As thousands of students crowded the streets around the Penn State campus on Wednesday night, protesting the University’s decision to fire beloved football coach Joe Paterno, the mob quickly chose a common enemy: the media.
Nearly 100 members of the media were at the Penn Stater Conference Hotel covering the board of trustees’ announcement when word quickly spread of a student demonstration developing nearby.
Following the press conference, local reporters as well as news crews in from Pittsburgh and elsewhere rushed to downtown State College, where a growing mob of students had gathered. And things quickly turned ugly.
“At first, the students were just milling about peacefully, but, as time went on, the crowd grew more unruly and more destructive,” WPXI‘s Courtney Brennan told TVSpy today via email. “I don’t know why, but the crowd’s anger over the firing of Paterno…quickly turned into hatred of the media.”
A group of demonstrators teamed up to tip over a WTAJ news van, escalating the protest to a full-blown riot and sending journalists running for safety.
After the WTAJ van was tipped, protestors targeted other satellite trucks parked in the area and began throwing things at nearby reporters and photographers.
“Students kept shouting threats at us and kept saying they were going to tip our satellite truck next,” Brennan recalls. “My photographer, Mike Drewecki, was pelted with bottles, rocks, mud and other objects.”
“INSANE,” WJAC reporter Brittany Boyer tweeted last night, describing the scene in downtown State College. “Students are blaming media for Joe Pa’s firing. We were chased downtown and had to drive wrong way on 1way street. THAT bad.”
“This is not ‘news exaggeration,’” WTAE sports anchor John Meyer tweeted last night while covering the student unrest. “We witnessed a riot tonight on College Ave.”
Although a handful of stations had their equipment damaged in the riot, there were no major injuries to report.
“Going to Penn State and seeing riots in the past, I thought I was prepared,” Boyer told TVSpy this afternoon via email, following a 24-hour shift. “But I could not believe all the blame and focus on the media. There were multiple times I was concerned about our safety. I kept telling our other reporter it felt like we were reporting in another country. You never expect to be concerned about your safety and students wanting to harm you or your car so it was something I never experienced before.”
Brennan summed up how the media navigated the hostile situation when she tweeted to a colleague early Thursday morning, “It’s in our blood, babe…we can handle ourselves in this kind of stuff.”
|there is nothing to smile about.|
In the not so distant future all of those people are going to look back and see that they were wrong. I'm not much of a football fan but this is way beyond football and any accomplishments Joe Paterno has achieved over his decades long career as coach of the Nittany Lions. No matter you figure it, the bottom line is he and those under and above him at that college failed to do the human thing in not involving the police immediately when allegations of child molestation was discovered in their midst. This issue is pretty black and white either you're on the side of the victims or not. Any concerns about how Paterno should end his career or who's coaching what should be left out of the equation. Paterno failed in doing his duty as a human being period. All of those involved failed. There shouldn't even be a debate about this.
There are some students who feel that Paterno being fired over the phone wasn't handled professionally. Fuck that! Paterno didn't handle reporting a child molestation correctly (hint 1: YOU CALL THE FUCKING POLICE FIRST!) if anything all Paterno most likely did when he was told about the incident was make a phone call. If I had my way, he wouldn't have gotten that much. I would have thrown a brick covered in shit through his living room window with a note attached: GET THE FUCK OUT YOU COWARD! Sincerely, School Administration.
The riot that broke out on Penn State's campus shows that there is an unhealthy and realistic attachment to the football program and its head staff, particularly Paterno. Its fucking football people, no one is curing cancer or ending hunger. There was and is nothing that man achieved in his life that's more important than safeguarding children's well being and lives and he among others failed to do just that. The Penn State Rioters need to grow the hell up and get a clue about whats really important in life.
Here's a hint: it's not football!