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The 15-Seconds Blog

  • Penn Tries to Erase Bad News

    Declaring a matter “closed” doesn’t make it so.  The University of Pennsylvania may learn that lesson the hard way.

    On Thursday the Vice Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Penn resigned.  Turns out Doug E. Lynch didn’t have the PhD he claimed to have from Columbia University.  According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, a University spokeswoman said on Wednesday that Lynch was “unaware he didn’t have the degree.” Yeah, it is SO hard to keep track of those things.

    Ex-Dr. Lynch

    The University  said they found out about the possible non-doctorate back in March and imposed “sanctions.”  But when the media started calling six weeks later  and began putting Penn through the third degree, the University suddenly put Lynch on administrative leave in order to “investigate the matter further.” Apparently they are quick studies because the next day Lynch resigned.

    According to ABC News, the graduate school spokeswoman, the University  president and the Dean of the graduate school all declined to comment and referred reporters to the school’s media relations department which issued a statement saying “the university now considers this matter closed.”

     Nice college try, guys, but it doesn’t work that way.  If an organization can just fire someone and declare a matter closed — the Secret Service would have tried that a couple weeks ago.  Penn needs to climb down from their Ivy tower and explain how an institution entrusted with granting post-graduate degrees can be led by someone without them.



  • Private Conversations: Near Extinction

    TMZ says Mel Gibson may sue someone for secretly taping him ranting in his own home in last December and releasing the audio.

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     Gibson’s words taped in Costa Rica don’t paint a pretty picture of the actor’s mental stability.  But don’t you have the right to go a little crazy (ok, a lot crazy) in the privacy of your own home without the results ending up in the media?  Don’t count on it.

    And if you are out in public all bets are off.  We teach our clients to never, ever say anything that they would not want to see published or broadcast the next day or next year.

    We caution that bloggers in particular are always looking for new material. (Hey, WE are too – ethically, of course.)

    One of our clients was at a trade show recently and said a blogger would slide into groups having insider conversations with a digital recorded hidden behind his pocket square.  The blogger was discovered in the men’s room listening to what he had just secretly recorded.  Sure enough, the next day his blog reported (without saying where the information came from) that one prominent executive was known to be highly critical of his competitors.

  • Good Guys Get Good Coverage

    It is not rocket science.  Despite claims of impartiality — reporters play favorites.  They give better coverage to people they like.  This simple fact makes it even harder to understand who so many prominent public figures act like jerks.

    Count Peyton Manning among those who get it.  The quarterback spent part of his Thursday morning calling newspaper reporters in Indianapolis, where he played for 14 years, to say “thanks” and “goodbye.”  It was a simple gesture — and one which reportedly stunned those on the receiving end. One reporter wrote that it was the first time a member of the Colts had ever taken the time to say goodbye after leaving the team.

    In a sport where common courtesy is an uncommon value, Manning’s classy move really stands out.  Whether he did it simply because he was brought up well — or because he recognizes the value of good media relations for his sport — the gesture will pay off in measures far beyond the time he took to dial some ink-stained wretches.

    Compare Manning’s graciousness (and his almost universal favorable coverage) to the actions of University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong who we wrote about yesterdayStrong held a press conference today where he essentially confirmed that he had banned local TV crews from covering his team because he was unhappy that they had failed to show up in sufficient numbers for a spring practice session. 

    Strong said it was “nothing personal” and he recognized the media and the teams coaching staff “needed each other” to take his team to the next level. It may not have been personal for Strong — but we are betting it now is for the media.  When Charlie leaves Louisville — it is likely he won’t be smart enough to make any farewell phone calls and he is not likely to receive many either. More immediately, his peevish behavior will negatively effect his coverage while still in town.