Posted Nov 11, 2019 at 08:44. Revised Jan 10, 2021 at 13:44.
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Gibson’s v Oberlin — news coverage and public relations
Oberlin College’s mauling by Gibson’s Bakery inspired the trustees to hire slick and expensive public relations consultants to cover up this giant, open sore. Before the Gibson shoplifting episode, Oberlin College’s public relations and marketing were at best clumsy and amateurish.
The College is unwilling to consider a reasonable legal settlement, so it is paying for excellent PR to sell the resulting vendetta against the Gibson’s to the alumni and the public. The PR campaign has conspicuously avoided any mention of the courtroom shellacking, which the College received from the Gibsons. The trustees and the administration do not understand that one cannot pretend that something as big as an elephant running rampant on the college campus is invisible.
Probably the most accurate and extensive news coverage given to the civil trial and the events leading up to it is on the Legal Insurrection (LI) Foundation’s blog. The LI blog is a forum where lawyers and non-lawyers alike opine about legal developments and comment on the opinions of others. The people who are posting on the LI blog range from smart, seasoned, and contemplative trial lawyers to shallow-minded right-wing nut cases. Read LI for its gold and ignore its crap.
The facts and the legal considerations in the Gibson’s v Oberlin civil proceedings were covered in detail by LI. LI had legally knowledgeable reporters covering the civil trial who made sure that the coverage was extensive and complete. (The shoplifting trial was a separate criminal trial that has no direct legal relevance to the civil litigation brought against the College by the Gibsons.)
The work of the Legal Insurrection people is probably a game-changer for reporting higher education craziness. It is unlikely that any other incident of college social justice warrior high jinks has received the continuing public and in-depth coverage that LI has provided. The spectrum of contributors lets the reader have a good feel for what different segments of the population are thinking. Look at LI’s dumber contributors factually and accept their stupid comments for what they are — the views of uninformed people.
Interestingly, the legal minds posting on LI overwhelmingly believe that Oberlin should seek a reasonable settlement with the Gibsons rather than appeal the litigation. Oberlin’s previous attorneys probably attempted to get the College to offer reasonable settlement terms but to no avail. Instead, the College has fired its attorneys and hired the best constitutional free speech lawyers in the country for the appeal process. These lawyers will not work cheap. Cost is not an issue to the College’s leadership since they are spending someone else’s money.
The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram
The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram has provided excellent continuing, and unbiased civil trial coverage and the saga leading up to it. The New York Times and Washington Post have provided incomplete and somewhat biased coverage, partly because those publications do not have the resources to dig into this complicated situation in depth. Hence, some misleading coverage.
The story on the ground in Oberlin is far more complicated than it looks on the surface, and cannot be ferreted out by a few rookie reporters from the East Coast in a few phone calls.
/s/ JD Nobody, OC ’61.
The purpose of this blog is to tell the other side of the Gibson’s Bakery, OSCA, the Kosher-Halal Co-op, and UAW stories to Oberlin Alumni lest they believe the College’s heavily redacted and whitewashed version of events. Please tell your fellow Obies how our college has damaged its reputation, the worth of our degrees, the Gibsons, the college’s union workers, K-H, and the OSCA Co-op tradition. No pandemic, sleazy PR, or conflating of libel and slander with free speech can divert attention from the BOT’s negligence in these matters. Speak up and insist that the BOT arrest its compulsive, neo-Puritan righteousness, which has already eradicated either THOUSANDS of $36,000 scholarships or 225 Steinway concert grand pianos — just to wreck a tiny bakery, a cooperating union, K-H, and the OSCA Student Co-op!