Monday, April 02, 2012

Being First, Being Scared

Breaking news from the old home front regarding Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino involved in a motorcycle accident and requiring hospitalization.

Since it happens on April 1, obviously, some trepidation.

But it didn't get reported until April 2.

The way it gets into the media is through a morning radio talk show first, which was called out as a hoax by fans and other television media. Until an hour later, Arkansas State Police began to confirm.

The university issued a statement, but as one can expect, the media -- both legacy and new -- are actively pinging their sources. ASP is saying it may be two to three days before the police report is done. University is citing family desire for no info. Hospitals are standing by HIPPA.

And, in the absence of other details, expect this to fester for some time.

Nature -- and the internet -- abhors a vacuum. So instead of hard details on the coach's condition, was he wearing a helmet, etc., we'll have notes about his motorcycle ownership, his love of the hobby, gleaned from older stories.

@NWAAlex: "Petrino told me his wife bought him a Harley in an auction. He said he'd take casual rides around Beaver Lake."

@NWAAlex: "Petrino told me he had never gotten into a bad accident on a motorcycle, but he did fall as a kid on dirt bikes. #arpreps"

@5NEWS: "A gust of wind may have blown Coach Petrino's motorcycle off the road Sunday, police source says."

Why the quick rush to say false? No one wants to be on the wrong side of this story, and it was easy to bandwagon up on a morning talk show. The very active Razorback fan base ready with pitchforks and torches to have the FCC yank the radio station license for broadcasting "false information".

Reminds us again of the fluid nature of things, and at what risk being first?

You also begin to have the media quoting itself with no direct info out there:

@cbahn: "RT @schadjoe: Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino (cycle accident) is "pretty banged up" but "will recover" person close to coach says"

@TJCarpenterShow: "RT @TomMurphyADG: Source close said Petrino had multiple broken ribs, "all kind of cuts and bruises," neck sprain, but going to be OK."

@5NewsSports: "As of 9:30am, still no statement released from the University of Arkansas on the condition of Bobby Petrino"

All of which reveals the pressure that's on the official sources. Jump out ahead and you at least offend the employee; at worst legally violate HIPPA. Wait too long and the institution becomes the story.

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