Something caught my eye this morning; the news section on my Google homepage featured a headline “thousands slam CNN for rape case report.”
Pretty attention grabbing, so I had a look.
The rape of a teenage girl by two high school football stars at a party occurred in the town of Steubenville, and received a lot of attention nationally and worldwide.
So when CNN ran a report on the case that painted the two guilty boys in an “innocent,” sympathetic light, the general public was very unimpressed.
Social media went crazy and e-mails bombarded CNN demanding apologies for this controversial coverage that hardly mentioned the girl who was raped.
So I did my usual routine when I see controversies such as this. Wanting to hear what CNN had to say.
First to their website… nothing.
Okay, strange, it must be hidden on the web somewhere?
So I did a Google search along the lines of “CNN responds” … still nothing but news from around the world on CNN’s “disgraceful report.”
Social media? Surely? … Nup.
Finally, I came to the realisation that CNN had not responded at all. So here I am reading hundreds of stories about how horrible they are, public uproar etc… and not a single statement or explanation by CNN.
Why does this always happen?
One of the key things I’ve learned about crises is that no response is rarely the best option. It implies admission of guilt.
Especially in this case, if not an apology, even a simple explanation that it was not intended to come across as it did would suffice.
But all the public searching for answers have heard nothing but negativity towards the company and it will be hard to change this feeling towards them – especially seeing as they have missed the 24 hour gap in which they needed to respond.
Even if they do respond in the next couple of days – it will be too late. This negative stigma will be attached to CNN in the minds of many people for a long time to come.
I am very interested to get out into the world of PR myself and experience the logic behind these situations.
Did they think it would just blow over? Was there trouble in the legal department? Or were they sure a statement would just inflame the situation?
It looks so incredibly bad from the public’s perspective that I simply can’t imagine what would justify it.
But for now, from this perspective… Crisis: 1 – CNN: 0.