Sunday, November 13, 2011

Did The Media Get Joe Paterno Fired?

HOURS AFTER THE Penn Sate University board of trustees fired football coach Joe Paterno and the university president for their actions (and inaction) connected to the child sex scandal involving a former PSU football coach, students rioted in the streets. Among the ways they released their anger and frustration was by knocking over a television live truck.

The students, according to some reports, believe that the media got Joe Paterno fired.

“I think the point people are trying to make is the media is responsible for JoePa going down,” a PSU freshman told the New York Times.

While acknowledging that the rape of helpless children was awful, many people spoke to the media and wrote op/eds saying that the media put their focus on Joe Paterno rather than the actual suspect in these cases because focusing on the alleged perpetrator would not sell newspapers or draw eyes to newscasts or websites.

"You know what will sell, though?" a blogger/ journalist wrote. "The downfall of an American icon. A man who has spent 60 years building the reputation of a football program, a university, a whole town doing the 'legal minimum' but not his 'moral duty' being pummeled both in writing and by cameras and microphones everywhere he goes. I can guarantee you, if Penn State was coached by some no-name, the stories churned out would be about the victims and the men who perpetrated these crimes."

Did the media focus on the wrong person in this situation?

Or did the media act responsibly, reporting all angles?


CIndy Stansbury said...

Personally i can see both sides of the argument; Yes the media shouldve focused more on the actual suspect here but the media is not responsible for fireing JoePa. Joe let a case of child rape go un-punished plane and simple. The media didnt get joepa fired, joepa got joepa fired. The media simply saw an angle and took it.
I do believe however that more reporting shouldve been done about the actual victims in this case; the eight boys as opposed to the infamous JoePa. After all this story is theirs not his . This event distroyed their lives and no one is actually focusing on them here.

Rita Kraynak said...

I don't believe that the media was the ultimate reason for JoePa's firing. I do feel that the media is helpful in showing the citizen's all the right things to make many people think a lot of the blame fell on JoePa, but I think what really got him fired was himself.

Yes, JoePa did, in fact, tell a higher authority about the circumstance when it happened, but he didn't follow through with anything to see if police had investigated anything. JoePa went on for so many years knowing such an unfortunate situation had happened for so long, and continued to just let it sit and do nothing about it.

The media didn't focus on the wrong person, they have shown a lot of both sides and multiple people (i.e. McQueary), however, just as you wrote in the article, that the downfall of an American icon is going to sell, so, of course, that's what the media is going to report.

Nick Filauro said...

I think blaming the press for Joe Paterno's firing is naive and comes from a lot of anger and frustration. People are quick to blame the media for blowing things out of proportion or recording things incorrectly. Here, I find it hard to believe anyone can make a successful argument in support of those views.

Sandusky had been investigated on similar charges a couple of years before he was found out. When he was discovered, Paterno was told, and Paterno told a higher-up, and nothing happened. It's this inaction that people are so shocked by. Yes, Paterno considered Sandusky a close friend, and obviously the university had its own interests in mind - generally recruits might avoid playing for a school that remains in the dark about child molestation happening in their facilities over several years. But there are no excuses for this.

The media is focusing on Paterno because he's the most public figure in all of this. I had never heard the names Jerry Sandusky or Mike McQuery before this scandal, and now I will forever associate them with it. But Joe Paterno? He's as American as apple pie. Sure, Paterno sells papers, but that's BECAUSE he's the one people care the most about.

I know a lot of people think Paterno should still work for the school, and that he wasn't "morally wrong" because, well, he did his job - he reported the incident to his superiors. The problem is that he did nothing more. And that's how you lose people's trust. Doing the bare minimum. Paterno never did it as a coach, but he apparently did it as a person. And that's why he had to go.

I think anyone willing to point fingers at the media or riot in the streets or oppose PSU in moving on from this is in the wrong. Penn State needs to usher in a new era and get through this if they want to have any hope of retaining credibility, both in football and as an institution.

Theizu Telewoda said...

I do not believe the media is at fault. joePa got fired for his own negligence. Did the media "hype" his involvement? Yes. He's a star football coach. They did the same thing to Jim Tressel. I do think the media and the students need to focus on the situation at hand. Yes their beloved coach is gone but what about the hurt children who were involved? The media was doing its job by reporting what the people want to know, not purposely getting people fired.

Scott Samuel David Weiss said...

Usually, the media has a great impact on results of situations. In the Jerry Sandusky fiascos, then GA Mike McQueary in 2002 saw first-hand Sundusky without clothes on his body in the Penn State locker room. The next day (March 2002), McQueary told Joe Paterno about the incident in which Paterno then told the athletic department instead of higher authorities. Recently (November 2011), the Sandusky shenanigans took a toll on Penn State as school president Graham Spanier and head coach Joe Paterno of PSU football were given the boot. Scapegoat is the proper term to define Paterno in this situation as McQueary was the one who saw the incident first-hand. Children in their primary schools learn that if you see any suspicious behavior that could be life threatening, do not even think about seeing the authorities, immediately contact the authorities to resolve the situation in a quick manner. Journalism's first obligation is to the truth, but when the media grew this crisis to the point where jobs were expunged, the truth set people free in a nefarious and incorrect way. D.C. Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos had been recently kidnapped and found alive, but his life-threatening manner had been covered as a footnote due to a fiasco that had children at risk from a cold case (November 2011).
-Scott Samuel David Weiss
Temple Class of 2015

Ariane Pepsin said...

The media was obviously going to go after the biggest figure of the school, as they would with any other place that a scandal occurs. I don't agree with Paterno being fired, I think the smarter thing would have been to let him finish out the year and resign. He definitely could have done more than he did, but when you really look at it, he told the person that was next above him in terms of authority. He didn't deserve to just be tossed out after all he's done for Penn State. The media should have focused more on McQueary and his blatant ignorance, and obviously on Sandusky and the victims. I personally feel the entire coaching staff should be fired,not just JoePa, because they all obviously knew about it.

Sunil Chopade said...

I'm somewhat surprised the media didn't latch onto Sandusky's character sooner (though today's coverage on CNN was fairly Sandusky-centric). The facts -some of which are glaring, like his home's location right next to a middle school- coming out about his life are a perfect-storm of incrimination. This is compounded with Sandusky's own admission lately of having showered and "horsed around" with kids after practice. Of course there was the star power of Joe Paterno, but the whole JoePa fixation seems to have been played out since he's received his due punishment. Nevertheless, Penn State has lost a lot of credibility, not just as an academic and athletic institution but as a collection of human beings.

Alexis Wilkinson said...

I think the media did focus on the wrong person but they did it because they knew it would be a bigger story to write about Joe Paterno rather than the real suspect. Paterno has been a huge part of Penn State so the reporters and media went after him because he is a bigger name than the actual suspect.

Anonymous said...

joe paterno got joe paterno fired (and he's not Joe PA anymore, please, for the love of god and all that's holy).
the media did, and continue to do, their jobs.
Sandusky needs his day in court before the media can really get to him. that's basic ethics. but paterno hasn't been charged with any legal wrongdoing (yet, but it's coming, mark my words) just an incredible, inhuman, moral failing (one that he may have a pattern of: ) and that's what journalist are hired to do. We're independent monitors of power, and PSU has a terrible degree of power in this state.


Annie said...

Joe Paterno was the face of Penn State football and all that comes with it. And this is what is coming with it, so he is that face of this too. Everyone knows he wasn't the one molesting kids but he wasn't the one ending it either.

I feel bad for him that after all he's done this is what he'll be remembered for but he did it to himself.

John Murrow said...

I dont think the media focused on the wrong person, but I think it depends on what you are watching. Sportscenter covered the scandal for an entire week straight with barely anything else covered. The featured Joe Paterno and for good reason, he was the one who was losing his job. Sandusky was fired a long time ago, and the job of Sportscenter is to cover sports, not rape. They covered the legend who lost his job, not the guy who did it and had nothing to do with sports in the past 10 years.

Karina Cheung said...

I think the media played a small part, but from what I understand big donors of the college were calling and demanding that he get fired, which is enough to sway anyone's decision. Jerry Sandusky definitely should have been focused on more and as a University Employee there may be some policies and rules to go about reporting the incident. However, I do believe he should've done more, but even JoPa isn't above the law, but overall the media did not have him fired.

Shannon McLaughlin said...

I think Joe Paterno did something wrong, and the media played it's role correctly. If they had not put so much pressure on him there would have been few repercussions for him. I do think that they focused too much on Paterno and not enough on Sandusky, and the real issue, which was that football and money took priority over children's lives.

Ruth Garrett said...

I can understand why students at PSU would blame the media for their biggest icon getting fired. His face was all over the newspapers and websites of national media outlets following the scandal uproar. But, in the end, the media did not twist anything JoePa actually did, all of the reports I came across were truthful. He got fired because he did not take enough action to ensure the safety and well-being of children around his staff. It was much easier for news organizations to focus on JoePa because he is such a household name, and his career coming to an end is a much bigger deal for the public than some pedophile finally getting his punishment.

Kyle Martin said...

Whether there was a big name coach at Penn State like Joe Paterno or a no name coach, the sex scandal case that has rocked this university would have been a big news story regardless. Penn State's football program is one of the most well-known in the country.

Nonetheless, the fact that Joe Paterno was the coach at Penn State has changed the way the media has focused on this story. Joe Paterno is the face of not only Penn State football, but the face of the university and in many regards, the face of major college football. He is a legend and because of that, he has taken the fall for another person's sick actions.

Jerry Sandusky is the criminal. If Mike McQueary truly did not put a stop to Sandusky nearly ten years ago when he witnessed Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy, he is also a criminal. Joe Paterno simply failed to do enough in reporting this case.

I was discussing this case with a friend of mine the other day, and he didn't know much about it all. What he did think he knew though was that Joe Paterno was the man who had sexually assaulted the boys. His reasoning: "I thought that is why Paterno is the one in the media and why he got fired." This came off very ignorant to me because he hadn't taken the time to learn the facts but it proved why I believe that the media did focus on the wrong person in this case.

Alexis Byrd said...

I don't believe that the media got Paterno fired, because in the end it was his own actions that got him fired. The media did help inform others about the situation, and it did cause quite the up roar. The media knew that Paterno was a popular Penn State figure, and that they would get plenty views. Ultimately Joe Paterno's actions got him fired.

Angiekify said...

Personally i can see both sides of the argument; Yes the media shouldve focused more on the actual suspect here but the media is not responsible for fireing JoePa. Joe let a case of child rape go un-punished plane and simple. The media didnt get joepa fired, joepa got joepa fired. The media simply saw an angle and took it. I do believe however that more reporting shouldve been done about the actual victims in this case; the eight boys as opposed to the infamous JoePa. After all this story is theirs not his . This event distroyed their lives and no one is actually focusing on them here.