Bristol Palin at ASU: Rumors of Her Attending Cronkite School (the School's Potential Demise) Greatly Exaggerated, Dean Says

Categories: Media, Schmedia
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Did you hear Bristol Palin, daughter of one-time vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, is moving to the Grand Canyon State to attend the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University? Chris Callahan, the dean of the Cronkite School, sure did, and he says it aint happenin' -- as far as he knows, anyway.

Callahan's using the rumor -- debunked by Arizona Republic reporter John Faherty -- as a lesson for the soon-to-be (assuming there are any jobs left) journalistos currently attending the Cronkite School.

In case you missed it, over the weekend, TMZ speculated that Palin bought a house in Maricopa in order to attend the Cronkite School. The Washington Post picked up on the bogus rumor -- as did the Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and hundreds of other news sites out there on the interwebs. None of the aforementioned publications bothered to call the university to ask whether it was true, which, Callahan says, it's not.

Note: New Times didn't take the bait -- in part because Bristol Palin's about as interesting as watching paint dry. Callahan's message to students, however, is a bit more valuable than a rumor about an abstinence (ahem) expert/ reality TV star.

In an email to students and faculty, Callahan says Palin is not enrolled in -- nor has she applied to -- ASU.

The gist of the rest of Callahan's message to students: pick up the damn phone.

See part of Callahan's email below:

How this report started - and how it was fueled by the established news media - is instructive for our students.

The "news" started with a 171-word story posted by TMZ.com, the celebrity gossip website. Under the headline "Bristol's College Decision - Signs Point to Devils," TMZ said that "Bristol Palin is telling friends she may enroll at an Arizona college."

That's it in terms of "reporting," but the writer went on to speculate. He/she wrote that while there was no "official word," that there were "a few major clues" where she might attend. It went on to note that Ms. Palin had purchased a home "just miles from the Arizona State University school of broadcasting."

While we know there is no school of broadcasting at ASU, the writer meant the Cronkite School. And why might Ms. Palin be interested in Cronkite? Because, the writer notes, "Bristol has an interest in public speaking." That's quite a leap of logic, but not as large as the geographic leap.

It is true that Ms. Palin's new home in the town of Maricopa is "just miles" from Cronkite, in the same way that it also is "just miles" from USC, Northwestern and Columbia. In fact her new home is 36 miles from the downtown campus - a 45-minute drive without traffic down the I-10 - in Pinal County.

With the TMZ report, predictably, other gossip sites, Tweeters and bloggers picked up the story. But also within hours major news outlets began going with the Bristol-to-ASU story. USA Today, picking up the "just miles from ASU" part of the TMZ story, said "TMZ reports she may be thinking of enrolling there." The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal ran the story yesterday.

Callahan notes that the only news outlet that actually contacted the school was the Arizona Republic, which, in turn, was the only publication to get the story right. He also directed students to a story he wrote nine years ago published in the American Journalism Review titled Anatomy of an Urban Legend about how "rumors take on a life of their own in cyber-space." Check it out here.  

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3 comments
Richard Grayson
Richard Grayson

The Pinal County Greens welcome Bristol to our booming county and urge her to register to vote as a member of the Arizona Green Party and join the Pinal County Greens in its importan work. "Palin" is an anagram for "Pinal" although not a palindrome.http://tinyurl.com/2ue95ul

Chad Snow
Chad Snow

Great to see that USA Today, the NYT, and the Post are all using TMZ as a credible source for their stories. Hard to think the newspaper industry is dying....

Bill Stoller and Gerri Cocozza
Bill Stoller and Gerri Cocozza

Bristol Palin will not be in Arizona very long, considering that her new home address has already been sent around the World 100,000 times and her mother Sarah is under criminal investigation - state and federal. The Equity Court Services of Arizona release below supplements Mr. King's information:

To The World Press, These are opinions based on known facts. We don't think STEPHEN LEMONS (stephen.lemons@newtimes.com) of PHOENIX NEW TIMES (www.PhoenixNewTimes.com) can resist this one. Neither can JULIAN ASSANGE's and http://WikiLeaks.ch 's lawyer JENNIFER ROBINSON, who wants to charge THE MOOSEBRAIN PALIN with making death threats against her client. Here's JENNIFER slam-dunking PALIN in a Democracy Now! interview at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... . GET HER JEN! BRISTOL PALIN, the Alaska redneck daughter of "The Wasilla Wackjob" SARAH PALIN, has made out like a bandit in her purchase of a foreclosed home in MARICOPA, ARIZONA.Watch out JOE ARPAIO, because an astute blogger suggests that BRISTOL might even run for political office. Please see http://us.mc463.mail.yahoo.com... Having a moron like BRISTOL in Sand Land means that "The Wasilla Wackjob" SARAH and "LumberJack Todd" are sure to follow. Undoubtedly these racist ice rednecks are attracted to the Arizona wannabe Nazis JOE ARPAIO and RUSSELL PEARCE. Maybe the PALINS will even be "baptized" by MORMON GRAND DRAGON RUSSELL PEARCE, who needs their support as he gets raked over the coals regularly these days by STEPHEN LEMONS. We'll keep you posted. Staff and Associates, for The Class West, The Cass East, and The Class Global

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