Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Tragic Country Crisis

Bad things happen. On Monday, Jason Aldean's tour bus struck and killed a pedestrian in Indiana. According to police, Aldean and the driver were the only people on-board when a 49-year-old man walked out onto the road. 

This is obviously a tragic situation. At this point, it appears Aldean did nothing wrong. Nonetheless, the resulting stories had the potential to make him look very bad if he flubbed the response or didn't give one. So what did Aldean do? He linked this WhoSay statement to his Twitter account and posted the same statement on Facebook:

"With a heavy heart, I'm sad to say that a man passed away last night after stepping out in front of my bus in Indiana. In all the years I've been touring and all the miles we've driven, nothing prepares you for something like this to happen. I'm praying for Albert Kennedy's family and friends today and ask that you do the same."

Now, what makes this significant is that based on the timing of coverage, it seems Aldean broke the story himself. He waited until Monday afternoon to post the statement, and it was mentioned in an all major news stories. By answering before reporters could ask questions, he prevented the crisis from spiralling out of control. Because of Aldean's prominence, there was a risk this could turn into a David-and-Goliath story that reflected negatively on him. There was no chance of positive coverage, but he managed to come across as sincere without implicating his driver by apologizing. 

Unlike at the Indiana State Fair collapse that killed seven people in 2011, here the scrutiny is on the artist, not on an external venue or organizer. I think Aldean did the right thing. And by refraining from regular social media posting, he is sending the message that he cares and hasn't gotten over the incident. Hopefully he will maintain the same level of openness and empathy for the victim's family as the details unfold.

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