Saturday, December 29, 2007

What Do You Do When The Rumors Are Wrong?

Rumor starts to run that Mike Conley was trying to be, or was, Darren McFadden's agent. They were spread far and wide. Those darn internets at work again against Arkansas? Well, it spread on the internet, but what do you do when it's the traditional media?

Within 24 hours, hardly any of the details stood up to scrutiny. Some of them should have been obvious from the get-go. Former Razorback track star Conley is not registered with the NFL, working instead the NBA for his son and friends. He hasn't lived in Fayetteville in years, and by all accounts was in Chicago the past week.

The car first came from a dealership in Fayetteville that didn't sell the brand. Then it changed to a correct dealership, but in Little Rock. It was registered to his mom. Then his step-mom.

ESPN bit, and sunk the hook deep because of "multiple" media sources reporting the troubles. Problem is, two of the stations are really one when it comes to the hybrid combined sports department.

Much time has been spent decrying the blogger, the new media, the citizen journalist; but this was at best a two source -- more likely one source -- story that the media began to multiply without a lot of time spent on verification. That is a fact that one TV station in its apology and retraction has admitted as much.

Reminds of the multiple coaches hired by Arkansas -- men's basketball and football -- reported by media thanks to unnamed sources. Being first appears to have completely overtaken being right.

And how was this behavior any different from the folks who blindly post rumors on line? At least on this one, it's hard to see it.

The story isn't over, and it still could turn out with McFadden missing the bowl. That would be a tragic outcome for the media. What would be remembered is that taking a chance on a rumor -- and getting almost all the key supporting facts wrong or severely twisted -- led to a scoop.

New Hampshire Travel Notes

One spare day to take a little time off . . .

The one good thing that comes from an all-day flight thanks to a "mechanical" 'ed first flight, a lying series of airline managers and a redirect to Vermont was stumbling onto Art's in Burlington. Anyplace that sells frys (note the spelling) by the cut, pine or quart should be good, and indeed Art's lives up with the closet thing to In-and-Out french fries. They obviously are using fresh spuds cut on the site and properly fried up. And the pepper burger wasn't bad either.

The Red Arrow in Manchester is far hipper, much edgier and quite small compared to the piece on Food Network. Don't miss it, and maybe you took can sit in the booth where BareNakedLadies sat.

Basketball Hall of Fame -- another must see if you are a hoopster, but there are some disturbing little errors (letter soon enroute to BHOF -- one preview, the Supreme Court can't pass legislation [it reviewed the Nixon administration's legislation on Title IX]).

And, it was great taking in a 70 contacts in a single hour in the studio at ARRL. By the way, for the guy in Florida who took the time to CALL and complain about the signal, sir, the ARRL tech did check, and you were the only one in 70 folks to have splatter. Thanks to you for ruining the day for those other 69 folks who were just happy to get a contact from W1Aw.

Game day tomorrow

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wii're Having Fun Now

OK, another post off the beaten path, but Nintendo scores again with Wii. The wife surprised all with snagging one for Christmas, and the games are -- well, something you must experience. One media colleague said that his staffer's poker night has now degenerated into a Wii bowling league. Another of my former students who works for one of the major game companies admitted that initially they put very little in resources into the platform, but now it is second only to XBox360 -- forget PlayStation.

What caught my eye today was setting up the wireless, which opened up a weather and news channel. This is iPhone for the home TV. Sure, the selection is highly filtered for a national audience, but I was on top of the mauling tiger before anyone else in my circle; plus I even found a story related to my field -- more later on the feature on the director of the sports security group at Southern Miss. My son could get EPL scores. My wife can get weather easier than our DirecTV setup (which is the one thing she regrets of terrestrial cable).

In the constant battle for content, wonder what it takes to create a channel on Wii? The Razorback Channel goes Wii, hmm?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Feliz Navidad for Mexican Coca-Cola

This is decidedly off topic, but I've rediscovered a bit of my youth with imported Mexican Coca-Cola. I've had friends that went out of their way to find Mexican Dr. Pepper, or kosher Dr. Pepper, claiming that the cane sugar product was that much better than the domestic high fructose corn syrup.

There was a story in one of the local Sunday papers about this import, and how much fans were saying it tasted like the Coke of their youth. Predictably, the official spokesperson said there was no difference in taste at all.

This reminded me of the infamous New Coke fiasco. I was working at my first job as a reporter, and noted in my column how much I disliked the new Coke and once we ran out of the Real Thing would be switching to Nehi Grape. If you didn't know, Monroe was the town in which the first Coke bottle was used to produce by a bottler, and the Biedenharns were not amused. They came down on the publisher, and he came down on us. We were forced to do a blind taste test to "prove" that we couldn't tell the difference. After the third time of getting it right -- telling New Coke from Real -- the Coke reps finally gave up and the publisher got off our case.

So after paying quite a premium price for a case of Mexican bottled Coke at the local Sam's, I was a little curious if there was something to the old cane sugar formula. Oh. My. I'm sorry to tell you that you can't get Mexican Coke outside of Texas and Arkansas unless you find it through a third-party reseller. Guess why? Yep. To protect the local bottlers.

As Ferris said, if you have the means, I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thank You Pat Forde

Certainly the genius of a 10:30 PM press conference to reveal Bobby Petrino as the next Razorback football coach was revealed by the full house and the 24-hour news cycle nce of Arkansas football.

It did become the classic "just-spell-my-name-write" publicity as the national media hammered both Petrino and Arkansas. But for the last day, you could not escape the Razorbacks.

The hire of an aggressive coach like Petrino was set to unite the Razorback Nation, and the near universal reaction by fan sites, bloggers and general fans was positive. The Arkansas fans are ready to unite and head forward.

Enter Pat Forde. I single him out only because he's been quite vocal with his issues over Petrino. OK, they have history. Forde does us a tremendous favor. Make all the fun you want, but this is the South. Speaking globally, I can call my coach a SOB, but by god, just like my brother, sister, cousin, mother, father, YOU can't say that about my family.

Meanwhile, my favorite blogger post: For coaches, the NFL is a stepping stone to the SEC. Think about it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

More Facebook Disasters

Beacon, the advertising delivery platform in Facebook, has a dark side. As it harvests your sales information, it can mate that with your friend lists and use that to target others. Fine, as long as your purchases are those that you want to share with friends.

Think that new commercial with the voice activated MP3 player in the car that gives up the embarrassing info that you have Michael Bolton in your artists. Except all your friends without your permission know you just bought MB's greatest hits. An alert -- hey, Dr. BS just purchased MB's greatest hits -- with the hope that your friends will want to join in with your trend.

More likely, things you don't want others to know are revealed. From the , the gift you just bought your significant other is outed. To the creepy, that the gift came from Frederick's, and perhaps you have a liking for French Maid outfits.

Remember, you volunteered for this when you signed up for the SNWs. Ooh la la.

Friday, December 07, 2007

No, You Didn't

While the world turns in the pursuit of a new Razorback football coach . . .

This just in from the Facebook world. Penn State students busted out for photos of a relatively tasteless Halloween party themed on Virginia Tech victim costumes.

One of the students caught in the story, of course, puts the blame on the system. "They were suppose to be private," he says. How many times does it have to happen for people to understand there is no such thing as "private" once it appears in the server farms of others.

More from WSLS

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm a Believer

For years I've heard about Shakespeare's Pizza in Columbia from the various Mizzou grads in the media. So on this road trip, the radio crew decides its time for a little research. Oh. My. This would not replace my hometown favorite -- there is nothing, nothing like Johnny's Pizza -- but that pie in Columbia was darn tasty.

Even better was the vibe. That's what's truly missing in America today. To one side, is that a photojournalism prof that is being fawned over by his young-enough-to-be-daughters. And scarfing up tables as fast as they could, is that the sociology department entertaining a future colleague? Mixed in with several nuclear families and fraternity brothers? It was a lovely step back in time. You can fill in the blank with your college food haunt -- Enochs was where we went with the profs.

Oh well, until the Ajax next month in Oxford . . .

Saturday, November 24, 2007

You've Got to Be Kidding Me

As much as I like a nice winter day, the cold and drizzle in San Antonio made this trip miserable. Any further north, this would have been snow -- no doubt. And, now the forecast has winter weather advisory for two counties over.

Really looking forward to New Hampshire now. Of course, with this wacky weather, it may be short sleeves at Christmas. Then again, the Mount Washington weather station had -2 F and 55 mph winds.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Visit to the Mother of all Cabanas

Now the unarguable upside of the UTSA tournament is the chance to visit the original Taco Cabana. Great story -- an old Dairy Queen bought by two guys running a neighborhood bar that wanted the building's parking for the bar. Decided to go ahead and operate a taco stand, and the rest is history. Turnabout is fair play -- today, the bar is the parking lot for the Taco Cabana #1 location.

Kyle Kellams, our play by play announcer, mused how many motherships I'd had the chance to visit. The ones I can remember: Wendy's, Popeyes, Tom Horton, Krystal, Burger King, Whattaburger, Starbucks along with the Cabana.

But the Cabana, with its limited locations and a lack of trips to its region has a special place. With any luck, I'll equal or surpass the record run of every meal except one during a tournament trip from the Rice tournament back in 2004.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I Hate Thanksgiving

Now that I have your attention, what I dislike is traveling on Thanksgiving. This is a factor of being in college sports, particularly basketball. If your team is any good, you get none of the holidays -- at an early season tournament for Thanksgiving, to or from some holiday tournament at Christmas, same for New Year's Eve and in many years postseason tournament for Easter.

I saw the harbinger of the holidays a few days ago -- the green and red Starbucks coffee cups. Shudder. Visions of really bad chain restaurant Thanksgiving dinners. Wandering aimlessly through empty airports or closed down city centers.

Last year was the exception to a 23-year run as the family got the chance to travel with me to Hawai'i, and we all had home cooked Thanksgiving dinner with my kami'ani aunt in Honolulu. Years ago, we at least got to stay home for Thanksgiving as Arkansas hosted a tournament, but some of the other staff got tired of having to work the Friday after, so they endorsed killing the tournament and sending the rest of us off on the voyage of the damned (I hope their turkey's got dried out in the oven today).

It has led to some interesting Thanksgiving meals, like the one in 2000 madly grabbing at a package to turkey meat and a bag of fritoes at a grocery store in New Jersey -- literally the only thing open on Thanksgiving night.

I love to travel with the best of them, but looking back, I've missed way to many family events for this job. Here's fair warning to those wanting to get into the business. When I started out, we always wondered why the boss sent the graduate assistant to Hawaii, or Puerto Rico, or Alaska. He never seemed to take the cool preseason trips.

Now on the other end of the gig, I can see why. Once you've seen San Antonio, there's no need to see it again on Thanksgiving night. Family is more important. I did make that choice one year, however, as my mother was dying of cancer I sent my student worker to the Virgin Islands. To this day, people still don't get why I'd skip that trip. As it turned out, it was also the last Thanksgiving our extended family had together as a series of holiday deaths would follow -- punctuated last year with my mother-in-law passing on Christmas morning just minutes after opening the presents under the tree.

We hoped the long shadow of illness and funerals had passed -- literally -- with last season. We were fresh out of older relations -- mothers, fathers, aunts, birth parents -- then we get the slap in the face of maybe having my job potentially dead. Another reminder that just when you think it's safe to go back to the gym . . . .

Oh well, at least the Blue Bell is fresh down here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Those Internets Strike

No one will know what really happened this past weekend with Houston Nutt for a while. By what happen, let me be clear I am not casting any judgment on the rumors. What I'm more concerned about is the process that brought us to the point that the story went from website hint to national television network within the space of 24 hours.

For the moment, this is another unfortunate ramping up of the clash between traditional and new media. A fundamental part of the problem is the shifting scale of sourcing. Are two sources required? What if those two sources are not independent of each other? What about an individual who runs his own blog, and has a different standard than when he is working for his traditional media outlet? What if the same applied, but it was a radio talk show and a media outlet? Speed is one of the great problems, as competing media -- both similar and dissimilar -- battle to be first.

When all the dust settles, one can only hope that the parties may be able to come together and figure out how to better control these outbursts.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The End of the World As We Know It

The unification of men's and women's athletics at the University of Arkansas gets announced today, and if it is a unification, if it really becomes taking the best policies and people of the two departments, it will make something that can take us to the next level.

If it becomes as almost every other men-women event -- as Donna Lopiano once said, "When the departments merge, the women submerge" -- we'll become just another cog in the big wheel of athletics.

As one would expect, individuals on both side are anxious. Time will tell.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Ad Platform Comes to Facebook

Remember those profiles you made, those friend lists? That represents a social graph to the folks running the SNW. Now Facebook will utilize this info to create an advertising graph, and in turn target advertising. This could be benign, but then again it is a little more of your privacy peeled away.

Meanwhile, TiVo is acknowledging it is planning to sell data on your viewing interests. One difference here, hardly anyone realized you were signing up to give up how much you watched Gillian's Island or the Inside of Jillian.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Telling Quote from New Book

On the nightstand right now is Craig Silverman's Regret the Error. Right off in the introduction, this one is a winner:

As trust in "official" journalism wanes, many other newslike operations are evolving to fill the void. When people stop trusting the media, believing the media, they go elsewhere.

Silverman's thesis is all the errors -- large and small, acknowledged and uncorrected -- add up to a general loss of faith in journalists.

The elsewhere referenced by Silverman are blogs, websites and message boards. No surprise here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Booing by SNW

Saw a little of this last year when the "cheering" instructions for the Duke student section against UNC were posted on Facebook. Now the Orlando Sentinel brings us the tale of heckling football players by opponent fans.

Once again, it proves there is such a thing as too much publicity.

For those of us in the profession, here's the money quote:

Courts have ruled that college athletes are quasi-public figures, said Catherine J. Cameron, an assistant professor at the Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg.

That means an athlete would not have to prove that an Internet message-board poster acted with malice when making comments about the athlete's personal life.

Even then, and even if a statement was shown to be false, a plaintiff still would face difficulties in potential lawsuits.

"Can you really prove they [the defendants] posted it instead of somebody else who had access to their computer?" Cameron said.

We go a step further. Every year during the new student athlete orientation, the first slide of the PowerPoint tells them the moment they signed their letter of intent with the University of Arkansas, they became public figures -- in every sense of the term.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Not Exactly on Pace

Weeks like these remind me that while you might get behind on the blog, it could be worse -- you could lose family members, or spend quality time bailing out siblings. Compared to last week, these real life things with some others around remind you of two things. Above all, not so bad in your world. Second, you never quite see the life changers that come at you on a Tuesday afternoon.

Deep thoughts aside -- recent development in the SNW world is the potential desire of Facebook to entertain screen names. That would be the beginning of the end for their brand, what would separate them from MySpace, et al.

Monday, October 29, 2007

There are No Boundries Anymore

One of the best articles I've ever read about the attitude of people who openly SNW talked about those on-line viewed the non-on-line as not "getting it" regarding privacy. Between red-light cameras, security videos, key tracking, RFID chips -- you really don't have any privacy anymore anyway.

I'm not too sure I go that far, but this weekend's round for college football fun did reinforce that there certainly aren't many boundries left. Not being glass house -- those who have followed know we have had our own issues -- but the incident between reporter and coach's wife at Oregon reinforce the lack of a zone of privacy. The papers are going to report on all the goings on with a team, even when its a family member. And the reporters have to know they aren't so insulated themselves when the reports seem personal -- an echo of the Oklahoma State press conference.

It is a full-contact world out there with the immediacy and permanence of internet copy, something both sides should recognize.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Time to get some sleep

With the 07 press guide back from the printer and media day over, there's a chance for a nap. Sorry for the delay in the blog, but time was at a huge premium.

Plus, many of the recent events that were worthy of comment . . . well it may be a while before we speak of them, perhaps this spring in the SID course.

That's the good news for now -- your humble correspondent gets a chance to fill young skulls with mush with a course on sports information. More on that later.

Next up -- back on the road to cover cross country at the SEC meet in Lexington. Joseph-Beth Booksellers! That's worth the trip by itself.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sorry to be Away, but This Can't Wait

Watching the Texas A&M email scandal while finishing our women's basketball guide . . .

Sorry for the long break, but this angle today needs notation. If you don't think the citizen media world isn't going to dominate sports soon, consider this move by TAMU. From the Dallas Morning News account of the scandal today:

The university temporarily shut down its entire athletic Web site and listed only links to various .pdf files so fans could judge the content for themselves.

If that isn't crowd sourcing your truth, I can't think of a better example.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

At the Speed of New Media

Today, 34 minutes from booking posting to message board. That tops the earlier 57 minutes.

Never for a minute thing the public isn't watching like a hawk.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Choose Your Friends Carefully

A new twist on an old theme -- on the social networking websites one must be careful who one becomes friends with. Unlike worrying if the person you let into your private area might one day tag you out with compromising photos or data you never thought would see the light of day, this time you could get a visit form the local gendarmes.

Removing the names to protect the innocent, seems like a University had a break-in and theft of several computers. It appears to be an inside job since the perp knew exactly where the computer storage room was within the facility. The suspect also removed the license plate and shielded the face from known security cameras.

Here's where it gets interesting: Last card swipe into the facility was a female. Thief appears to be male. First place the PD looks for a list of potential associates of female that might fit the description of the male? Female's Facebook friends list.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Which Part of Public Did You Not Understand?

More trouble for student privacy as Facebook announces that it will begin to allow search engines to access the system. That means if you have not elected to make your pages private, you can add the ability of future employers and profilers to simply google your pages.

Quoting one of Facebook's engineers: “We’re not exposing any new information, and you have complete control over your public search listing.” Surprise? Not.

At the same time, several student newspapers have launched vicious attacks on the decision, notably accusing Facebook's founder of no longer being the student-friendly little start-up. Isn't that the point of getting a degree and moving on after college -- to make money and be successful? In particular, Cornell students, wake up. Quoting from the linked editorial: "Facebook isn’t secure anymore, and there are ways to get around the privacy settings that we put up to save ourselves from parents, employers and overly-solicitous lab partners alike."

Shocking news: More than your future hook-ups are checking you out.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Social Network Bill of Rights

Finally, a movement to take control of your data and your privacy. Far too many people do not realize that your data, your images, your information does not belong to you once posted on-line. Learn more and sign on to the movement: jump here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

As Long As You're the Same Person in Both Places

We recently had some preseason features on an athlete at our university. Two newspaper writers both indicated they needed to check some information on the athlete. Both items came from the athlete's Facebook page. Both also indicated their first stop before doing an interview was to pull up the Facebook to see what angles they might find for a feature.

Just another area where students need to be careful, but a special case for athletes. Many times, hobbies, personal likes and dislikes, family information is included in press guides or official athletic department website bios. If the social networking website profile echoes or expands on the personality of the student-athlete, great. However, if it reveals a completely different person, then that's going to be an issue for both the athletic department -- caught "red handed" perpetrating a false image -- and the athlete -- particularly if the fun and interesting new hobbies involve questionable activities.

For example, Christian conservative athlete in official bios found simultaneously to favor conspicuous consumption of hemp products.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A brilliant moron

That's my best estimate of today's soccer. It's a pretty good barometer of our world today. Ashley's U12 team opened with great execution and a 9-2 local league result. Yours truly was coaching. Get home this evening, and read the comments on our website that whoever was the talent on the Friday night webcast of Lady'Back soccer must have been unpaid students cause they didn't know anything about the game. Hmm. Guess that makes me a brilliant moron. The unpaid part, yep, that was true -- I step in and volunteer on that gig cause I enjoy it, plus I get the chance to mentor some young UA students that want to try broadcasting. I hope the coaches don't cut my pay after the email.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Long weekend, but what a weekend in Canada. Vancouver is a beautiful town, and the games were outstanding. I can't imagine what could have made it better as a foreign tour. OK, we could have pulled out the last second win at Simon Fraser. That aside, our young players had a chance to mature in game situations, our veterans got some quality reps against Canada's best two teams.

Personally, it was a thrill to bump into John Tilley at the west coast location of Tilley Endurables. The tour through the EA complex from my former student assistant was an experience. By the way, if you had any doubts about the upgrades, the preview of NBA 2008 (compared to NBA 2007) was eye opening. I thought the current products were realistic -- the new frame rate makes them scary realistic.

Well, there is one error. I pointed out there isn't an SID or stat crew at the scorer's table. I volunteered to do the mo-cap, but the studio was closed over the weekend. Maybe next year.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Somedays, The Media Really Doesn't Matter

Not that those with this blog would be surprised, but raw source media is growing by leaps and bounds, and of course that is driving the citizen media. Today's lesson involves the speed of bad news.

A huge storm rolls through Fayetteville this AM -- which has me up at 6 trying to protect my wife's garage sale displays from the storm. Come inside and while checking radar scans and killing time, I do my usual morning survey of the MSM, blogs and boards.

The notice of an arrest of an athlete catches my eye, so I go to check the thread. We are a county where the jail intake -- read bookings -- are posted on the sheriff's website. Media watch it, but so do citizen media. Check this timeline:

Booking: 3:19 am
First posting: 4:32 am

That's scary enough, but its a Saturday and one can reasonably expect the regular media won't take this up until the Sunday papers, maybe the 10 pm news tonight. I get the expected calls from colleagues that also monitor new media, and it's made those rounds by noon.

Here's the kicker, late afternoon after the garage sale -- about 4 p.m. -- I'm at the checkout of the local natural foods store picking up some turbino sugar (and if you like coffee, let me tell you there is absolutely no finer sugar for your java). Young guy, I'll guess 20 at the outside, notices my hat and begins to make chit-chat about athletics. Mentions an injury that was in the paper this morning. Then he hits me with the whopper.

"So, how about (athlete) getting arrested this morning."

Parce it: This is the checker at the health food store. Not exactly a sports talk/message board environment. He's asking me about an incident that at this time is about 12 hours old, that has not been in any media, on any call-in show, on any sportscast because on Saturday in this town there aren't ANY of these until the evening.

How did he know? Maybe co-workers chatting (I doubt), maybe friends during the day (better), maybe he's also a fan of the county sheriff website (also doubtful). I didn't ask, because I didn't want to prolong or draw attention to the athlete's misfortune -- move along, nothing to see here, move along -- but the most likely source of his news: one of the four or five major Razorback boards which were doing dot-com stock traffic business on the info.

All and all, it's just another brick in the wall.

Friday, August 24, 2007

First Week at NWACC; T-Minus One Week

A double dip this week as the semester begins for both UA and Northwest Arkansas Community College. And, for the first time in almost 20 years, that means I'm back in the classroom on a regular basis. American History, second half, and I must say that it is great.

However, here's the creepy thought for the day. Those students in my classes back at NLU -- these could be their children at NWACC.

Today marks one week left until we depart for Canada and the basketball foreign tour. Expect some travel oriented editions of the blog.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Nothing Like the Start of the Semester . . .

. . . to bring your world to a screeching halt.

But this just in over the transom, the latest in ham-fisted corporate viral marketing. Looks like the Big Ten vs. Comcast bombast is taking it to the message boards. For those not following earlier, Big Ten is creating its own sports network, Comcast isn't wanting to agree to carry it on its cable systems and hilarity has ensued.

Seems Comcast is funding a "student/fan" website that is carrying on a beat-down campaign against the Big Ten commish, and was outed by one of the Michigan State websites.

The thing about those internets people, they may have Cheeto dust on their fingers, but they do know how to look up an IP address: Jump here for more.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Why Didn't I Think of That

This is a little off topic, but I can't resist. I absolutely hate cheese on my burgers. And if I've had to peel cheese off one Quarter Pounder, I've probably scraped cheese off 10,000 during my lifetime.

If only I'd thought to sue. Ten million dollars.

Media Training for Parents Next?

The SID community has put considerable resources into working with student-athletes to make them aware of the risks and pitfalls of working with the media. Maybe we've done too good a job as the media has moved on to find new unsuspecting folks to quote: their parents.

Not many days go by without a parental miscue, from speaking about on coaches to predicting player futures. Today's entry belongs to one of our own at Arkansas, Darren McFadden, who's mom got taken off-guard by ESPN to say her son would be leaving after the season.

It's in the after the interview coverage that we get a glimse, courtesy of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, into her remorse:

“ Lord knows I don’t want to be the one to advertise it [if McFadden decides to turn pro after this season ]. I’m not trying to tell anything and hurt my son. They’re going to make me not talk to nobody.”

I'm confident mom means the media when she says "they". The media is doing it's job asking questions and trying to get news, but I'd be willing to bet its the last quote for ESPN.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Oh Behave, Baby

In my best Austin Powers voice, have you seen the mojo? No, not Austin's Swedish-ly enhanced mojo, the brand-spankin' new label for mobile journalists touted by one chain in particular.

Hmm, I thought anyone who wasn't working on the desk was a journalist capable of being moving, but I digress -- don't let thinking get in the way of pimping, oops, I mean marketing, nope that's so 20th century, rebranding (yeah, that's the ticket) this revolutionary concept.

Give a reporter a laptop, a cell card, a digital camera, maybe even a digital video recorder and send them out in the field to send back stories. They will work from their vehicles! Equally stunning news -- they may not come into a desk in the office!!!

When they come to a regular reporter and tell him he's about to become a mojo, is the replicant already coming out of the basement pod?

Fort Myers News-Press is one of the Gannett properties hyping its mojo. They're also adding in those other new-wave terms of "crowdsourcing" (interestingly, now one word so I guess there's a little branding going on there) and "audience building".

The story in the Washington Post about these nifty hyper-local micro-site journalism innovations carried what has become the standard Michael Maness, Gannett VP for strategery, line on crowdsourcing. However, I do think the Dr. Evil twist in this quote is worth mentioning:

Crowdsourcing will "enable people to do digging themselves and maybe find conclusions we won't. It's having thousands of investigative reporters instead of three."

Perhaps I should provide a more serious analogy: Robespierre didn't imagine the Committee of Public Safety getting out of hand either.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Future Continues to Trend Internet

Pew Research Center weighs in with a new poll on public opinion regarding the media. Compared to a similar 1985 survey, the general view of the media is down; but dramatically down among younger news consumers that get the majority of their information from the internet.

More than 50% of those surveyed didn't believe the mainstream media. Not a good trend. Here's a quick story on the results.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

At This Pace, Both the Media and SID are Out

How about this new Google wrinkle -- adding comments from the sources of stories alongside the search results. So, citizen media can write about a story, post it on the blog and Google will gather feedback on the journalists from the people involved.

Read more at the Center for Citizen Media website.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Once Again, You've Got Two Choices

Dipping into the political world, Mitt Romney's campaign got caught in a digital crossfire when the candidate went on with a talk radio host in Iowa. The station was recording everything for its webcam. Politico has a much better indepth take on what happens next, but for the sports world it reinforces the two decisions you have on days like this.

Romney got caught. He's animated, passionate -- bordering on mad -- with the host. Not the cool, collected image he wants. Knowing the radio station would post the video, his campaign people went first and set the stage by claiming here's Mitt unleashed. They made a positive of the candidate taking the gloves off and showing his passion. Nice.

Better than the alternative -- waiting for someone else to define your person for you.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

More on Those Internets

Not exactly where you might expect to find one of these chestnuts, but Tony Blankley was railing on against withdrawal from Iraq and promoting his book, The West's Last Chance, when he delivered this prescient thought about the internet.

From the Fishwrap blog:

Mr. Blankley said that technology has helped spread the violent extremist message of radical Islam. "The Internet has been the purveyor of these ideas across the globe," he said, comparing the way the Internet has spread radical Islam's message to the way in which Guttenberg's development of the printing press helped spread Protestant Christianity.

Certainly speaks to the sea change nature of the net, but is he reaching? Discuss.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How Many Times Do You Have to Say It?

Regulars here will find this passage remarkably familiar:

Investigations would no longer be conducted by a coven of professionals working in secret. Instead, they'd be crowdsourced — farmed out to readers who'd join in the detective work. Gannett papers would also become repositories of local information, spilling over with data about everything from potholes to public officials' salaries. "We must mix our content with professional journalism and amateur contributions," read one of the PowerPoint slides prepared by Gannett execs. "The future is pro-am."

For the whole story on how Gannett invents the future, jump here.

Once again, this is coming to sports and it will likely start on more college campus than just Arkansas. I know it's the near future -- at least, who knows it just might be a trend, but I doubt it -- because this is what we are living today. It has split the local media right down the middle between those who let the crowd drive their agenda and those who cleave even closer to their sources.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Surely Sanity will Reign

When I first read some references to this story, I thought certainly this was a slice of fark -- that quintessentially overstated event way-hyped by the media.

Can anyone in America explain to me how student-athlete statistics can be remotely viewed as a part of FERPA? Public institutions, public events, no way, no how private student records.

That said, here's a link to the Houston Chronicle's amazing story. The gist: looks like PO'd parent wants to rescore the high school stats; coach wants to keep his numbers from the parent.

Show of hands on the number of irate parents that have questioned your stats? Good, that's about everyone. Show of hands that think this is a legitimate legal position and/or good public relations idea? Good, there aren't any airborne digits.

Here, we have all students sign a waiver regarding their publicity info. That said, if I am to believe the lawyers who claim that we can't restrict or trademark the statistics from events -- the argument is these are facts -- how can that possibly jibe with FERPA?

Unless this gets cleared up quickly, I can see aggressive coaches and councils across the country using this as a new cudgel to batter media or fans they see as negative.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Has Talk Radio Become the Anti-Blog?

Message boards are by their very nature a negative medium. You don't take the time to sit down at the keyboard and bang out a point-by-point atta-boy post. No, you hit the keyboard when you're pissed. The positive sunshine fan turns into an acid-dripping rabid dog to rip negative folks.

Ten years ago, we were wringing our hands about the negative influence of talk radio. The reality today is there is more positive energy on the sports talk show.

Take a look at the political realm. Conservative voices dominate talk radio. For whatever reason, no one has managed to program a profitable and ratings successful liberal talk show. In the spoken word, there just doesn't seem to be a market for liberal ideology.

Before you get too upset, look at the blogosphere -- where Daily Kos, MoveOn.Org, and other liberal oriented websites hold sway. So the written word -- or better put, the multimedia word -- is a market that seems more oriented toward the liberal.

Perhaps the balance isn't within the format, but by using the format that best fits the message.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Moving Closer and Closer to a Blog World

Now that the reviews are in from the great CNN-You Tube debate, can anyone really say that the future isn't citizen media. Was it a stunt on the part of CNN? Sure, particularly the Aquaman global warming question and the great question about faith asked by a guinea pig.

But this is the thought for the day for college administrators: one of the people that will be in the race for the White House spent the evening taking questions directly from the people.

Do you?

Friday, July 20, 2007

News from the Front

The proper role of the journalist continues to evolve, and Northwestern becomes the latest battleground. It seems silly to speak of the "future of journalism" -- a field that by its very definition should be future focused. Yet, the ubiquitous iPhone is -- peel of trumphets -- changing the face of journalism forever.

Nevertheless, read the Chroncle of Higher Ed today on the changes coming in the fall curriculum at Northwestern. Heart of the story:

The most controversial change, though, is the increased emphasis on marketing. This fall, lessons in audience behavior and motivation will be taught alongside drills in crafting leads and meeting deadlines. Students will be encouraged to connect with readers by writing out of storefront newsrooms in diverse Chicago neighborhoods. Some praise the changes as long overdue; others dismiss them as a sellout.

Yeah. OK. That jingling sound? It's your cluePhone ringing. All this comes on the heels of the Wall Street Journal dust-up on the 10th anniversary of blogs and a pissing battle only an uber-geek could enjoy over who was first.

Try this angle: Martin Luther. You know, 95 Thesis. Posted on the church door, the bulletin board of its day.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Not Coming to an Arena Near You

The prohibitions on fans/media usage of new technology to capture moving images at sports facilities marches forward. For years, we have maintained a "no video" policy at venues, much to the chagrin of fans/parents/scouts, etc. Looks like we're not the only ones -- from the Wall Street Journal:

The owners can do that for a simple reason: They're owners. "It's our facility," says Karl Swanson, spokesman for the Washington Redskins, a team viewed by the press as particularly hard-line on this issue. Along with the NFL's new rules, the team will maintain its policy of not allowing print reporters to record Web video footage. The Redskins also battled with the Washington Post in 2005 after the paper twice posted about 400 photos -- about five shots per play -- in near real-time during games.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Only Two Ways to Post

For persons involved with public entities, there are two ways to engage the blogosphere. Either go under your name with full transparency, or go undercover. (OK, there is the Ostrich Strategy -- stick your head in the ground and act like those internets don't exist.)

In my humble opinion, open and honest is the only way that works. If you go subrosa, it is not if but when you get found out. Nothing good happens in that case. No Nixonian level of justification of means to ends will clean up your reputation because at the very start of whatever message you tried to carry -- it started with a lie.

You lied to the reader about your identity. It calls into question everything that follows.

As I have said many times regarding the spokesperson and the blogosphere -- you are outnumbered, out-manned and out-resourced if the blog-world decides to turn its blow torch of attention on you.

It takes considerable resources to become, as one internet security person described, a hole in the water. Good luck to those who'll try.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

You've Got to be Kidding

The DC Madam's lawyer says the main reason why they have printed the phone records on line yesterday. To paraphrase, we need to use the "crowd sharing" resources of the internet to help them identify who the phone numbers belong to.

No. Really.

In a searchable database, you can check if your number (or husband's number) is in her phonebook.

Remember, that's a very near appropriation of Gannett's new "crowd sourcing" concept of putting up primary records to the blogosphere to pick apart.

"There is No Privacy in Public Anymore"

Geraldo Rivera said it tonight on FOX, and you have to agree. The quote was from the back-and-forth on Miss New Jersey.

The photos are out -- pretty tame for Facebook stuff, frankly -- and the Jersey contest people decided to let her keep her crown.

Newsday writes today another quote-fest story. The money quotes:

"This was meant to be private," the 22-year-old told NBC's "Today" show on Thursday. "It was supposed to be between my friends and I."

But even better, fellow Jersey Girl Antonella Barba -- who got whacked from American Idol for her indiscreet on-line photos:

"I used to say 'Cover your tracks,' but it really should be, 'Don't make tracks that need to be covered,"' Barba said Thursday. "Once anything is online, it's free rein."

No truer words spoken on this subject.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Another SNW Stalking Horror Story

Miss New Jersey is getting blackmailed over party-pics, supposedly taken at a Halloween party. Guess where they came from? You guessed it -- SNW.

For this blog, no surprise here. For those putting faith in SNW security -- in this case Facebook by name -- read this key passage from Newsday's story:

At least some of the photos were taken from her private Facebook page, but who did it and how have not been determined, the lawyer said. The page has since been taken offline.

It does not take a scientific rocket to figure this one out. The anonymous blackmailer? Former permissioned friend; better yet, friend of friend who copied the original digital images and shared them forward with the usual, "Hey, check this out" subject line.

One more time -- SIDs, students and student-athletes -- digital assets are extremely portable and easy to copy. Post once, view forever.

Working on to The Next Thing

This week, I'm back on the road to learn more about another item that I feel is extremely important to the SID community -- community relations and public safety. FEMA has excellent courses on public information officer -- a government designation that not only sounds like sports information director, it really is a similar task.

Currently, I'm working my way through advanced PIO, and there is tremendous things to learn both for my daily job and in the event of large scale emergency at our campus or in our community.

If you are not involved with your public service agency PIOs, you need to be. Every time there is a major sporting event on your campus, you are at risk for a major event. How will you coordinate into the new standard -- incident command -- if there is a major event?

Through the Emergency Management Institute, FEMA has several on-line courses that can give you some important starts on this area. In fact, if you are looking for a good outline for media training, the professional development course on Effective Communication is a great start. It may be cast for the public service/political sector, there are excellent drills, examples and guidelines for the sports community.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

What's worse -- that no one posted comments from the convention notes or that no one in the organization seems to notice or care? Perhaps the third way on this one is that no one in the profession is viewing the blogworld as a part of college sports. My money is on a rude awakening for the rest of the country as the lovely "beta" testing of citizen media and Arkansas athletics rolls out nationwide.

Viva la Revolucion

The item of the day from the final sessions at San Diego was the CoSIDA business meeting as the organization votes near unanimous (or at least is seemed so) to create an executive director. The full-time position will start sometime next year.

Aside from some obvious items -- the only college group without an exec dir, most notable -- I speak from personal experience on how important the director is for the organization. When you have a good one, your board can concentrate on outreach and fundraising. When you don't, at worst all hell breaks lose; at best the board spends all its time doing nuts-and-bolts work. That's what the current CoSIDA board is spending way too much time doing.

More important, the SID's finally have their own SID -- someone who can promote the profession with the other groups.

Makes you wonder why it took so long for us to figure out that we'd never send the football head coach out to do his own general PR; that's a waste of his time.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I Believe it Translates in German . . .

Make no mistake, San Diego is my favorite SoCal town. It's filled with lots of sites, sounds and hey, when you can find Del Taco and In-and-Out drivethrus next to each other, the whole family is happy. The downtown grocery store with its own parking deck and moving sidewalks.

At the same time, today was the first time in a long time to be accosted by a street person. When I've sensed trouble in the past, I've simply tried to avoid contact. That strategy didn't work today as it only send the person off the deep end. He was still screaming at me a full city block away. It was a little creepy.

Still, San Diego and Seattle remain my best West Coast towns.

Ranly on Writing

Another CoSIDA convention day update.

Don Ranly conducts his somewhat regular writing seminar this morning, followed by a handful of table topics. The majority of today is taken up by the social activities -- golf, softball and the annual picnic. USS Midway hosts the picnic.

I'm pretty sure Ranly would find the prose here less than stunning, so we'll just leave it at that.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Let's See How Tomorrow Goes

I don’t think it’s a matter of how much push back this blog generates. Oh, I’m pretty confident that is a given from the reaction I’ve had from traditionalists. The question is just how much of a pariah I’ll become.

So colleagues, before hanging me by the thumbs from the flight deck of the Midway, consider these items:

The blog is here to stay. The media does it. Our schools do it. Myles Brand does it (via his podcast, etc). When Brand talks about creating communities and engaging people in conversations, you have to use all the tools at hand to do that. This is one of those tools.

Second, it wasn’t that long ago we had notes from these workshops handed out for members who were not around. To that extent, this will be one man’s hearing of the meeting for the benefit of those that weren’t here.

All that said, tomorrow will be scarce with less sessions and some items I need to take care of.

Afternoon with Myles

Myles Brand and Wally Renfro were an afternoon panel. I missed the lunch as mentioned earlier, but Brand spoke about integration of the athletic department into the campus. It was pretty obvious this is the new message from NCAA as it was brought home several times -- quite deftly by the two in staying on message. At first, it was a little cloying, but after time, it began to sink in how this really is a benefit to athletics. See below when the notes refer to items on coaches' salaries.

Several interesting questions from the crowd, and many of them followed the Rodney Dangerfield respect theme of past CoSIDA events. Both Brand and Renfro had some important messages to the group, and I'll focus these notes more on that mission.

The gist was: go out and work your campus, work your department, work your internal relations first before your public relations.

Some specifics, again paraphrased from their answers. Brand was the most direct with this.

Local relationships are critical that build confidence in your knowledge base and your approach. Campuses are small communities, and you need to build the relationships and the truthfulness of your perspective. Someone who understands the situations and positive solutions. It’s the local community, not pressure from a national group be it NCAA or CoSIDA.

Renfro added his perspective with:

Who is at the table when decisions are made? Someone legal and someone finance, but they are there because they bring solutions. If in our business, we are going to be engaged in a way to influence behavior is to come with solutions to problems. It’s not about promoting CoSIDA, but it’s about being prepared to bring solutions.

Here's some more that followed:

The uninformed faculty member needs context. Facts are rarely the story, context is the story. Coaches’ salaries are a major point. They are often the highest state employee in a state. Three to four dozen coaches at that level in the compensation package. Chances are on many flagship universities are many seven-figure compensation package faculty. So put the information in context, and keep athletics from being examined alone. (This may be one of the best items in the afternoon after the help-yourself advice.)

There may be faculty members who see resources to athletics are lost to academics. They may believe its a misdirection of resources. Comes back to the point of education and integration; creating some counter-pressure within the academic community to understand the role. Take the faculty senate president to lunch and find your COYA members.

Brand takes a question about what can we do to fix the lack of academic understanding. There is a gulf between athletics and academics on most campus. You won’t convince everyone, but you can reduce that large standard deviation in the middle. That has to be built on the campus. National media couldn’t do it for you, even if they agreed. The NCAA can’t do it and this organization can’t do it. It is tough work, but something only you can do on your campus.

Renfro uses a story from the Brown athletic director. When challenged on why Brown has athletics by the academic side, he reminds faculty that the Ivy League exists as a group of institutions that participate in athletics. So, Brown university professor, if athletics does not exist, you aren’t a faculty member at an Ivy League university.

There was little in the way of "news" in this (aside from some hints that the Division III split may be just around the corner -- no shock there), but it was interesting for this group to hear directly from the head of the organization not once today, but twice.

No Food For You, or Go to the Children's Table

Guess what -- no tennis shoes allowed. Hmm, even if that's what constitutes business casual at your school. CoSIDA members turned away from the luncheon today, chided and embarrassed by their colleagues.

Hey, here's a side thought -- can I chide, shame and embarrass colleagues who won't do game notes for sports that they don't think are important? Seems like a more reasonable item, but I digress.

OK, I can understand the shorts, etc., but if at my business casual includes tennis shoes. I wasn’t the one, but how demeaning for a professional at a conference to be turned away because he or she is dressed in the same manner one goes to work every day.

This is a major issue to me, because typically we don’t have a high-dress – nor do many colleges and universities. It’s the trend. Once upon a time, I was a tie and coat guy, but that’s past. Now, its more the business casual.

Let me get this straight – I can’t attend the luncheon if I went today, but other people wearing flip-flops or shorts can because they were female?

My ties are reserved for funerals – maybe that’s what’s going on with our group when we are so overly obsessed at a luncheon or session about dress. Lord knows, I’ve seen some extremely well dressed individuals stand up and speak and you know – they were much better off when they didn’t.

This one fellow I encountered who was turned away at the door had far more on the ball and a better grasp of the profession than some of the nattily attired.

For those scoring at home, no, I didn't get turned away because I was taking lunch to run my wife and kids to get something to eat. That's another thing -- don't bring your kids to lunch because A) they won't like it, B) they'll squirm and C) we've taken to "locking" the doors to keep people from dining and dashing before the program. And, we wonder why only 14 spouse/kid tickets were taken for the convention.

Session Two -- Oops on the Battery

Ah, the vagarities of battery life, plus a dash to ask some follow-ups finds my laptop buried against the wall. See the big difference actually having the keyboard on this next area. Best I’ve got are the snippets, but they’re quality.

First of all, since I am writing in short sentences – perhaps even unrefined sentences – this is not real writing. It’s an unrefined column, as one of the media said. News flash – this is one of your main sources covering sports. Get over the loathing and accept it.

Gene Stallings controlled the negativity in his program – now this is one that I want to develop further later, because it hits so close to how I’ve perceived the role of PR to be. Look, when the representative of a certain city yesterday could not say the word “hurricane”, you’re getting nothing but sunshine pumped up your rear and guess what – you’re not very effective if you can’t engage. The one thing I’ve seen lately from the mainstream, that citizen sports journalists are engaging in Rovian tactics (that is, hitting the strength) well, if you confront your problems you have a better job of changing people’s minds rather than just letting them fester.

The difference for the citizen journalist in the area of sports is that he’s not covering a sport, he’s a fan. That’s a paraphrase, but it is extremely on point. The fanaticism that comes from blind attack on a single issue can be found in partisan politics. My position: consider your working with Senator Jones, not Coach Jones, particularly if you are in a public institution.

“I read them (message boards) and anyone who says they don’t is a liar.” Thank you, media panel member. Thank you for saying what is really going on.

Real issue with access and the pizza guy – bigger thing is booster that provides it. Coaches are locking out the media who may at least give some perspective, and the people posting on blogs and message boards are these coaches' would-be friends. The media panel is very passionate -- and this syncs up with the one in Destin at the SEC -- about getting into practice.

One brings it home: We’ll write the story without the coach, his only chance is to be involved in the story.

Good stuff and food for thought

Session One -- TV Media

The two words won’t change – access and information. The way you get it is changing, but that basic value is not.

It’s good to know that the person at the top of the chain gets the essential nature of the popularity of athletics. Craig Silver of CBS makes it very clear to the room. It’s about talking to the people. Reading the media guide.

“We need access” – coaches don’t see that and they want broadcasters to pitch their message. Not their job. Can’t shy away from off-the-field issues, but when the difficult situation arises how does it affect the competition on the field today.

Silver brings home a very important point – paper is still extremely important for the most advanced technology in TV. He’s making the same plea he made at SECs last couple of years. Nice new twist – can’t read your website on the airplane.

Comes back around to the idea he wants to know it all, particularly the clips, to understand all the angles, including the bad news.

Patrick Donaher with CSTV People watching in 10-15 minute spurts and he’s worried that people aren’t getting the story. He’s suggesting a link on the website that breaks down the team’s schedule during the week, so they will know when to mesh. Some technical ideas are good, the schematics of an arena, the kind of power at the arena, the hotels, the support list of names and digits. OK – good stuff but I don’t think we’re going to post a Facebook-like class schedule for everyone to follow.

ESPNU’s Ashley O’Connor carping about the quality of the stats persons – point taken but a factor within that is having producers that will not abuse the stat people. On the one hand, the money can be worth it – when you get it two to three months later. Two way street.

Technology and efficiency are pushing the coverage of more and more events during the course of the weekend.

Minimizing non-revenue seating. Silver is encouraging AD to get with the television partners and avoid the reduction of the ability to produce live events. “Those decisions effect our decisions.” Donaher says the “clean slate” venue is going to cost more to produce, and hints that it may effect decisions on programming.

Silver brings back up one of his lines – it’s about name on the front, not the name on the back (hey, did he read our 2006 press guide?) – in speaking about the fact that passion is the difference in college sports. Silver speaks with great fervor; you can see his passion, about this being the heart, the source of power in the brand.

Let's Celebrate the Centennial

OK fellow CoSIDAns, here's the 100th post and it will issue in a convention blog.


First thing today – is this the only laptop in the room? At least the only visible one. I’ll start with some inside baseball notes from the chatter of the first day. Plus, the wireless is not available in the meeting rooms

Paper Thinking

All the early talk about the NCAA blogging case seems to focus on the credentials. Not to say that’s not important, there is only so much space in a press box. However, to think we’ll win the day with bloggers by restricting access is to misunderstand – tragically in most cases – the essential milieu of the blog.

If we focus only on access, this drives them outside the press box. This will separate the determined from the poser. That may not be good, particularly if the passion is counter to your program.

Let’s call it the Rather Effect: there are more of them than you, and if you wind up to take on the internet, better have a case of Mountain Dew and a freezer full of Hot Pockets.

With CSTV owning StatCrew, what guarantees will the non-CSTV groups have regarding internal hooks in the program? From the NCAA and league’s essentially creating a monopoly for StatCrew, it adds another level of concern for those not with CSTV.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Coronado -- Beach Trifecta

Not many years you can dip a toe in the three major beaches -- Destin, O'ahu and now the Coronado. For all the downside in this job, there is the occasional positive, particularly when you are a travel freak.

That said, MLS is going to need to go a lot farther to make its product palatable. Home Depot Center is grabbing $15 for parking and I want a heck of a lot more control, better quality soccer than that. At least at Truman Sports Complex, they get it and have free parking for KC Wizards. I was stunned that the parking cost more than my GA ticket for Chivas.

Let me add, HDC's pitch isn't going to be up to David Beckham's standards with a gigantic pair of gashes across the entire surface. Right inside the box. Unbelievable. Kudos to Kevin Jones at Arkansas because the Lady'Back pitch would never, ever look as uneven, scared and ratty.

The Answer is Ipswitch

For the CoSIDA folks -- little test to see how many of you are reading:

The face-to-face codeword: Ipswitch.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Travel Hell

Nothing quite like a good midwestern storm system to jack up the airlines. What should have been a nice, one-connection, five-hour flight to San Diego became a 19-hour See America slice of Hell. Kudos to Wendy at XNA for at least achieving a set of flights out and for the gate agent at Sky Harbor who helped with a seat issue. For the rest -- from customer service to TSA to O'Hare gate agents -- I hope you get a nice cot to sleep on during your next stranding and don't get treated the way you treated our group.

Hard to know where to start, but here's a couple of highlights:
Don't trust American Airlines' customer rebooking at O'Hare. They assured me that we were priority waitlisted for a direct flight to SD that would have sliced our day in half. What they didn't know is my travel agent's ju-ju is stronger than theirs, and I knew they had not even waitlisted us -- only some weakassed "designated preference" that did not show up.

At the gate, when asked if we were on the waitlist, her attitude filled answer was "Not on my flight!" This was before I let her know about rebook. Then it became, "Well, you'll be 86-87-88 and 89." That's when I figured out there was no need to expend anymore of my life at her gate.

Speaking of gates, I have never, EVER, had a trip in which every single gate changed -- departure and arrivals. Even when I finally reached SD on US Air, there was a plane sitting in our gate and we had to wait. Guess what airline -- that's right, American.

There's much more fun to come, but now it's time for the CoSIDA convention. Site selection is first up on Saturday.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Facebook-MySpace Divide?


Some new theories about rough stereotypes between Facebook and MySpace are floating around. The gist of it -- Facebook is for the good kids and MySpace is for the fringe kids.

Read more for you own here, but here's what I know from our own athletes -- that's pure manure. About 40% of our women's athletes have MySpace to go with their Facebook (which is about 95% usage). Of those, there just doesn't seem to be the correlation to the stereotypes.

This overlooks a really obvious point: You didn't have a Facebook account until the last six to nine months unless you were in college. Hello. Duh. Big Red Truck. Do you reckon that skews the "stereotype"?

Come back to me with this in a year after the two have duked it out on even ground. The same artistic type, cast as subaltern in this survey, probably was drawn to MySpace as much by the toolset that fostered the creative side -- layout, music, video integrations. Frankly, that what I find in the college community -- Facebook is your organizer, mailbox and social contact platform; MySpace is where your personality comes out. Once we have had that time with both more open enrollment (I'll give credit that at least the fact they are both open now was considered, but not given a lot of weight in the study) and Facebook continues to open up the template, I might buy the argument then.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

When Does a Blogger Violate Rights Agreements?

The NCAA and the Louisville Courier-Journal have set off a new round of a debate going on for some time -- who has the right to create live data from events. The NBA, NFL, MLB and PGA have all had swings at this, looks like the NCAA will now be up to bat. It's a mixed bag on legal results, and the opinions are all over the place. A great primer from the legal side can be found at Wendy Seltzer's blog.

Within all of this are two missed points. First, who "owns" the right to distribute the official statistics. Most of the debate has centered on this -- you're dealing with reporting of facts from a public location, etc. -- and looped this into the "third" rights agreement: video, audio and now data. Here is where a lot of the heat is generated because the reporters for newspapers (frankly, in an attempt to breath life into the static nature of the medium) are getting busted regularly for transmitting play-by-play. Very few people have issue with commentary on the event, but the attempt to circumvent the LiveTracker is the issue.

Frankly, one major sports network poaches StatCrew and other data streams with impunity for its aggregate live stat pages. Even has a whole division dedicated to stealing this information.

What I think is vastly more important is the creative work nature of the official stats. Many people -- Ms. Seltzer, notably in a personal sidebar -- don't recognize that live statistics streams aren't generic facts. They are the exact same thing as a television broadcast or a radio call -- the creative work of trained professionals and recorded in real time. That's the key definition given to why you can exclude other TV or radio stations from live coverage.

Before you pooh-pooh my argument, consider this -- only one person determines hit or error in baseball, the official scorer. Only one group of people can bestow the blocked shot, assist, steal or turnover in basketball, the official stat crew. Those are subjective items, and believe me, from listening to uneducated opinions of TV producers I can fully attest to this as fact (how can you say that wasn't a block? well, if you get the ball stripped below your waste, that's a steal -- regardless of how much the player flailed their arms in an attempt to draw a shooting foul).

Curious for feed back on that angle.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Field Day 2007

And now, for something completely different. Those who've paid attention to the bio know that amateur radio is a big part of things for me and a major volunteer effort. This weekend I'll close our vacation with the annual Field Day operation.

If you aren't up on what it is, I highly encourage you to go out into your local community and find the people who are running this nationwide drill. Ham radio folks are manning their stations for 24-hours straight, working in shifts to simulate a huge event and working off the grid. No commercial power for most, no premade super-duper antennas. They are, as the name implies, working in the field.

Our county -- Washington -- will have three organized FD operations: one at the University, one a combination of two local clubs and the last at the county emergency operations center. For years, I ran the overnight for the University -- the adult keeping up on the kids -- but this year for the first time I'll overnight at the EOC to help them through their first full-up 24-hour run.

You can learn more about what ham radio means in an emergency or about the national organization, ARRL.

'Til a blurry Sunday afternoon, 73s de K1ARK at WC5AR.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Few Wrecks Will Give You Religion

Hope everyone enjoyed the posts on the Citizen Media. That ran during my vacation to Florida, with some to come on that score as well.

Notable off the top was how a 13-hour drive became 16 hours after four very tragic wrecks along the highways from Fayetteville to Florida. It was after the second one -- a one-hour parking lot outside of Hattiesburg -- that my wife turned to me and said, you know, we probably shouldn't be upset about being delayed. That could have been us.

Creepy. But who knows.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

At the End of the Day, Its About Time and Space

This is a truncated edition of the longer timeline within the Destin presentation:
Susie Gardner resigned at Arkansas as the women's basketball head coach. She made her intentions known to our AD back in Fayetteville in the middle of the afternoon on a Friday. Her hope was the news could be held through the weekend, perhaps with an official release on Monday. My bad news for her was I doubted it would make it until the 10 o'clock news. Little did I realize that I missed the target by four hours.
The moment the team meeting broke up at 4:30 p.m., we were on the clock but even I was shocked by the speed at which the news traveled. Team texting got the ball rolling. The media was on it within an hour and by 6:30 p.m. it was all over.
The news traveled through the Atlanta-based SEC women's tournament as quickly as if the games were being played at Walton Arena. For the sports information office, the rise of 3G phones and rampant texting have ushered in an era not seen since the turn of the century -- the 20th, that is.
When the telephone and telegraph reduced time and space, compressing a world that previously was dominated by the letter and the pony express, society was changed in profound ways. For the most part, it stayed that way for the next century. Think about it, until the last five years, the instantaneous nature of media still took some time. OK, that's quite redundant, but consider the case of Susie Gardner.
Five, ten years ago, that news from the meeting would be relayed to parents and friends by phone. There was a good likelihood that the land-line called had no one home, maybe a message left on a machine. The long-distance costs would make some think twice about calling more than the closest friend or family member. Fans at a distant tournament a whole time-zone away would have never gotten the call -- except maybe to their hotel rooms, but almost certainly not to the arena.
Media members that were stretched out across two states and separated by another two would have waited for a fax, maybe an email, of the official press release. They would not have felt the need to hurry, who was going to beat them to the public with the information anyway.
Distant fans or fellow coaches wouldn't learn about the decision for days, maybe weeks, until they picked up the gossip from a colleague that may have seen that fateful transaction in the sports agate: ARKANSAS -- Announced resignation of women's basketball coach Susie Gardner.
The moral of the story? The moment a decision is made, and more than two people know the outcome, you are already out of time to react.
If you're in the business and want the full presentation, give me an email at the office.

Hyper-Local Journalism

Topix is a localized news aggregator that sells advertising and is actively seeking volunteers in every town to serve as volunteer reporters and editors. The company rebuilt and rebranded its internet search engine concept to refocus on the local. Topix combines local bloggers with thousands of traditional news stories and public relations press releases and generates news based on the zip code of the user. Think Rivals with AP stories and town meeting coverage.
Now, here’s the catch: who are the investors in Topix? Gannett, McClatchy and Tribune corporations, to the tune of a $15 million financial commitment last fall. The leadership group – filled with former Google executives – sank $1 million alone in the purchase of the domain.
And how do I know this stuff about Topix? From an industry blogger at, but most important, from the blog of the company director, Rich Skrenta, who’s latest post is famously titled: “What do you do when your success . . . sucks?”
Skrenta has latched onto ultra-local news based on his belief that we are craving for wanting
to know what’s going on in the neighborhood, not just the town -- thus the zip code base for your page. The first topix launch (leading to the aforementioned commentary)
put too much faith in the ability to aggregate what was already available. They quickly discovered that more correspondents and editors were needed -- thus the volunteers. This transitions from a “read only” newspaper into something more interesting in Skrenta’s opinion.
People know to not blindly trust online ‘like they did the newspaper 20 years ago,” Skrenta recently said. There is a desire for more commentary and more detail. One result: Gannett papers linking directly to Topix pages.
So the question is -- how long until your zip-coded Topix page has a sports editor? Not very darn long. Remember, there are three things that drive the internet: PSP -- Politics, Sports and Porn.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Is Citizen Journalism the New Facebook?

Internet trends come and go faster than one-hit-wonder music acts. Three years ago, no one in the athletic community was terribly concerned about this thing called Facebook. Last year, it was all that anyone wanted to talk about. Why is Citizen Media not another fad? For the same reason talk radio is not a fad – money.
In an effort to find a mechanism to “pay for the journalism we need,” the Knight Foundation
awarded $5 million in direct grants to create support systems for Citizen Media, ranging from the Center for Citizen Media at Cal-Berkeley to the Citizen Media Law Project at the Harvard Law School. Notably, the goal of the Citizen Media Law Project is to provide resources “including a legal guide that will cover everything from how to form a business to how to use freedom of information and open meetings laws to get access to information, meetings, and governmental records, as well as other legal subjects such as risks associated with online publication.” Another $5 million in direct grants to blog operators is set for 2007.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Al Gore Invented More than the Internet

Whenever doubt about a trend is expressed, check its validity by seeing if the Democratic National Committee or the Republican National Committee employs the tool or tactic. The 2004 presidential race saw the rise of the blogger – both paid and partisan – and the 2008 campaign is primed to see New Media as the centerpiece, not the sideshow. How are the candidates managing message? Blogging. How are the new proposals floated? Message boards. How is the buzz created? Social networking.
Taking another page from the government side, the Federal Emergency Management Administration offers training courses in emergency response. The majority of these courses are free, on-line training. There are two courses that relate to the SID – basic and intermediate public information officer, or PIO. Both stress the role of the PIO as an internal investigator, gathering from the individuals involved the key facts and how those details are marshaled for use in a crisis situation. The strategies contained in the PIO courses are very useful for our field. (As an aside, if there is an emergency of significance at one of your venues, your university
will find itself operating within the federally-mandated Incident Command System – the athletic department administration would be well served by its decision-makers taking the basic courses.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What Happened to Winning the Hearts and Minds?

This is part four from the Destin presentation:

Trying to woo the support of the people during a time of crisis should be the hallmark of any public relations professional. Cynical as it may appear, the goal is to gain the support of as many people as possible. It is no different for a basketball coach or a presidential candidate. Granted, Lyndon Johnson gave the phrase a bad name through a series of extraordinarily bad military tactics in Vietnam, and it continues to this day through the current administration’s
attempts in the Middle East. John Adams said it best when he wrote in 1818 that the Revolutionary War was won before it started because it was “in the minds and hearts of the people.”
But how can that be achieved for the athletic department? Start by engaging the fan base. Jesus said go to where the sinners are, and if there are issues of rumor and innuendo within a segment of the fan base, they need to be engaged.
The fear is that by stepping into the chat room or the blogosphere, this is legitimizing the accusations and commentary in those areas.
Let’s pause and consider the previous section regarding the media’s use of the internet as the digital street to gather public opinion. How many phone calls do you receive right now from traditional media who apologize for needing to check out something they heard on talk radio or saw on the message boards? They are already giving credence to the boards.
Both sides of this engagement – the media member and the SID – agree that the vast majority of what is out there is baseless. As a result, your explanation ends the potential story in the traditional media, and the job of the public relations professional is done. Unfortunately,
the problem is your answer to the media person is not being reflected back to the message board. This allows the issue to persist, and perhaps grow.
Take a page from the service industry. Those comment feedback areas and ratings on travel websites are shown to have a huge impact on hotel decisions. As a result, hotels are paying individuals to pose as guests and write positive comments. Hardly ethical, but ruthlessly effective. In addition, there are public relations firms created for the purpose of reputation managment -- positive web comments and other needs on-line.

Monday, June 11, 2007

This is Asymmetrical Warfare

Part three from the presentation at Destin:
Like it or not, the intercollegiate athletic department is the slow-moving, traditionalist target of the Citizen Journalist. Individuals with agendas can make hit-and-run operations against the institution with great ease. Rarely are the wounds significant. Most of the time, they are the small cuts that over time become the death of a thousand blows.

Turning the considerable power of the athletic department against the Citizen Media at best results in driving the individuals underground to gather themselves. At worst, it makes them heroes or maytrs and brings more people to the cause.

If the terms sound ominously like those used by the Bush Administration in the war on terror, it is because this is. The Citizen Journalist is a committed partisan who believes in the cause and is righteous in the fight against wrong-doing. Threats of lawsuits and attacks upon the character resulting in equally overzealous supporters making counter threats against life and limb only serve to ratchet up the battle.

But what can a coach, a university, an athletic department do when they have tangible assets at risk and the person making the attack -- in comparison -- has virtually none? What is served when a million-dollar coach sues a mid-level wage slave with zero assets, a huge mortgage and five-digit credit card debt? That's the point, the very unfortunate point.

We Interupt this Blog Already in Progress

Taking a quick break from the parceling out of the Destin presentation to interject these two breaking stories. First, the NCAA takes a stand against active blogging during the College World Series. Check out the controversy at the Louisville Courier-Journal story.

There's a fine line here. Our position has been the transactions of the game, the data stream of statistics, is a protected right just like the audio and video representations of the game. We would have done the same if the person was doing live play-by-play. My question would be, is the reporter giving random thoughts about the game and post-action comments about events.

Not knowing the details, you've got to read this one and make your own judgment.

Baseball (and softball and track) are extremely well suited for bloggers. Lots of time between significant events. Even enough time for a quick typist to transcribe the whole event. That's the rub you don't see often in basketball (too fast without a stat program for coherent play-by-play posting) and football.

Second issue is the growing number of MLB stadiums that are following the example of NFL and NBA and removing prime seats for media and giving it to big ticket "boosters". It's moving to the colleges as well. This is a New York Times article by Richard Sandomir on June 11 -- so you'll have to have a subscription for that one. Obviously, the owners have calculated that having the favor of the media isn't worth the money of the skybox.

Now, put A+B. The C is this: what happens when the citizen journalist sits in the stands and blogs away about the game, covering it without the threat of losing a credential. Sure, the citizen may or may not get to ask post-event questions at the press conference, but they can get quotes from various live streams, podcasts and regular media just fine. Their goal is interpretation anyway, or different angles (for example, a hometown story about Joe Blow written by someone from his back-home Topix netitor.)

As they say, developing . . . .

MIDDAY UPDATE: Check these notes at the Center for Citizen Media and Poynter Institute. Folks, as sure as I said Facebook was your problem two years ago, YouTube last year, this is the new wave -- ride it or get crushed when it breaks on your shoals.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

You are Outnumbered

This is part two of the Destin presentation:
The San Francisco Chronicle announced the cutback of 25% of its editorial staff at the end of May. Why? Profits for the company are the top reason, but how will the Chronicle continue to cover its city? They will employ more and more internet copy and information.

As one of the vice presidents of Gannett Corporation recently said, “If you have people in the community commenting or uncovering things that you didn’t find, we have found that we are getting a lot more depth to our investigative coverage because of that.” Their new mode of “citizen journalism” makes documents and raw data available for readers to pour over details and help the newsroom. Another term used by Gannett exec Michael Manness was “crowd-sourcing,” and extolled the virtue to turning over tools previously only available to the traditional journalist working in the office.

In the past, a newspaper required many reporters to perform the task of gathering news. To get a scoop, the reporter had to know which sources to talk to, where to find those sources and how to verify their information. This was time and space consuming. The reporter had to know the right barber shop, the right coffee shop, the right break room; and he had to be at that physical place at the right time.

The message boards speed and simply that process of gathering the gossip. A reporter can be anywhere, and look up any information that was posted over the past time frame. One need not worry about missing the equipment manager at 8:15 in the morning at the donut shop. The information is waiting to be found.

When more depth is required, a dedicated blogger will provide the road map to any controversial situation. From the television network news operations all the way down to the local newspaper, the paid media are accessing the volunteer media to take the gossip item found in the message board into an investigative piece.

Thus the internet becomes the “force multiplier” of the media. Dan Gilmor, director of the Center for Citizen Media at the University of California said it best. “We can put more people against any story than any organization could,” said during a radio interview. “We’ve got 1.6 million people participating on our site.”

As the spokesperson for the department, the SID finds himself a lone voice, and one that is typically only speaking to and through the traditional media. Is it a surprise that the media increasingly pays more attention, puts more weight, on the other side of the story? There are more people expressing it from multiple angles and in multiple formats.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Rise of the Citizen Journalist

Parsing it out in small doses, here's the first part of the presentation in Destin to the SEC SID meeting:
The question rapidly becomes what is a journalist? These are times not unlike the late 19th Century and the mid-20th Century when the institution itself is undergoing fundamental change. The Muckrackers and the New Journalism movements were paradigm shifts driven by societal and technological change. To simply point at the broader usage of the internet and computers as the sole cause of the rise of Citizen Journalism is to overlook a shift in the way consumers seek information. Research from the Pew Trust this past year indicates that a “digital divide” remains, and in many ways is widening, between those who receive information
by new media and by traditional means. The divide isn’t economic, it is social. More broadband, cheaper computers, easier access are not likely to bridge the chasm.

Throughout modern history, man has sought information, and has tried to achieve the truth from the source. The majority operates under the assumption there is one truth, but increasingly we find the public willing to entertain competing realities. Surveys find that younger audiences seek a multitude of opinion. They prefer the straight news story followed by open commentary that mixes both sides.

Why would a consumer want to see the rambling attacks of partisans along with the facts? The generation that was raised doubting government, putting its faith in the Watergate-era investigative journalism, has given way to a generation that almost automatically doubts the newspaper. Where in the past serving as the ombudsman of the public interest was a virtue, the core belief is the media is holding back information.

With younger readers having an expectation of differing opinions, what are the tasks for the public relations office? First and foremost, the SID must engage the new media, and do so on its own turf. This means participation in commentary, creation of Citizen Journalist networks, formulation of critical messages, and the collection of information from all points of view for the consideration of decision-makers.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

My Spidey Sense Was Tingling

Continuing the line of "I'm not insane for interacting with the boards," this validation arrives from not exactly the most scholarly of sources -- Entertainment Weekly. The story was a couple of issues old, sitting on the reception coffee table at the optometrist. Joshua Rich writes about the way Sony execs brought in the fan websites and boards to build buzz for Spider-Man 3. Quoting one of the Sony division presidents, "It's a tightrope act." The director wasn't really thrilled about parts of his movie appearing on-line and on TV but Sam Raimi says,''It's the world we live in. I just have to adapt.''

There's a refreshing point of view. The article continues to note how other studios are working out how they may interact with internet buzz, and are ever mindful that the web can kill a movie -- citing Catwoman. Um, I've seen Catwoman. The early griping on line wasn't responsible for that.

If you want to read the EW piece.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Rudy Would Approve

This came to me on the flight home from the SEC Spring Meetings. I was mulling the reaction of a couple of colleagues about how much I engaged the new media -- read, message boards and bloggers -- to work on keeping the Lady Razorbacks information correct. I had said at the meeting that I'd rather deal with correcting errors at a level below the traditional media. Right now, a lot of the work in the rumor mill is being done for the traditional media on the boards. They don't like to admit it, but the message boards are a force multiplier for their newsroom. More on that later.

For the traditionalist SIDs out there, try wrapping your minds around this analogy. Open posting on the boards to correct factual errors -- this is the limit of my work there -- or to promote events is the same as the "broken windowpane" policing Rudy Guliani did in New York City. If you don't do something about the broke windows, Rudy says, eventually you'll have so many broken windows in your building that the building may come down. So, he spent a considerable amount of effort on cleaning up the streets and low-level crime. It resulted in an overall lowering of the crime rate during his years as mayor.

People argue with lots of things Rudy did, but he did turn around Times Square.

So, ask yourself -- will your citizen media get out of control if you don't make some attempt to interact with them? You're not going to change their opinions, but the majority -- like most reasonable people -- are open-minded when it comes to getting the record straight.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

SNW Leads to NCAA Secondary

Just for those who might try to cut around the new recruiting rules, word out from some highly redacted self-reported NCAA secondary violations that one school has turned itself in for improper booster contact. The booster had gone to a SNW and tried to chat up a recruit about how that person should come to booster's school.

Before anyone gets FOI crazy -- no, I don't know the school name, sport or even which SNW the event happened on. Remember, I said it was highly redacted.

The point is NCAA rules follow you into Second Life -- so, no creating of recruiter avitars either.

You Do WHAT?

OK, the most interesting reaction in the room to all the aggressive SNW related items at the SEC meetings was when I said, why yes, I often post on message boards. Under my name. Representing the University.

I'd say a majority thought it was understandable once I explained our policy -- not to challenge opinion and only to correct obvious factual errors -- but a couple was flabbergasted. I don't think they'll be any dinner invitations from them.

It took a while to remember a good example of when I used these direct posts, then it hit me a little late -- several times there were bogus press conferences supposedly set to deal with various untrue events. I'd help shut down those threads by the simple confirmation that there was no press conference set for X time or X day.

I realize its a bit different, but here's my best analogy. Back in the early 1990s, there was this thing called talk radio. Lots of SIDs would never call in -- don't want to legitimize that medium. Over time that changed, and here was the point. If today you heard something that was clearly in error -- there is no press conference today, the tipoff is 6 p.m., the network for the game is ESPN -- on a talk show, you would pick up the phone and call to get that corrected.

Search and replace the words "talk show" with "message board" -- tell me, what's the difference?

More to come over the next few days as I'll post bits and pieces from my presentation at the SEC SID meeting for those curious.