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The Jim Tressel scoop: Who is lying?


We concluded that the relentless and unseemly boasting by WTVN has merit while the relentless and unseemly boasting by Channel 10 and the Fan does not.

Wow, Columbus sure is a great place to be a sports fan.

After all, not one, not two but three broadcast outlets were first to break the news that Jim Tressel had been hired as Ohio State's football coach. At least that's what you're forced to conclude if you listen to the on-air chest thumping by 610-WTVN and two Dispatch Media Group stations, Channel 10 and 1460-AM (the Fan).

Of course, that can't be. If the Highlander movie series taught us anything—and believe us, it taught us plenty—it's this: "In the end, there can be only one."

After a thorough investigation—including plenty of channel surfing last Wednesday—Media Morsels has concluded that the relentless and unseemly boasting by WTVN has merit while the relentless and unseemly boasting by Channel 10 and the Fan does not.

WTVN Sports Director George Lehner said he went on the air with the story at 5:10 p.m.

"I feel pretty confident that we were first," said Lehner, who credited his phone contacts and being "in the right place at the right time" for the scoop.

Meanwhile, Channel 10 has been running an ad claiming it was the "first station" with the news. But when we called Channel 10 Sports Director Paul Spohn, he said that claim only covers TV stations—a distinction the promos don't make.

Spohn said the station got a call from a source he'd "bet his life on" at about 5:18 and had the story on-air three minutes later. As for 610, Spohn said, "Quite frankly, we don't listen to the radio."

"TV-wise, we beat Channel 4 by 18 minutes, Channel 6 by 40 minutes."

So, what about the Fan, which presumably recognizes the existence of other radio stations? Is 1460 just plain lying?

Jeff Austin, 1460's new program director, said Monday he was under the impression that his station was first with both the news of John Cooper's firing and Tressel's hiring.

"As best as we could tell, we beat them on both stories, and they claimed credit for getting it first," Austin said.

He said he wasn't blaming 610 for taking credit, however. The strategy of claiming someone else's scoop for your own is just "smart" radio, he said.

In the case of the Tressel hiring, though, it appears the Fan was the one engaging in "smart" radio.

Austin said the Fan received the tip on the story from its corporate brethren at Channel 10 and had the story on-air at about 5:22 p.m.

When informed that Lehner broke the news at 5:10, Austin conceded defeat.

"That determines that WTVN did go on the air with it (first)," Austin said. "If that's the case, more power to them."

Lehner said most people in the Columbus media know he was first.

"I've had people in the news department and the sports department at every television station call me or e-mail me to congratulate me," Lehner said. "And I've had people from 1460 send congratulations to me."


When he's not engaged in creative parking exercises at grocery stores, the world's largest ex-mayor, Greg Lashutka, spends his time working at Nationwide Insurance as senior vice president for corporate relations.

We haven't the slightest notion how corporations have been relating under Greg's leadership. But we may have learned something far more important: his new nickname.

Last week, Lashutka joined forces with Gov. Bob Taft at a press conference to encourage blood donations to the Red Cross. Lashutka was present to speak on behalf of Nationwide Insurance, whose employees donate the most gallons per person or something.

After the press conference, a group of Statehouse reporters gathered around Taft in a hallway to lob questions at him. After a few minutes of Q and A, Taft went into an adjoining room to give blood. The reporters were under orders to wait outside as Taft was hooked up to the needle.

Standing among the reporters during the lull were a couple of PR types who were taking pictures of the event.

In the hallway, they were heard complaining about being unable to snap a good shot of Taft during the press conference.

Finally, with Lashutka hovering just out of earshot, the camera-toting PR type told his colleague, "I couldn't get any good pictures of Taft because Barney kept getting in the way."

For the record, the world's largest senior vice president was not wearing a green and purple suit.

Ski scoop

African-Americans still ski—and that, evidently, is still news.

For some reason, the Dispatch is absolutely fascinated by the combination of black people and snow skiing, and the Accent section will apparently feature a cover story about this phenomenon at least once a decade.

In 1993, the Dispatch's Dennis Fiely wrote the groundbreaking story "Urban mountaineers," about a ski group for blacks called the Central Ohio Ski Troop.

Fiely talked to National Brotherhood of Skiers spokesman Bob Bradshaw about obstacles that deterred African-Americans from entering the "snow-white" world of skiing. That led to this priceless passage:

"Blacks have not historically pursued the sport because 'snow is white,' said Bradshaw jokingly. Turning serious, he noted that geography has been the main impediment to participation."

Now, eight years later, the Dispatch has surveyed the slopes and discovered to its amazement that African-Americans are still skiing.

On the front of Friday's Accent section was the story "Flurry of activity: Ski club promotes fun and fellowship among blacks."

Turns out there's plenty to catch up on. Sometime since 1993, the Central Ohio Ski Troop stuck "Alpine" in the middle of its name to become COAST. The group is still a member of the National Brotherhood of Skiers, but since 1993, the Dispatch revealed, six more chapters have formed.

Unlike 1993's "Urban mountaineers," this year's story doesn't contain the words "discrimination" or "white people." In fact, in an impressive act of pun-avoidance, the Dispatch's Eileen Dempsey manages to write the whole story without once using the word "white."

We're anxiously awaiting the 2009 update.

Psst: Got any Ritalin?

If you're looking to score some contraband Ritalin, head down to Ohio State.

Investigators from Dateline NBC posed as students last summer and asked four Ohio State kids to score some pills. The Ohio State students happily complied, as reported in the Lantern last Thursday.

The program, which aired Jan. 16, explained the increasing allure of Ritalin, an addictive drug prescribed for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Even middle school students are popping it illegally these days, and it's easy to get because 7 to 10 percent of boys are on it at some point.

Ritalin—the brand name of the drug methylphenidate—gives a buzz that's like cocaine, especially when addicts grind it up to snort or dissolve it with water to inject it.

Some Harvard students have reported doing it to stay awake while studying. It's unclear whether this inspiring commitment to academics is the attraction for Ohio State students.

Ritalin abuse has been linked to heart attacks and even brain shrinkage. Other side effects include formication—the feeling that bugs are crawling all over your skin. And who wouldn't enjoy that?

Before you go bragging that Ohio State is the best place in the country to acquire Ritalin, you should know that students at Indiana University and the University of Texas also scored some for Dateline.

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