Owen is a recent graduate of Duke University who has gained notoriety for her mock academic thesis entitled “An education beyond the classroom: excelling in the realm of horizontal academics.”
The 42-page PowerPoint document details her sexual exploits with 13 Duke athletes. It includes names, pictures, detailed descriptions of her sexual encounters and a rating for each man’s physique and performance.
Owen shared her “honors thesis” with three “close friends.” You know the rest: It went viral. And Owen has gone into hiding.
For years, I’ve told media training clients don’t say anything to or within earshot of a reporter that you don’t want to see in print or hear on the air. I need to update that. Don’t say anything on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else on the Internet that you’re not willing to share with the media, prospective employers and the rest of the world.
You can blame Owen’s mistake on youthful indiscretion and naivete, I suppose. Not so with Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise, who was suspended for a month after putting an inaccurate item on his Post Twitter account.
Wise posted a Tweet saying Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would get a five-game suspension instead of six games as widely reported in the media. Wise claims he posted the misinformation as a joke to show that inaccurate information spreads quickly on the Internet without much fact-checking.
But his bosses at the Post apparently did check — and weren’t amused.
As long as there are people with mouths to speak and fingers to type, there will be gaffes that lead to unintended negative attention for saying stupid things that become public.
So, this is still good advice: If you don’t want to see it in print, hear it on the air — or have it appear all over the Internet — don’t say it.
That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?