Perception vs. Reality

Perception vs. Reality: Hello out there. I know there are a lot of people from around the blogosphere visiting this blog today who don’t typically come this way because I was rather quick to point out how ridiculous it was for Nashville police to run a year-long sting on a local alt.weekly newspaper, the Nashville Scene. As someone who has spent a fairly decent chunk of his life involved one way or another, in how stories are shaped and perceived by “the public” I would like for one of you new visitors to pass this along to those who have the power to throw in the towel before they find themselves getting humiliated ala Steve McNair DUI case getting thrown out.

I don’t care what the facts are. I don’t care what the cause is. I don’t care what the wonderful intentions were. I don’t care what the legal issues are or who is guilty or innocent. I don’t care who the source of the mysterious “citizen complaints” are.

Here is the story that is going to be spread throughout the land. This is the story that is, whether or not it is true, what conspiracy-loving people everywhere will perceive is the real story. Here is how I think the story is now framed and what the Metro Police or DA’s office have no chance to “unframe” unless they immediately display that Nels Noseworthy was doing something way more sinister than that which has been reported:

Again, this may not be the real story, but this is the perceived reality.

The “perception”: Nashville has a new police chief who is upset that the Scene has publicized the DUI arrests of his son and therefore has, in J. Edgar Hooveresque fashion, run a year-long sting on the newspaper. And then, the police department chooses the exact day the Scene runs another embarassing jab at the Police Chief’s son — despite having an indictment since October — to bust an ad salesman from the paper, complete with handcuffs and perp walk. Pay-back time, plain and simple.

I’m sure there’s probaly another version that may even be closer to the truth, but here is my professional public relations advice to the powers that be in the city that I love: Give up. Do it quickly. No PR firm or Metro Police spokesman is going to spin you out of this one.

Throw in the towel. Get out while you can before embarassing the Nashsville police department in front of a global audience. Don’t try to argue law and “citizens complaints” and whatever else…or you’ll spiral down ever deeper into the PR hell this is going to become for you.

No matter what you do, you will only raise the credibility of those who will claim this is a bizarre use of Police and tax payer resources and is a display of remarkable hubris on the part of a police chief who seems, at least to me, to be doing an otherwise decent job.