Thursday, February 28, 2008

Keep an Ear to the Sky

Usually, the local talk radio doesn't catch our attention, but this afternoon on the way to the PMAC there was SHOCKING events and BREAKING NEWS on one of the locals. They had some fellow on "who runs a web site" that said one of the LSU players was "engaging with agents" and other comments about this kid coming out early. That in and of itself was humorous as the hosts went from possibility to closing the segment that you heard it here first and began to speak of the player in the past tense. Cue the dirge music as the Star Player era is over. Again, based on the opinion of the guy "who runs a web site."

The clincher was heading to break, when the host said -- no lie -- that he had kept "an ear to the sky and was shocked to learn" about this news.

Next time, maybe an eye to the ground would keep him from being scooped.

The Young and the Wrasslin'

Road trips bring you to unique eateries, and there are few as colorful and delicious -- both culinary and culturally -- than Louie's. Located in the TigerTown district since 1941, it is a diner meets granola fixture of the LSU landscape. No trip to Baton Rouge is complete without breakfast at Louie's. This year the pancakes are smaller (go for the three-stack; the two won't do anymore) but the atmosphere is consistent. Waitresses with more piercings than "hiya doin' hon," and always, always a lead cook prone to Tourette's-like pronouncements. Hence, the spirited discussion with his sous chef (I use the term generously) over professional wrestling that prompted a patron to declare he'd just as soon watch the Young and the Restless as "wrasslin".

No, on to The Caterie for sandwiches on the way to the PMAC.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Just When You Thought SNW was Passe

On the heels of a news report today that domestic traffic numbers for Facebook and other key SNW were on serious decline, this just in from the political front. It seems if you pose in lingere on your MySpace page, it can effect your job security. Just ask Carmen Kontur-Gronquist of Arlington, Oregon. Former Mayor Kontur-Gronquist was recalled by three votes (142-139) after furor over her pose with a city fire truck. The news report is here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I Hate the Sound of Birds

Don't get me wrong, I love my feeders and backyard aviary. But in late February and early March, bird song means only one thing -- the end of basketball season is near. The days are warmer, and the smell of rain and ozone hangs in the morning air.

The flip side comes when you are still working games in short sleeves and summer slacks -- those are truly good times. That means you're deep in the tournament. Today after a fourth straight last-shot, final minute loss, the signs of spring are only the death throws of a season almost done. Here's to a good snowstorm.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

There's Always the Hobby

Six contacts, two callsigns, three bands from my little simple radio setup in Fayetteville to the other side of the world and Ducie Island.

Lot of friends and colleagues wonder why in the world I spend time with that geeky, "old man" hobby of amateur radio. Look, I love working with digital technology, but there is something distinctly magic about the simplicity of a radio, a string of wire and the skill to communicate effectively directly to someone that is literally half the globe away. (Ducie is about 500 kilometers from Pitcarn Island -- yes, where the HMS Bounty crew landed).

When you've watched a fourth straight heartbreaker -- the last second heave came up short again -- and it's the end of an era, it's nice to come home and just do something different.

So, huzzah for DX country number 135 for K1ARK. Tomorrow, back to the grind.

The End of the World As We Know tIt

Today marks the end of an era. It is Senior Day, our final home women's basketball game. We've had those before, but for me personally it is the end of a 19 year run as the person in charge. Who knows what next year brings -- maybe very little changes -- but it is pretty obvious that my run as the captain of the ship ends today.

It's been a good run, and change isn't bad -- but change for change's sake concerns me. I'll call in the crew today to thank them for their service. The one thing that I appreciate the most about the people I have worked with at Arkansas Women's Athletics events is that they worked the events for the love of the game and the support of the women's teams. There wasn't a sole who was here because they were required to do their service at a women's game; or was trying to "move up" to the men's games by training at the women's games. With few exceptions around the country, that is the norm, and you can tell it from the level of professionalism and performance.

But not here these last 19 seasons. For that I am grateful and thankful to a staff of people who have been a part of it. It was women's basketball that brought computers to courtside; brought remote monitors to press row; women's stat crew that got the nod to do the conference, then three Final Fours; women's crew with the first live stats, the first live audio stream, first live video stream, first internet presence, first Spanish language.

That wasn't me -- that was a dedicated staff of workers and volunteers that believed in women's basketball. Thank you all for the years of hard work.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Is This Microphone On?

Occasionally, I am wondering if anyone is out there listening. If so, what ever became of the Disgruntled SID blogsite. Just being curious.

Events of Today Will Affect You in the Future

Ed Wood's words from Plan from Planet Nine echo true today. More from the blog entry about the victory of Talking Points Memo:

220 heads are better than one. Jay Rosen, a press critic and a journalism professor at New York University (NYU), famously called the passionate blog readers “the people formerly known as the audience.” That’s because they are not just passive readers – they react, they mobilize, they comment and write “diaries,” and they make their voices heard. Sometimes they help do the research and reporting.

I am firmly convinced that they are also the people formerly known as the fans.

And class, the Indiana, Tennessee, UNC and Duke SIDs better be ready to go tomorrow.

Future of Journalism

The Talking Points Memo received a George Polk Award -- one of the great "old school" journalism awards. Who would have thought a blogger would take such an award. Recall, he is the one that took Trent Lott to task with his remarks.

Via the Center for Citizen Media Blog, this from Will Bunch about the significance of TPM and the Polk Award:

Since 2002 Marshall has moved to New York and — thanks to increasing ad revenue — made Talking Points Memo into a new kind of journalistic enterprise for the 21st Century, hiring a staff of a half dozen talented young journalists and rewriting the rules with a mix of commentary and original muckraking while highlighting the work of other to focus like a laser on the big political questions.

Again, how long until sports follows politics?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

There's Rough, Then There's Gainsville

A travel related entry today. Without a doubt, the roughest hotel towels I've ever experienced. Big thick ridges that look nice and fluffy. The reality? They were the functional equivalent of an abrading loofah. Something around a 80 grain grit. If every single towel wasn't the same style, I'd swear someone was playing a trick on us by switching out the bath towels with floor mats.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

That's Going to Leave a Mark

The class was divided into six "universities", and each had to handle a letter of inquiry arriving about Bob "The Turkey" Abrahamowcz's Enormous State University bowling team facing NCAA investigation. The results were, interesting. It appeared none of the class thought the furious questioning and pinning back of the ears by our "media" -- the staff of the WCO -- was realistic.

Bet you Kelvin Sampson thinks it would be realistic. Better yet, athletic director Rick Greenspan, who was put on notice by IU chancellor Michael McRobbie through a spokesperson that he had "seven or eight days" to figure out what to do.

So class, compare your 10 minutes before five media to this:

Before a group of more than 100 media, faculty and students at the Indiana School of Law on Friday, McRobbie read a prepared statement and answered questions in a news conference that lasted less than 15 minutes.

McRobbie didn't take any questions, but there's always someone who will talk. The Indianapolis Star found an IU board of trustee member and some lawyers.

The real world is always worse, and be glad you've had a chance to get a taste of it without blood in the water.

Well, until we see the packages put together for the 6 o'clock news on K-BLAIR.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Don't Think About Elephants

No. I told you not to. But, more than likely, you are, if only in a curious way. Is that suggestion? Likely. Or is it the concept of the meme, also referred to as a mental virus.

There is lots of pop-sci on the idea of an idea that burrows into the subconscious and gets replicated and spread throughout a culture. Richard Dawkins coined the term "meme" (pronounced like dream or gene) to refer to these terms, thoughts and concepts. Stealing shamelessly from one of the many Dawkins' inspired websites:

Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leading from body to body via sperm or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation. If a scientist hears, or reads about, a good idea, he passes it on to his colleagues and students. He mentions it in his articles and his lectures. If the idea catches on, it can be said to propagate itself, spreading from brain to brain.

Thus, by creating the idea of the meme and sharing it with others, Dawkins becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy -- his concept gets replicated. Folds in on itself rather quickly, doesn't it?

What does that mean for the sports media professional? Ever wonder why certain catch phrases become a part of the sporting culture, to the point they become cliche? Maybe they were the successful memes that permeated the collective sports consciousness.

If you want to read more, Richard Brodie gets deeper (and creepier) into the concept in his book and on his website.

There are plenty of adherents that twist the meme concept to their personal belief system -- that religion is a meme or that science is a meme -- with the implication that you're infected by belief in either. There's also a good bit of internet stuff pointing to genes, nano-level biological function and relating that with the meme. OK -- way too deep.

But, the next time you're curious, ask yourself this question: Boo-yea. Cute catch phrase or insidious meme?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

There is a Market for the Truth

Never let it be said there isn't room anymore for truth. You find it today on-line, but of course, you have to know the truth to know it. Now, if that isn't a zen line . . .

Seriously, one of the great truths of the internet is there is a place for everyone. The downside is the fragmentation of community in the physical location, but the unification of communities across the virtual location.

The longer we stay in this "web 2.0" -- which is a horrible marketing term -- the greater the value for clear messages. The person who can carry a message and get it through to the constituencies is the winner. They are the greatest enemy of those who obfuscate, distract or detract.

The end result is the numbers are there for those persons and sites that generate truth. The only thing that brings that down is a lack of hope. For all the straight talk, no one really wants to know there is no way out, or no uplifting future.

Thus, it doesn't take a lot of work to tear something down, and for a short period, one can get plenty of attention for that negative message. In the long run, people will burn out on the negative. What people want is a reason to believe.

Monday, February 04, 2008

More Security Worries in the SNW

Of course, if you've already put your whole life on line, not to worry. But, if you think running privacy will help you, here's some more bad news. Facebook says they have it covered, but it is not reassuring. Read more here via The Chronicle of Higher Ed. It also talks about some research projects into how these new plug ins are being used in marketing and the possible security exploits.

Here's one of the money quotes:
Most Internet users these days seem far less concerned than Ms. Felt about the information they share online. In a survey conducted last year by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 61 percent of respondents said they did not feel a need to limit the amount of information that could be discovered about them online.

Once again, digital assets, once posted, are extremely portable and persistent.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Tough Day

Hard to watch, tough to write and even more so to update with web service winking out. Get back to Fayetteville, and guess what? No Super Bowl for Dish customers due to local outage. Great.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

What is Worse -- The Truth or Spin?

We had an interesting exercise question from the book this week, and very interesting student responses. What do you do when you have negative news? First, understand that something negative to one person isn't negative to all. Player departures often appear negative, but there isn't a coach in the country that won't say sometimes you get addition of team unity through subtraction of a player or two.

Be concise. Be honest as you are legally allowed to be. And understand when you do not say what happened, often the perception will be much worse than the reality. Case in point: Athlete is leaving program due to a family situation. If you take the "positive" road and try to ignore that the athlete is leaving, when it is discovered it immediately looks suspicious. Suppose you literally say "family situation," but the truth is she's pregnant. Unless that athlete is about to disappear from the face of the earth -- 1950s-style -- in six to 12 months it will be really obvious what happened. In the meantime, people will wonder -- did she flunk out, is she on drugs, is she fighting with the coach/team, is she a quitter.

Meanwhile, all the sunshine statements in the world won't fix the problems avoiding or hiding the truth caused. Reputation of the school and individual are at stake. Look, people make mistakes. And people forgive those mistakes when they are dealt with honestly. Don't compound the mistake with an obfuscation that makes the situation worse.

This was one of the class' money answers:
"A sports information specialist should be honest when dealing with a negative situation. The SID should establish its credibility by alerting the media as oppose to the media finding out on their own. After alerting the media, they should focus on upcoing and current positive issues to take focus from the news-making negative issue."

+1 to you for that answer.

And part of another that elaborated on what that release should say: "It would probably be smart for the SID to also include a quote from the coach on the matter, that way, once you give out the relase, the subject doesn't have to come up any more."

There is faith for the future here. But not everything is not good. One answer encouraged the release of bad news only internally as a way to keep the media from making a matter worse. Um, there's this thing called the internet -- and you're department (regardless of who or where) leaks like a sieve. Maybe I need to revisit this in class on Tuesday.

Have to add this one, in which the student adds a great angle to being up-front: "The SID should announce with the negative information a plan of action, or a way they are already solving the problem." Nice.

And to the class -- you are getting ready to cover the men's basketball game in 30 minutes, correct?