigilance is now a 24/7/365 undertaking in our digital world.

Maybe, the networks and wire services should be a little less braggadocio when it comes to being first. The reality is that a media outlet will not always be first; some other organization will be first from time-to-time. How about being right? How about being accurate? How about double checking? Heck, how about triple checking?

“Are you sure it was Ryan Lanza?”

“Does George Zimmerman really live here?” (Yes, Spike Lee is not media, but the point about checking still applies)

Just asking an extra question or two or three may preclude someone from going into hiding, from being harassed at work, or even some other unfortunate event that triggers big-time headlines…and even a big-time legal judgment.









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