Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Great Words from Old Source

I discovered a copy of the 1956 president's address to the American Historical Association by Lynn Thorndike in a box of stuff from my old house today.  Thorndike was lamenting a proto-presentism in his talk, and when taken in the context of the rising Red Scare and soon ramping up of Cold into at least Lukewarm War in the 1960s, his points are worth considering in bulk.  Here's the key passage, and I found it interesting both when considering changes in how we communicate today and how we look at our past.

"Innovators and reformers too often have had single-track minds which were taken possession of and overwhelmed by one dominating idea.  A solitary reason for making a change may appeal to them so powerfully that it alone is sufficient to stir them to action, goad them into agitation, and impel them into propaganda.  Of arguments to the contrary they take no account.  How the situation which they wish to alter came about, they do not inquire, or, if they do, assign it to an unwholesome origin and ascribe to evil motives.  Nor are they interested in the many reasons, past and present, which this state of affairs has continued for so long, and possibly should continue for still longer.  For them, the very fact that it has endured for so long a time is in the nature of presumptive evidence that it has outlived its usefulness and its long persistence they regard not as a sign of inherent merit but as so much the more a lag from the march of modern progress. They do not pause to reflect that ancient Egyptian civilization may have lasted so long because it was not continually being reformed . . .  The iconoclasts who smashed statues, shattered stained glass windows and whitewashed over religious paintings, thought only of ridding the church of idolatry, and recked not of the irreparable loss to art, archaeology and history."

Ah yes, in other words, don't change it for change sake and consider the impact.  Thorndike goes into a long example of how there's a new problem in the world with juvenile delinquency and that the modern 20th century world essentially invented it through well meaning child labor law and other reforms.

"For the first time in history we are keeping in a state of tutelage persons who were physically, emotionally, and often intellectually adult."

Of his four illustrations of minors, the one regard Joan of Arc was best: "by the age of 19 [she] had defeated the finest military machine in Europe, crowned a King of France and herself suffered martyrdom. If today she were training as a teacher, she would be allowed out after 10 p.m. once a term, on written application and on promise to take another member of the college with her."

Does it mean that everything old is justfied?  Hardly.  The title of his piece was a take on Alexander Pope, saying "Whatever was, Was right" and meaning more as a caution to say those old folks, they weren't stupid.  You can't judge their decisions by today's standards (ie, presentism), accept that for them what they did was valid and take a little time to understand why.

Later, Thorndike makes it clear that change isn't always good. "Such innovations and reforms and changes, which were made from some one compelling reason, or from mere love of change, are of course likely to be undone for another compelling reason which has been overlooked before, or from the same mere love of change."

It's in these old position papers that I find great nuggets of current inspiration.  We talked at length at CoSIDA about the way that social media impacts coaches, athletes and institutions.  Consider Thorndike talking about the printing press, and substitute the networked world of fans as you read:

"Here was an innovation that was not merely a mechanical improvement but of stupendous mental and educational promise.  Instead of merely enabling man to move faster -- like the horse, the locomotive, the automobile and the airplane, it enable one to read faster, to think faster and it was for some time fondly believed, to publish faster."

He goes on for a page to talk about just because the cost dropped didn't mean that people actually took the time to publish, that what they created was worth publishing or that what you ended up with was what you were really looking for.  Sound familiar?

While I'm picking at the old essay to talk change, I have to close on the real theme -- the study of history -- in Thorndike's lecture.

"The more we study the past, the more we find that it was right, not wrong as previously supposed on the basis of insufficient evidence and knowledge.  The more we know concerning any past period, the better our opinion of it becomes.  Charges of ignorance against it are usually a sign of our ignorance about it.  Charges of bigotry and superstition against it may be due to our own prejudice and narrow-mindedness."

If you're interested in the entire article, Lynn Thorndike, Whatever Was, Was Right, American Historical Review, Vol 61, No. 2 (Jan 1956), p 265-283.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Never Waste a Crisis

That's become a meme, purportedly part of the Saul Alinsky rules for radicals. No better example than listening to a national radio news program on the day of the Aurora shooting.

The expert guest laid blame for the events of the day at the feet of social media, and the prospect of copycats due to the 24x7 nature of Twitter. He implied that the gunman may have been inspired or agitated to his acts through consumption of so much information.

At one point, the guest alluded to the 1980s when we didn't get news this fast, then the 1990s when we got cable news and things sped up, then today with its immediate news through social. I almost had to pull the car over.

Was this person really saying that social media had a cause in this? Was he really implying that because we have MORE information that was leading to violence like this -- or Norway, or Fort Hood? I can see the bumper sticker now: Guns don't kill people; Ideas kill people.

When later revealed that the assailant was either social media agnostic or a great deletion expert -- no traces of accounts anywhere (even MySpace was invoked in that news report) -- I am left gobsmacked with what the original commentator was really trying to say.

Was the point that we need to go back to the times where certain knowledge was held by the high priesthoods -- ranging from the literal ones in the church to the cultural and intellectual ones among the educated elites?

A nation ignorant of its history is easy to sway. Things have never been like this before. This is unprecedented. No, the sad reality is in the history of human endeavor there has always been -- and regretably shall always be -- inexplicable evil.

What may be said for the networked media is that we can learn about it faster and in greater detail than previous generations. Let me trot out my history lecture on presentism, and reformat it to the events in Colorado.

Does the name Andrew Kehoe ring a bell?

In 1927, Kehoe went on a vengful rampage in the small town of Bath, Mich. Killed 45 people -- 38 school kids -- and wounded another 58. You can read all the sordid details, but the similarities are important. Kehoe rigged several bombs in really evil genius ways to take out as many people as he could.

Kehoe didn't need assault weapons. Or costumes. Or the internet. Or social media. He used his considerable anger toward society, his intelligence and a commitment to cause rampant violence.

By the time I'd drifted back into listening to the radio, the next expert came along to talk about his work that showed that these kind of massive killings tended to happen in states that were more rural and lower affluence. The tone was in those ignorant back waters you get things like this happening. I had to turn off the radio. And write it out.

At this time, there are no news stories in the Googleplex that include the name "Andrew Kehoe". Anyone want to bet me that he won't become a part of the current narrative?

Penn State Punishment Likely Not Unprecedented

As we await the fate of Penn State from the NCAA tomorrow, here's what is forgotten in the "SMU is the only death penalty" meme.  We're talking football, not NCAA sports.

There are two cases of high profile misdeeds leading to the end of programs, but both in men's basketball and ironically, both from Louisiana.

An investigation at then Southwestern Louisiana began with the right-minded move by boosters to provide scholarship money to African-American basketball players.  The Louisiana legislature did not allow scholarships to blacks in the 1960s to its public universities, but the move brought the NCAA to town and they discovered far worse things happening -- systematic academic fraud that ranged from forging signatures on transcripts to admitting five players who lacked the GPAs to be at USL to general recruiting violations and extra financial benefits.  The Ragin Cajun men's basketball program was suspended for two years by the NCAA from fall 1973 until spring 1975.

In the late 1980s, a point shaving scandal at Tulane led to the discovery of a wide range of NCAA violations.  The combination led the president of the New Orleans private school to suspend the men's basketball program.

One has to suppose that, well, since that's basketball it's OK; football is too important for that kind of action and what happened to SMU was "too devastating" to allow again.


Consider that the "death penalty" was designed to address a cavalier attitude in the 80s and 90s that cheating was just part of the NCAA game if you wanted to win at the highest level and it was "worth the cost".  If you had violations while on probation, the institution had not learned its lesson -- thus the suspension of the program.

We find ourselves in the 21st century with a different kind of problem -- protecting the "brand" at all costs.  The cover up of NCAA violations is one thing. Sweeping federal and state law breaking under the carpet goes to the core function of a state agency.

Whatever the NCAA has in store, Mark Emmertt telegraphed on the Tavis Smiley Show last week that he and the organization were ready to create an unprecedented response to an unprecedented problem.  After all, the Big Ten was hinting at throwing out Penn State (remember, the 11th member who was not exactly well received by the academic elites in the old-school league) -- in the age of conference realignment and expansion it doesn't get much more drastic than that.

The talk of crippling the program is a bit much.  Recall the "just short of death penalty" move in 2002 and a five-year probation against Alabama football didn't exactly end the legendary program.  If I remember correctly, they have not one, but two, national titles since then.

What happened in State College, Pa., is different.  And the fate of the Nittany Lions lies not in the NCAA but in the public at large.  Think not?

How many times do the basketball powerhouse of City College of New York and New York University grace the headlines?

Because these national champions of the 1950s were the heart of a seven-school mob-based point shaving conspiracy that shook the very foundations of college sports.

With the NIT ruling the basketball world, that virtually none of the New York Seven realistically survived (only St. John's is major Division I hoops) tells us that Penn State's disappearance from the ranks of the football elite is neither far fetched nor historically unprecedented.

What may end Penn State football?  The combination of crushing penalties -- beyond what Alabama and others have endured -- and the public's memory.  Bama, USC, Miami -- all had loyal fans willing to outlast their times in the wilderness.

The shame of what transpired in Pennsylvania might be more than can be endured.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Take Your Moon Shot

ADDENDUM, 2:35 p.m. -- I wrote this late last night, and posted this morning before I read the news.  At the risk of some offense, I want to urge you even more so to think about -- what if that theater was in my college town.  What if I had students involved in that event?  Who saw that coming?  Please, please, please -- do your Moon Shot today.  You have every reason in the world now to think about your crisis plans.

A few weeks back, I urged you to take a moment to pull the crisis communications plan down off the shelf, dust it off and at least do a table top exercise.

You really meant to do that, but the media guide was on deadline and now well fall drills are just around the corner.

And you really want to bring the cabinet together, but there are some 10-month folks and vacations are here between the end of summer session two and fall registration.

Athletic or academic -- they both have their reasons why.  Let's call them what they are -- excuses.

Joseph Brennan prompts me to rattle your collective cages again with his post on Zehno about 12 Rules for Surviving on the Front Lines in a crisis.  Take a moment and read through.

I was a big fan of #10 -- as Joe talks about learning your FEMA terms -- but his #1 is about as good as it gets anytime.  He quotes Lori Doyle, Senior Vice President of University Communications at Drexel University:

A crisis has to be managed methodically, not hysterically

Now, do you really think you'll do well in a crisis having not taken some time to train?

When the AD says there's no need or time for this, ask him if he thinks it would be acceptable for the basketball coach to send a player to the free throw line with the conference championship on the line who had not been practicing free throws.  Joe has a big pull quote on the side of his blog that captures that a little less colorfully:

Have a policy and plan in place before disaster strikes.

So here's my modest proposal.  Since that Penn State-Arkansas-TCU level athletic event or Katrina-scale natural disaster or Virginia Tech campus incident is about as likely to happen on your campus as a man in the moon, take today, July 20, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 astronauts stepping on the moon, and do that drill.

Get your staff.  Find the emergency plan.  Take your one small step for your department to help avert a giant disaster.

If no one wants to join you in the war games, here are some links to how to define your crisis, learning to work with local emergency professionals, who will tell your bad news, crisis work in general, avoiding self-inflicted crisis and a great new book in the field.

If you want to learn about FEMA's Incident Command System, many of the courses are on-line for training.  Your must do's are the basic 100 level course, which now has its own higher education edition, and then basic public relations with FEMA's system.

Gene Kranz didn't put Neil and Buzz on the moon without procedures and checklists.

Go through yours today.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Specialized or Siloed?

A recent rash of job postings -- both athletic and academic -- reveal some counter trends.  In athletics, more and more institutions are creating positions for specialists.  Directors of Communication, Directors of Engagement, Directors of New Media, Social Media, Media Relations -- you name it but none of them seem to be over the entirety of the message.

No because there are Senior Associate Externals and other various formations of "the fundraising guy over marketing . . . oh yes, and sports information" that are in theory setting that agenda.

The days of "sport contacts" are fading, but the unitasker remains -- just the one person doing Facebook inside the marketing office (because that's "fan-sy"), and maybe then the one person assigned to do Twitter and blogs in the media office (because that's "news-y").  Oh yeah, that guy in the corner?  He's the YouTuber (because that's "tech-y").

This is not even to discuss The Silo: the Director of Football Communications/Relations/Media.  The wholly owned subsidiary of The Football Office, with narrowly defined responsibilities to that single sport area.

They report down different paths to the Senior, and more times than not, the messaging is muddied in the process. Or worse, things get bottled up inside those units.  Sometimes it makes the light of day at the right time.  Sometimes, well, you know the schools.

Meanwhile, across the campus, more and more positions are multitasking and team oriented.  They are focused on the overall strategies across modes of communication.  That world has its own set of Titles That Are Capitalized -- throw that AP Stylebook to the wind -- as well.

But the difference as you read through and more important as you talk to people involved in the hiring -- there seems to be more emphasis on strategic communication of the institution and organizing that into team groups.

Frankly, the university relations offices are starting to look a whole lot more like the old SID offices from back in the day -- when the marketing and the other functions were just an organic whole of the area charged with publicity for the entire department.  I've seen some interesting org charts from new hires in this realm that confirm -- more unified, group operations and less stratified and hierarchical.

For all the team-talk and silo-busting management blather from athletic directors, the academic side is doing more and more to create the kind of message unity.  The more advanced ones are daring to advocate some real old-school ideas -- bringing together the entire university under one umbrella.

There are positives to both approaches, but I lean toward the unified command of a communications director that is closer to the ground and able to manage the entire process.

Cause there's two things I know about silos.  On the farm, you don't vent them often, they just might explode.  And the other?  Well, back in the day, that's where we stored those nuclear warheads.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Engagement Success

Yeah it stung a bit when a consultant said, well, your main page at Northwestern State lacks an engaging tone.  What he really meant to say was you don't get a lot of comments -- which granted for a lot of the link-based media release stories, frankly, we don't.

In support of my own Facebook Five agenda and urging to have less story links and more live content, I made a stab at a little fun P.O.V. and make the best of a slow weekend by talking about the weather.  And by slow, in there's either a NSU event or tourism something Natchitoches, we literally had nothing going on for Saturday, June 14.

I'm walking downtown and whip out the iPhone for this one. It's a line as old as rainy seasons -- hey, that isn't a UFO in the sky, it's the sun.  But I tweaked it a bit into this:

For those here in Natchitoches, there is no need to be alarmed. We have confirmed with members of the College of Science, Technology and Business that the bright object in the sky today is called the Sun. Hope you can take advantage of our first rain-free (so far) day in well over a week.

About five minutes after I posted it, I homered (head slap-D'Oh!).  Why did I mess up a really nice pithy line by not putting up a picture of a sunny sky on campus?  Idiot; blown the visual.  I'd gotten great results from a simple shot of the wildflowers that sprung up in front of one of our icons the previous day.  Oh well, too late.

What happens next shows that sometimes, it really is right time, right message.  The update took off -- 61 likes and a couple of shares in a little over an hour -- and one person saying -- tongue in cheek -- that's not funny right now because it's really hot and I have to mow the yard.

Hearing that "you've not been engaging voice in my head", I waded in.  And over the course of the next two hours, we had some light banter -- adding that the College of Nursing and Allied Health approved of his move to get into the AC and beverages rather than staying in the sun.

Then, my (so far) caveat came true.  It did rain for what was our ninth straight day late, and of course, that provide some more fodder.

By the time it was said and done, this simple whimsy became the top post all-time on viewed and shared, plus we added 10-15 likes to the overall total.

I'm pointing this out not as much to brag about brilliance but to emphasize ANYONE can do this and be successful if you are trying to be yourself, engage your audience and provide them unique content.

The previous record Facebook update?  That was from the start of the week when we picked up a photo from one of our students as one of our Greek organizations picked up two national awards.  And during the week, our library scored high points -- and a ton of sharing -- by remembering that Saturday was Bastille Day, no small issue in Francophile Louisiana.

All three of those -- the pick up of the cell phone picture of a priceless moment, a pithy comment to start the day and a well placed share -- are what define your Facebook personna.

But I'm still mad -- how much further would the right picture have taken that Sun post . . . .

Here's graphic capture of the whole exchange (you can see the Bastille Day also):

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Doctor Heal Thyself

This is a weekend of high passion with the release of the Freeh report.  I listened to some talk radio and was appalled at a former SID defending Paterno with the "he's done so much for thousands" argument.  What?  Did he read the report?  Has he not felt the heat of the public and opinion classes?

Today, I'd taken a little recreational time inside a couple of interest groups on Facebook and found myself the frog in the boiling water.  Why no, I don't think that is right.  Why of course, that shouldn't have been that way.  Before I knew it, I'd made some of my own most preached errors.

What I said was not wrong, but without the visual cues of regular communication, in reflection, I'm sure it sounded harsh.  And when pounced upon, I at least took a moment to pause before the counter attack.

That's when I realized, I don't get an opinion on that issue.  Because of where I work and who the interest group was -- I pulled back.  I did the only thing I could do.  Apologize, delete and retreat.  I left the field to others to hash out.

The fact of the matter -- shouldn't have even gone down that road.  It made me reflect back on the talk show I heard earlier.

We take a lot of time talking about how we want honest opinion and exchanges, but we really don't.  We really want the losers to shut up and go away.  We really don't like a lot of back and forth.

And a sober reminder that as we often shake our heads at what clients and colleagues do in social, we must remind ourselves, but by the grace of God go I.

Friday, July 13, 2012

We Are All Penn State

The last 24 hours start the next phase for Penn State.  I read that in a lot of places.  That is false.

Whether we like this or not, to bastardize the rallying cry of the Happy Valley faithful, we are all Penn State.

There are some events that touch everyone within an industry -- this is one.

Louis Freeh summed it up into a single quote at his press conference:

“Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State.  The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect children whom Sandusky victimized.”

The underscore becoming a banner deck headline on the front page of the Philly Inquirer today.

I've seen some of the comments of the defendants -- lawyers for the soon-to-be former athletic director and retired senior VP -- that the Freeh Report did not "tell the whole story."


History is written by the victors.  In this case, it is recorded by the participants.  What part of the "whole story" didn't get documented in email or memoranda? The part that was spoken back and forth so there would not be a record in the future?  That's convenient -- and unfortunate.

Because if there is exculpatory material to the chain of command's decision making, bring it out.

I suspect there isn't.  It would already be in the report.

See, that's the thing about 17 1/2 minute gaps in the tape -- or the "whole story" not being recorded -- it looks like what it is.

A cover-up.

Administrative history is written by the supervisors.  A record which justifies the actions taken is what we create.  Not just today -- I've read my share of "memorandum of conversation" letters composed by high functionaries of the FDR administration during the 1930s and 1940s as they sought to put down for the record their version of what transpired.

This is human nature, not a byproduct of email trails and social media postings.

What should be the issue for all of us in higher education -- athletic or academic -- was the janitor's testimony to Freeh's investigators.  He didn't report what he was told because he feared for his job and his safety.

Let's not kid ourselves.  That's not just a "Penn State" thing.

One big reason why the disinhibited behavior is so popular in social media?  The anonymous bomb thrower is also the anonymous whistle blower.  Too many have seen what happens to the janitor in any industry.  So we have the hoggrads of the world trying to get the word out.  They too have agendas which makes the monitoring of and response to social -- even the crazy conspiracy theories or the malcontent agitators -- so important.

This is why we are all Penn State today.  Take a moment for serious reflection.  What happens at your institution if similar events transpire?  Before tut-tutting the lack of Clery Act work by Penn State (or Montana -- just to make sure everyone understands PSU isn't a one-off isolated problem), what is your institutional procedure for compliance?

Call a meeting.  Have yourself a little table top exercise.  Maybe even, dare I suggest it, an honest conversation about what would we do.

Good luck.  You'll need it.  Wear a cup when you suggest it.

Monday, July 09, 2012

When To Tweet

In the continuing quest for the perfect distribution time and frequency, here's another entry.  This infographic does bring up a couple of interesting changes -- the never before 8 a.m. being the most notable.  Maybe its just my world, but seems like the "morning drive time" of 7-8 a.m. is pretty productive, but more so on Facebook than Twitter.  I have always had an anecdotal feel that people are starting to plan their day and its a good moment to strike.  This study says otherwise.  Food for thoought.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Might as Well Tax the Air

From the land that brought us the Stamp Act and the organization who thinks they can control the world, here's a snippet of the social media rules for anyone at the London Olympics. The passage is from the NYT story on how the IOC has faced the tidal wave of social tools. Athletes and spectators face restrictions, too. Neither will be permitted to post video footage of sporting events to online forums. Participants are allowed to post on blogs or Twitter, but the postings must be in a “first-person, diary-type format and should not be in the role of a journalist,” the guidelines state. “They must not report on competition or comment on the activities of other participants or accredited persons, or disclose any information which is confidential or private in relation to any other person or organization,” the rules say. Reminds me of the prophetic words of Dan Gillmor during my panel at CoSIDA in 2004 at San Diego - what would the IOC do when HD cameras were in the stands. Strikes me as a pair of dinosaurs trying to desperately aid each other - the IOC to keep any news from escaping the rights holders and then the absurd desire to protect "accredited persons" (read: the credentialed legacy media, the long-time hand maiden of the IOC). Um, the people formerly known as the audience have opinions. And observations. And the IOC might want to get them on their side.

Contact Info

Colleague made a good point about last week's post regarding creating table top drills for athletic departments -- hey, you don't have your contact information out there for people to hire you as a consultant.

Right before I added that to the template I stopped and remembered the semi-paranoiac words of another colleague, this one in IT security.  Don't put your whole email addresses or phone numbers out there unless you really want to get a whole extra layer of spam tossed upon you.

What to do -- commerce versus perceived privacy?

Look, anyone reading this knows where to find me -- email through this blog, on Facebook (/WABAC), through Twitter (DM @Doctor_BS), in the directory at Northwestern State.

And yes, I'd be more than happy to consult on your projects, review your outlines and procedures, drop in for training on social and traditional media and create and execute table-top exercises.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

This Thing is Huge I Tell You, Huge

From the WOMMA Word, another eye-opening infographic about the fire hose of data spraying at us every day.  I tag this along with a column I'd re-read yesterday from the PRSA Tactics about "Practicing the art of 'we'" written by Robbin Phillips and Amy Taylor.

This fantastic infographic from Domo about Data Never Sleeps supports Phillips and Taylor's theory that just because the latest "if Facebook were a country" meme pegs the social service as more important than the entire United States.

Just because there are 100,000 tweets going out every minute doesn't mean that any of them are relevant to you.  Or to your target groups.

We all used the "shock" numbers for the last couple of years to bludgeon over the head the Luddites among us and among management who believed all this networked content was a waste of time.

Now, it's starting to look like the waste of time crowd was right, but for the wrong reason.

The digirati continue to struggle to find the "big number" that will reopen the magic budgets of clients everywhere.  Where is that Gold Standard of the ABC, Arbitron or Nielson?  That exchange rate that we can all join hands in the self delusion that that many people are really consuming our message.

When folks try to show how incredibly significant social platforms are through either these raw data per minute measures or the Facebook country analogy they are just repeating the previous model.  Buy this because the impressions per million are huge.

Engagement.  There's the metric.  Regrettably, we lack a good measure.

Friday, July 06, 2012

P.O.V. as the New Brand

Very compelling stuff in this screed by Troy Young.  When unleashed to do this, brands do succeed.  When they pull back the reigns, get jealous of the P.O.V. created or get nervous that the P.O.V. is too edgy, they fail.  Young captures this in about 500 words.

Young hits all the high points -- the fallacy of measurement ("the shame of our industry"), the supremacy of content:

The world is full of crappy content. At the heart of great content is POV. It’s what you believe. It’s opinion. It’s passion. It’s the special thing that connects people and communities. Remember, social is inherently personal.

If you are serious about your social, take five minutes to read this -- and then come back in an hour and read it again.

Young has the best 100 characters I've seen in weeks about the relationship between the medium (social) and the message (content):

Social is just media. Media needs to be fed. It’s hungrier now than ever.

Powerful gospel.

The Absense of Records is a Record

Today's post is brought to you by the letter P -- as in former football coaches who's last name starts with.

Most of us had a quiet Fourth, but all to festive at Arkansas, where the new coach's past finances became national news on July 4, and at Penn State where The Chronicle and others continue to peel back the records.

Where P & P come together again is in the area of digital communication.  Earlier in the week, lawyers for the late Joe Paterno contended that he didn't use email.

Well, today, oops about that.  The Chronicle contends that Joe Pa did send emails to the Penn State president related to the Sandusky matter.

It reminds me of Bobby Petrino's text to his video coordinator asking can they see my texts.

The answer to both remains the same advice for students, staff and all:  digital assets once posted are easily copied and easily distributed.

Today the standard for open records and state record keeping almost requires use of electronic mail.  If no emails surfaced at PSU, one would begin to wonder if they'd been deleted.

Could someone else -- an administrative assistant -- used the coach's account to send under his name?  Certainly.  I know many past and current coaches who don't check their own accounts and give that responsibility to a secretary or other staff member.  Another Big 10 situation echos that with a former assistant to Illinois president settling a dispute over anonymous emails.  The lawyers could maintain their position on Paterno not using email to communicate, but it's going to ring hollow.  Just because the secretary typed the memo on the IBM Selectric or an iPad in email, either way the administrator that signed it is responsible.