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.