3 media lessons for business from CBS’ handling of Lara Logan assault

CBS News had a potentially huge and troubling story about one of its own on its hands this week, something the media often fails to properly handle. But in the case of terrible assault on Lara Logan in Egypt Feb. 11, the TV network showed it understands its medium.

Rather than waiting for rumors about the brutal sexual assault on Logan, one of its foreign correspondents, to leak to print or TV tabloids, the network issued a brief, but clear statement on the incident. Here’s that statement.

CBS News’ Lara Logan Assaulted During Egypt Protests

CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Separated From Her Crew And Brutally Assaulted on Day Mubarak Stepped Down

(CBSNews)  On Friday, Feb. 11, the day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan was covering the jubilation in Tahrir Square for a “60 Minutes” story when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy.

In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers. She reconnected with the CBS team, returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning. She is currently in the hospital recovering.

There will be no further comment from CBS News and correspondent Logan and her family respectfully request privacy at this time.

Despite its brevity, CBS’ statement is remarkably complete, offering an excellent example for any business owner who is sitting on a possible bad news story.

Here are the important takeaways:

  1. Avoiding the media is impossible. The news won’t just disappear. So rather than hoping and praying the news won’t be found, it’s better just to make a simple statement as soon as possible.
  2. The press release should explain only necessary details, no speculation. Gather the facts and report them in clear, declarative sentences. The CBS statement shuts the door on the need for additional inquiry and speculation about what happened. (Yes, the Internet is abuzz with discussions about why, but those discussions are entirely out of the control of CBS or anyone else.)
  3. The statement should indicate that it is the final statement on the matter. The CBS statement respectfully makes it clear that Logan, her family and the network will not be offering any additional details.

Too often business owners wish away bad news with disastrous results. By taking the offense, CBS avoided being put on the defensive and it controlled the story about Logan’s assault.

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