Introduction: Here is a quick summary of the fiasco. In March of last year, Central Michigan University hired Gary Peters for their distinguished Griffin Chair. This was a controversial hire because Peters had already set up an exploratory committee to position himself to run for Congress in a district hundreds of miles from campus. Dennis Lennox, a junior at CMU, began tracking the case and eventually was able to orchestrate a media campaign that had him circling the U.S. discussing the issue. In October, in the aftermath of controversial confrontation between Lennox and Dean of Students Pamela Gates, the administration became quite heavy handed toward Lennox. The brought him up on several different charges. The scheduled and cancelled three subsequent disciplinary hearings, and just Wednesday they not only cancelled the latest hearing but announced that the next one would be held in private and Lennox wouldn't even attend.
In my last piece, I referred to this confrontation as a chess match, and I said that Lennox' next move would have to be to stir up as media attention to this case as possible and create critical mass. Now, let's assess how he is doing so far. His story has a fairly warm reception on the blogosphere. Right Michigan and Outside Lansing have lead a slew of smaller blogs in bringing light to the story. While this helps Lennox, blogging heavyweight Red State has made no special mention of the most recent events. Even my own story, which I cross posted, received little attention. While Red State isn't crucial in creating a media firestorm, it is crucial if that firestorm is being lead by the blogosphere.
This appears to be Lennox other problem. Yesterday, a regional Saginaw news station did this story on the fiasco. This is a regional station and this story was nearly two minutes and it ran in the middle of the broadcast. Furthermore, it was downloaded on Youtube.com giving it even more reach. You Tube offers Lennox an opportunity to move old media items and spread it through the new media. Unfortunately for Lennox, the video has only been downloaded just less than five hundred times on You Tube. Lennox must manage a sophisticated media network and be able to finesse media from one realm to another. You tube offers him just such an opportunity however unless coverage picks up there it will be largely a failure.
The story was only picked up by one print outlet, a local Saginaw paper. Lennox job is made even more difficult because CMU is going on spring break next week. This means that he won't be able to count on any coverage from his own student newspaper. It is much easier for Lennox to create critical mass on his own campus then it is nationwide. In fact, many have speculated that the hearings were held now so that this coincidence would occur. Lennox told me that he expected several other regional newspapers to run a story however so far I have only found one.
Lennox job is simple but not easy. What he needs to do is turn a one day local story into a firestorm on the national level. In order for him to accomplish this, each media coverage must lead to more coverage until the momentum drives the story into the consciousness. Unfortunately for Lennox, this has simply not happened yet, and time is running out.
Lennox told me that he needed to maintain the media buzz into today so that it continues to be reported over the weekend. Unfortunately for Lennox, the only ones talking about his story today are bloggers. Bloggers on their own will likely not drive this or any story very far. They certainly aren't going to do it with the main blogging site being largely quiet.
Lennox is now in the bottom of the ninth so to speak and he is down a bunch of runs. In order for Lennox to accomplish his goal, he is going to need a furious combination of radio, print and television to suddenly start to cover this story and force it on a national level, and at the moment, I don't see how that will happen.
If Lennox fails and this story dies down, I predict that the administration will meet in private and either expel him or sanction him enough to limit his own options in continuing to advance the story. That is quite a lot to deal with for a college Junior.
Please check out my new books, "Bullied to Death: Chris Mackney's Kafkaesque Divorce and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and the World's Last Custody Trial"