Kevin Williams’ Arrest

by on September 10, 2005

in Football,Sports,Vikings

It’s interesting how the media has–or has not–covered Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams‘ arrest August 28 on domestic assault charges.

KFAN was, as they should be, all over the story. They had all the details posted on their website by 7:25 last night. In 570 words, they reported Williams’ arrest along with all the sad details contained in the police report: That a knife was involved; that Williams was drunk; that Williams’ brother was charged with interferring with a 911 call.

The Star Tribune posted a very short piece on it yesterday on their website, and then played catch-up with a fuller story for today’s newspaper. This morning’s paper ran the story on the front page of the sports section, below the fold.

The Strib devotes 658 words to the story and covers pretty much the same details as KFAN had, while adding that Williams’ wife sustained "two lacerations on her left forearm."

In this morning’s Pioneer Press there is no mention of the story on the front page of the sports section and the story itself is stuffed on page 9D. The paper rarely posts breaking stories on their website, so the story didn’t get posted for them until their regular online publishing schedule early this morning.

The Pioneer Press devoted 124 words to report that Williams had been arrested on a misdemeanor domestic charge after an "incident" with his wife. The paper quotes Williams’ lawyer saying, "Any injuries she sustained were sustained in the course of Mr. Williams merely defending himself, which he is legally entitled to do." The penultimate graph mentions that Williams was accompanied by his wife at a Vikings kickoff gala on Thursday. 

The local TV news stations’ websites depend preponderantly on AP stories for content, and AP apparently has not picked up the story. None of the local TV stations’ websites mention the story. Likewise, ESPN’s NFL Wire thus far does not mention the story.

But KSTP and WCCO each devote a half hour every Sunday night to their respective sports shows: SportsWrap for KSTP and Rosen’s Sports Sunday for ‘CCO. And both KSTP and WCCO have sections of their websites devoted to their Vikings coverage. Yet no mention of the story in those sections.

Viking Update, which you’d think would be as all over the story as KFAN was, has not yet mentioned the incident.

It is not a happy story to cover, I understand, but it is a story that deserves coverage. Cynics might point to coporate relationships or reporters protecting their access to explain the lack of coverage but that doesn’t explain KFAN pouncing on the story. First, they are the Vikings’ flagship radio station, so there is clearly a major business relationship and secondly, a large part of their success is the fact that they regularly have Vikings players and coaches on air.

The oddest thing about the coverage is the way the PPress handled the story: Very few details; no mention of the knife; a quote by Williams’ attorney basically saying he’s innocent; and the mention of Williams’ wife accompanying him to the gala, which has the effect of exonorating the Viking. The story feels slanted to me, while the abundance of details in both KFAN’s and the Stib‘s coverage puts the reader in a much better position to determine for themselves what happened.

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