What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas– or not

There’s a whole different world to citizen journalism besides “traditional news”—what about the segment that comes towards the end? My favorite: Sports! Now is the perfect time to talk about how citizen journalism plays a gigantic role in the spreading of sports news that might not otherwise make it. Riley Cooper— you remember, the wide receiver for the Eagles who was caught on video shouting a racial slur toward an African-American bodyguard at a Kenny Chesney concert for not letting him backstage? Ordinarily, this may not have ever even been a big deal, because who would have even noticed? But thanks to cell phone video, it was caught on tape by a woman hanging out with Cooper at the concert, and then shopped around to different websites (albeit, for money). Here’s a really in-depth account from Deadspin about how the video even got released. Pretty interesting stuff!

A series of tweets posted to Riley Cooper's account, following his PR nightmare.

A series of tweets posted to Riley Cooper’s account, following his PR nightmare.

Or consider ever-popular target of discussion, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. He first broke his arm November 18, and had surgery. He returned to play a little over a month later, on December 30, in the Pats playoff game against the Houston Texans. He broke his arm again in this game in a different spot, again requiring surgery. This time, however, things got interesting. In February, in Las Vegas, while attending a Superbowl party, freshly removed from surgery—a video magically emerged of Gronkowski dancing shirtless and performing a wrestling move (with his surgically repaired arm still in a cast/sling). Of course, this caught fire almost immediately. But why?

People have access to photos and videos literally at their fingertips at any given time. Did Gronkowski and Cooper realize these videos (that they probably didn’t even know were being taped) were going to be released? …Likely not. They’re publically recognizable figures, though, so it’s all the more fascinating for people who are out, and in the same club or at the same concert, as these guys to take photos and videos. Whether it’s ethical or not for these videos to be shopped around to websites and television stations is an entirely different debate, but these two cases are prime examples of how quickly news can spread. These videos almost immediately made their way on to television stations across the country, including CNN, ESPN, and several other nationally known and smaller market stations.

For example—Gronkowski has been in the news ever since then, and there’s now discussions going on about his absence creating tension on the team. Riley Cooper, on the other hand, took a leave of absence from the Eagles to get some counseling after his racial slur gone viral video. Sports, my friends… is an entirely different world. Without user-generated content, these issues would have never been “issues” to begin with, but with both of these instances, I know we all remember ESPN talking about it for days… and days… and days. 

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