Thursday, December 31, 2009

If It Sounds Familiar . . .

. . . it's because the reality of what's happening these days with Facebook and your data security has been a threat since, well, 2006.

OK, sure, shameless I told you so week with the back link to early in this blog's lifespan, and Cassandra here was trying to tell you.

Next "Social" Media Problem

We just had a bit of a taste of this -- not athletes, but UofA students -- as public accessed live and web cams as the new potential embarrassment.

We talk to our athletes about their privacy settings on SNW. We don't talk to them about being aware of their surroundings.

Most schools have plenty of security cameras. Many in our venues. Where our athletes often think they are in their own private spaces. Not the time to pick your nose -- or worse. Remember, those tapes if on public property or networks become FOI'able in many states.

What happened here was one of the local TV stations getting security cam footage of a big on-campus party. Again, nothing really bad on the video, but it did illustrate the hoopla going on at the event.

Don't think it will touch you? Anybody downloaded the new hot iPhone app -- LiveCam? I'm sitting here in my hotel in Memphis, watching live webcam feeds from places like the Atomic Bomb Dome Memorial in Hiroshima. Then some classroom in Grand Island, Nebraska. And I-40 ouside of Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. And there's one here in Memphis.

Let's try the search function and sure enough, there are the three web-linked cameras on the University of Arkansas campus. Complete with the ability to move and control the cameras.

Little creepy.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

And Now Your Phone

On the heels of learning you don't have much Facebook privacy if your friends like to use a lot of third-party apps and quizzes, you can feel a little more digitally naked with the demonstration scheduled for tomorrow by a couple of "white hat" hackers of the ease of listening in on your GSM-based cell phones.

Um, that would be almost everyone's phones.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Forget The Onion, It's The Oatmeal

Best experienced than explained. But I did get this neat graphic to display on my blog. Yea.

The Zombie Bite Calculator

Created by Oatmeal

Klein on Truth

Ezra Klein writes on the Washington Post website about Sarah Palin's relationship with the political media, but extrapolates about truth and news:

For one thing, newspapers work very hard to report things that are true, but they are less concerned with whether the overall impression from their reporting is a true impression. Shark attacks, for instance, happen very rarely. But if you report excitedly on every shark attack that happens, people will think they happen quite a bit. You haven't told anyone any lies, but your stories aren't leaving your readers with a true impression of the world.

Search and replace "Sarah Palin" with almost any high profile college sports name, and rethink what Klein has said. Very much worth following the link to the whole story, and thanks again to Jay Rosen's Twitter feed (a must follow).

911: New Facebook Security Worries

On the heels of the change to Facebook privacy two weeks ago, the Northern California chapter of the ACLU has launched a very eye-opening Facebook quiz. I first heard of this through This Week in Tech as Leo Laporte and his crew were taking the quiz themselves. Quite the debate in that episode to decide if the Facebook privacy change (designed to "hep yew" -- by defaulting your privacy wide open if you've never changed it before).

I personally have worried that something skeevy was likely going on with those questionnaire apps on Facebook. The ACLU reveals I wasn't even close.

Here's the 140: Third party questionnaires aren't bound by your Facebook privacy settings, or your friends.

That's right -- your friends.

So in a new twist of the old saw I preach (you're privacy is only as good as your friends, and once you post it, it's always available), if you have friends that love to take these IQ tests and other "games" they are potentially opening a back door to your personal information that you might not thing is public.

The Deseret News has a good story on the ACLU's quiz. Here's a link to Leo's TWIT episode.

Jason Calacanis has is column on the issue entitled Is Facebook Unethical, Clueless or Unlucky.

Those who have followed here and were at the CoSIDA panel on blogging in Tampa, you'll remember Dan Gillmor. He has deleted his Facebook account -- no small gesture by a major player in networked media.

If you've decided you want out, WIRED magazine provides a wiki on how to un-Facebook yourself.

Happy 700th

Looking forward to a little free time to catch up some stories for this blog as well as to take in a little road food. Right across the street from our hotel is one of the Man vs. Food challenge locations.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Blowing Out the Blog

Welcome to Memphis, my home for the next week. We're going wall-to-wall for our bowl this week, as much as a service to our fans as a proof of concept. Each day will have a blog, each press conference Twittered, all press conferences taped and posted in their entirety, and a end of the day "Good Morning Razorbacks" package of daily highlights posted overnight. We also set up a special question box for fans to send in things they want to know during bowl week. It will be interesting to see what kind of reaction we'll receive.

Rude to Tease

Sorry for the delay in relaying the story that I teased with this photo on my Twitter feed on Dec. 26.

The photo is the gas cap of my son's Jeep. Pretty much right where I left it on Dec. 24. While rushing around on Christmas Eve morning, I took his vehicle to top off the four-wheel drive tank and to refill my generator gas cans (after all, hard to be a net controller and assist with county emergency service without power yourself).

Drove off from the White Oak Station on Joyce that day to get home for church, and until I was driving up to Lowe's to make a return and noticed -- no gas cap. Well, that's certainly good as gone, but since the station was on my way home, figured I'd drive by and see if someone had turned it in.

Those who follow know I've had a pretty dark recent history of items left then lifted from gas stations, so I don't have a lot of faith I'll find it.

But like its own little Christmas miracle -- there was the cap, right next to the pump I used. It gave me a small lift, a little more faith in people.

Secondary story -- how about that iPhone shadow. That's got to be the new "marker" shadow.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Way Too Holiday Productive

Maybe that last post relates well to why this blog has become so holiday spasmatic.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Blue Laws

Funny what crosses your mind during church, but in Christmas eve mass I'm thinking about the whipped creme and peanut butter we forgot earlier at the store. Will the grocery still be open?

As a child, this was a very real problem. Everything -- I mean everything -- shuttered for Christmas eve and day. Forgot the batteries for those new toys? You were screwed.

Now, at least two or three options are open all night and all day (as I discovered last year on a bacon quest), and most of the society -- at least the shameless commerce division -- will be back on-line by 6 p.m. this evening.

Last night, my son never went to bed and spent his entire Christmas eve engaged with one after another fellow young person that received the same on-line based video game. For him, the world never hits pause.

So is this different, a truly unique innovation? Life is 24x7, and much more so for generation's past who had to raise or hunt for food and shelter. We do have eminence leisure in the 21st century compared to the 12th (or the early 20th, for that matter).

What may be different is that society as a whole lacks the governor it once imposed upon itself. I grew up with Blue Laws that forbade most businesses being open on Sunday in the South. You just made adjustments or did without. Most parts of the U.S. got rid of their Blue Laws, and thus business runs every day of the week without much difference (unless, of course, you're looking for beer -- and even that is beginning to fade). Banks never opened their lobbies past two, or heaven forbid three, in the afternoon and never, ever opened on Saturday. White collar work was five days a week from 9 to 5. Even blue collar work was a single shift at a time.

We look at the internet as the reason why we have a 365 lifestyle. Maybe, but it's just the tool; it's the oxygen of this always on world -- the catalyst, the accelerant. Class this as a ponder out loud but the way society has become 24x7 seems a real break, a difference from our collective past.

But, is it cause, or compensation? Do we race around at what seems to be an unprecedented pace for human society because we have this connection that destroys the previous barriers to time and space (it's always after 5 p.m. somewhere in the internet empire)?

Or did we create its importance to fill a genetic gap in our leisurely world? Absent the requirement to struggle 24x7 for food and shelter, are we now drawn to something to plug that hole in our hardwiring.

Another Bright Idea Down

In trying to contrast RTR (real-time reporting) with more indepth investigation, I hit on the brilliant idea of forensic journalism. Something to re-brand investigative journalism, hip it up for the CSI generation. That was until I dig in a little to find A) that idea's been used and B) by Webster, it would not apply (forensic, by definition, relating to the legal system).

Still, we've seen a great leap forward in the ability to generate reportage from events in real time. Many argue that it comes at the expense of analytical work. Others that the free nature of networked media has destroyed the financial basis for investigative units.

I see lots of young journalists on a daily basis. At the risk of sounding Gran Torino here, kids these days don't have or seek out the skill set to do the work. Thus the forensic tilt. How many of them leave their college days knowing how to bore into a subject's open records, parse a public or private entity budget, understand what is abnormal in policy or practice within a specialty area? They're darn good with a computer, can surf like hell and network with the best of them.

Skimming across the participatory media, employing that force multiplier, is the extent of the investigative skill for too many. In part, it isn't their fault -- they're very busy being preditors and multimedia mavens to service the bitch goddess of real-time. I read and hear a lot about the travails of lost money in the traditional media to fund such work. I don't know -- nobody had to fund Sinclair.

Merry White Christmas

A crusty, cold Christmas morning here in the Ozarks. We received just over two inches, almost three, of frosty global warming overnight. For the first time, my wife was able to see "Blizzard Warning" on the TV weather bug.

Today's quite chilly 19 degrees with gusts to 25 mph should remind us that it certainly isn't warming. Not real convinced it's change, either. Why?

One of the enduring family legends was my first two Christmas days. My mother and grandmother marveled over how back in 62 and 63 it was a white Christmas in north Louisiana -- one of them bringing four inches (a huge amount) of snow.

When we moved to Fayetteville just over 20 years ago, it was a mild summer and two hard winters with lots of snow.

My point? Maybe, just maybe, these climate swings are larger cycles we've yet to understand. Some years, it's warm. Some years, it's really stormy. Some years, it's quite cold.

They call it . . . weather.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Teaching Journalism History

While proctoring the final exam for my American history students at nearby NWACC, I'm catching up on old Chronicles, notably the Journalism in Crisis edition of the Review. Carlin Romano's lead essay asking for a "Philosophy of Journalism" course is interesting, but I'm drawn to two quotes:

"Every journalism student should be required to take a course in journalism history. It's essential for young journalists to understand how our peculiar institution developed, and that it is not a natural kind -- it can be changed and reformed."

Indeed. Back in the dark ages of X-Acto knives and proportion wheels, we didn't have that course during my undergrad days. Almost a career later, I can speak with authority and experience that it is despirately needed in the standard curriculum. But, I make that point that every discipline should be forced to have that class. I say each semester to these students at NWAAC, and Neill Postman is right at the top of my syllabus: "History is a meta-subject."

Similarly, I can't fault Romano's conclusion:

"Before directing more Knight and other grants to further repetitive Twitter and Internet 'experiments,' they should support a core intellectual curriculum in journalism studies that would make a far greater difference to future excellence in the field."

Romano isn't being quite as Luddite as he sounds there (oooh, historical reference), and I am all for teaching and understanding the latest techonology. I would make this rejoinder -- just because its novel, doesn't make it "new" media. Study the past. You might find the future there.

Monday, December 14, 2009

You Said WHAT?

Picking up the paper edition of our campus newspaper and reading through a lengthy story by Jimmy Carter (no, while we do print the former president's poetry on the UA Press, he has not become a Trav sports reporter) about social media and college athletes. Specifically, Carter was talking about the extreme reactions many students and fans have on Facebook in particular. You can read the story online.

The subject was Alex Tejada, and the Razorback football place kicker's miss at LSU. Carter found a couple of people who had launched particular invective at the 20-year-old student for his missed field goal, and several who created some less than complimentary groups about Alex's performance.

I am reminded of the series of television commercials a while back in which Peyton Manning showed up at various business establishments to cheer on the workers. You can almost sense the tongue in cheekiness.

I've said it repeatedly from my own interaction with irate fans -- a lot of times they don't know there is a human on the other end of the email. John Freeman's new book (the current read on the nightstand here) is The Tyranny of E-Mail, and he speaks to my own personal experience when he writes:

" . . . there is no face on the other end to stop us in midsentence, to indicate that what we are in the process of saying is rude, not comprehended or cruel. We say what we want."

He continues with the takeway:

"Psychologists call it disinhibition, and its pervasive effect -- as can be witnessed every day in nasty comments appended to newspaper articles on line, in the aggrieved tone and intent of some blog postings in e-mail inboxes scorched by flame wars -- has turned may parts of the Internet into a nasty place."

One of the students quoted in the story provides some humanity:

Unfortunately, with social networking sites it is hard to draw the line between harassment and freedom of speech. However, it is never okay to tell someone they are worthless and they should die because of a football game.

Us old folks call that good perspective. Others, not so.

Other than that I would say the department should just be a spectator like they are at the events they cover.

Again, here's a key -- the athletic department isn't a spectator, and frankly, some of the things said would not be tolerated even in a pro venue. A spectator who indicated a player should die would be escorted out. Nor is the university a spectator. Both are parts of an educational institution, and it is incumbent upon that institution to instill some level of civility.

Another student voice from the article:

Is it wrong? Probably. Do we have a right to voice our opinion? Yes. While I understand that these groups and remarks serve no real purpose or value, they do however give us as fans a chance to “vent” our frustration in one of the only ways we can.

The student-athlete really can't win in this. If they try to acknowledge or defend, it often eggs this on. If they ignore it, sometimes it goes away; usually not.

Let me pose this another way -- would the students who so bravely called out Alex's performance enjoy Alex arriving at their classroom to hurl invective at them while they completed their final exams? To belittle their choice of answers? To start a "Joe Student Got a F and SUCKS!" Facebook group when the grades came out?

No, we'd call that inappropriate behavior. That would be unfair to a student.

Ask yourselves, is it fair to a student-athlete?

Friday, December 11, 2009

One Man's Leaker . . .

. . . is another man's journalist.

Amused to watch from a distance the East Anglia controversy over the leak of "hacked" emails regarding climate research. If it wasn't so darned significant, it would just be another example of insider academic politics aired large -- reminded of the Georgia history department document dump of a couple of years ago.

As the sides trade attacks, the first line of defense is a violation of privacy. OK, not attempting to know what goes for FOIA in the UK, but if this were an American public university, pretty sure those emails could be accessed directly under state laws. It speaks more to being careful what you put in your emails when you are at a public institution. What really hurts these professors is their inside jokes and barbs at opponents taken into the light of day reveal something they certainly did not intend as they believed they were chatting among like-minded colleagues.

When Daniel Ellsberg opened up his files to the New York Times, thus creating the Pentagon Papers crisis, he was reviled by the U.S. government for violating the 1917 Espionage Act by leaking national security documents. Ellsberg saw it as a duty:

I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public.

Somebody at East Anglica thought the same. It's possible to have hacked the email system and recovered those emails, but far more likely that someone with access did the deed -- an insider who either had their own Ellsberg moment or had been wronged and decided to go Deep Throat on his enemies.

If you want more Pentagon Papers, the Wikipedia entry is a good starting point.

Who Tells Your Bad News

A must read front page article from The Chronicle of Higher Ed this week on executive communications and the harsh economic times many universities are facing. I could not improve on Kathryn Masterson's prose:

As hard as it was to explain a shifting situation, the risks of not communicating were worse. With expectations of openness and a greater number of communications tools available, silence from the top could spur a loss of trust, a decline in morale, and the spread of misinformation about what was happening.

That's easy to say when it isn't you. Nobody likes to be wrong, and no one who has ever had to really do it likes to be the bearer of bad news. Never forget that in this business, they do not pay you for the good days; you earn your keep on the bad days.

A reinforcing shot from Vinca LaFleur, a former Presidential speechwriter, quoted in the story:

People can deal with bad news, but they want to know what's going on. If you don't give them the information, they will connect the dots, and rumors get started. Once that happens, it's hard to put the genie back in the bottle.

That is great advice; however, considering LaFleur's previous employer, slightly amusing.

The 12-points for good communication strategy in the story is pitched with the headline of a "New Brand of Communication" for leaders.

Funny. I guess spin got to be so S.O.P. that telling the truth is now some kind of hot new way of managing a crisis.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yo Solo

Thinking about the old legend of Bernardo de Galvez, the Americian Revolutionary War governor of Louisiana. Funny the things that stick with you from your youth. The heart of the story is extremely meaningful to me. The Spanish who sought to take Mobile, but the sand bar at the edge of the bay grounded a lead ship. Fear of grounding other ships led to, well, an impressive chickening out. But not Galvez, who knew it was vital to take Mobile.

Galvez commanded a ship and led it through the shoals, inspiring the rest to eventually follow and the Spanish to take the British outpost in Mobile. For his bravery, for his single-mindedness, for his ability, Galvez was rewarded with the ability to place on his coat of arms the motto -- "Yo Solo" -- I alone -- for his work.

Days like this, bring back that story. Daring individual effort. Yo Solo.

If not rewarded, at least you know that you did the task.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

It's Good to be Right

Standing line from the 2005 and 2006 network media presentations -- participatory media is a force multiplier for the legacy media. Still don't believe? Try these quick one-offs just from around our neighborhood:

When the whole early announce for the bowls went horribly awry last week, the legacy media turned to whatever proof they could find that certain schools had become associated with certain bowls. One here at Arkansas was the intrepid work to discover a deleted link on the Liberty Bowl Facebook page to a bootleg Razorback video on YouTube -- j'accuse, evidence of the bid.

Another moment -- perhaps trying too hard -- our newspaper tried to infer that because of a keystroke error by a stat person that one of our suspended players was on the bench. A bit lame, one might say, but it was born of our strong on-line fan base noticing the entry of the player's name on's stat tracker -- not even ours.

And never overlook the ability of a well-placed Tweet to cause news. Our athletic director is very keen on the concept, and when he decided to let folks know he was having dinner with the ownership of a NBA franchise about a potential preseason game in Fayetteville, it created a buzz.

Not just here, but Cincinnati football coach Brian Kelley made his release to the world that he would listen to Notre Dame last week via his Twitter feed.

Just informed our team that Notre Dame has contacted me and I will listen to what they have to say

Side note: one of those covering Kelly's tweet was the Chicago Tribune, who has a Twitter, Inc., page that is filled with similar social media news breaks.

The 140 takeaway: Ignore and avoid the social media at your own peril, because your legacy media certainly is not.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Another gap, but in part due to live blogging events at the mothership (check out the new BasketBlog entries done by yours truly and our learning new media students) and working on finding the right selection for our new media/sports production position at the university. More to come on that later.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Quick Profound Thought

Making one of those semi-annual bookmark sorts -- you know, deleting the broken, adding the new -- and it's official:

My folder of local news blogs is larger than my legacy newspaper links.

There's your sign of the times.

Friday, November 27, 2009

By the Time You Read This

We'll be well down the road toward Baton Rouge and the final regular season game of the year. More blogs later here, but don't miss the live blog from Tiger Stadium. First time for me at LSU for football, and anticipate this being a bit of an adventure.

Until I type again from the press box . . .

What is Truth?

Part two of the previous thought -- remember, that reference to having that epiphany right before the epistle. As a quick aside, am I the only person that takes out the iPhone to make notes when they think of things in church? I'm reasonably convinced the parishioners think I'm an addled internet text addict. Well, it's that or using the little children's doodle pads and the tiny golf pencils (which I do regularly).

So I'm still tumbling the idea about how to prove that we didn't just start believing friends over media because of Al Gore, and Lowell Grisham goes into a sermon on what is truth based on John 18:33-37 (the passage where Jesus is questioned by Pilate).

Lowell's an interesting Episcopal priest -- from Oxford, Miss., (I think the last name is a coincidence with the author of same surname) and we usually aren't on the same side of things politically, but he's a thought-provoker (which, after all, is what you're looking for in a priest).

So he's working Yeats ("Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold") into his sermon, and goes into this dissection of what is truth. See how that plugs into the earlier idea?

He points out that in uncertain times, "people love objective truth -- the truth of prescriptive authority." Lowell comes up with a different trinity: "Three traditions of truth confront Jesus -- the objective truth of the book; the truth that power claims; the abstract truth of the rational."

Now, to be fair, you can jump over and read where Rev. Grisham is going in the rest of his sermon. I got stuck on this truth triple.

Certainly applies to the idea of when and where we began to doubt the "objective truth" of the written word in the newspaper. Often, that media truth is in variance with the "truth that power claims" as the politician, coach, player or subject of investigation wants to cast doubt or provide a different explanation for the same facts.

So what of the "abstract truth of the rational"? Can that be the validation of the masses, the opinion of your friends, the verification from Facebook? Answer, I have not. More questions, I certainly do.

New Idea for a Research Topic

They come to me periodically, often in church or the shower (please, no side comments). Odd how this becomes a double play, but the first idea was this: surely we didn't suddenly become more trustful of our friends than the media just because social networking exists today.

Not sure how I wandered off on this, but I'm thinking about a reasonably well-quoted Annenburg School study that internet users had more trust (in the 80s%) in social connections and the interent than the legacy forms of media (all in the 60s for radio, TV and newspaper).

That little snapshot in 2007 got a lot of people -- myself included -- concentrating on social media. Lecturing to Steve Ditmore's sports management class on Tuesday allowed me to ask the question again. Granted, this was a Thanksgiving week crippled class filled with athletes and others who had no choice but to still be in Fayetteville. When asked the question about who they believed more, their friends (and really, with this crowd, their teammates) or the media about news, the answer was predictable. The reason was typical: they each had or knew of an incident of media inaccuracy.

Here's the research angle -- can that doubt in traditional legacy media today versus social media be found in the data of past surveys on the belief in the mass media? When people only talked among themselves at the coffee shop, barber's chair or beauty salon, did they have the same doubts in what they got from the media -- or was it truly a simpler time in the Age of Cronkite and we simply believed what the Big Three said?

Honestly, I don't have that clear a childhood memory of what my parents and grandparents thought of the media to gauge it, but surely we didn't get this cynical toward mass journalism in just the past five to 10 years?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Almost Normal Thanksgiving

To all my brothers and sisters stuck out in some hotel for a lovely "holiday" tournament, I salute you from here at home. For the first time in 25 years, I'm not locked into basketball today. Nice, but at the same time weird. How sick is that -- normal becomes the abnormal?

I've taken moments in the past to relay in this space about the bizarro world basketball people live. It was good to not have a looming family catastrophe as the reason to not be traveling.

Perhaps next November it will seem less unusual. In the meantime, I smell pecan pie upstairs.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Compression of Time and Space

Another personal example of Networked Media (as opposed to "new" media) from this past weekend's events with our own Paul Petrino. Head coach Bobby Petrino's brother, and UA's offensive coordinator/receivers coach, met with officials at Western Kentucky about their head coach opening Saturday evening following our Miss State game.

We all participated in his comings and goings from the Bowling Green, Ky., airport thanks to the network. The student newspaper at WKU, the Herald, had photos and video of the arrival and departure, plus the usual no comments and unnamed sources.

All came as a surprise in Arkansas, a little irony from the home of private airplane tail number tracking among the participatory and social media. Of course, it prompted questions, calls and statements, and by about 9 a.m. on Monday morning, Paul withdrew his name from consideration.

What happens next is unclear. Either Paul's decision prompted WKU to move in another direction, or Paul was given the courtesy of removing his name before word of WKU's choice got out. Regardless, there was a networked collision as a leak from Western about the new head coach hits the internet at almost the same time Paul releases his statement.

We see several takeaways here, many of them as old as PR itself.

When more than one person knows something, it isn't a secret. What changes with the message distribution enabling power of Networked Media is you best operate as if everyone knows. Not too many years ago, this visit would have transpired without the faintest of evidence it happened for several reasons. First and foremost, the local student paper would not have shifted to an on-line cycle (the Herald just did, like many student papers) and likely would not have paid that much attention to a weekend event. Even if the paper had the story, the print edition in Bowling Green would not appear for a couple of days, then required the mailing, faxing or phoning back to Arkansas of the news. By this time, it likely is judged to be no longer news worthy (hold that thought for later).

I write that past paragraph in full knowledge that I'm repeating the obvious today. We've lived that since about 2002 here with a competitive local media, an engaged participatory media fan base and a reasonably front-edge blogger contingent.

I assume in this that Western played it old school to the hilt. Someone tips the student paper, and they put their technology to work to track the story by staking out the airport (let me emphasize, you don't just happen out to the Bowling Green airport on a Saturday night). Later, WKU used the traditional "unnamed source" that was "close" to the process to get early word out they had selected a head coach. Officially, there was no comment until the media event in the afternoon, but the Associated Press did their work for them in creating interest in the press conference. As an aside, nothing fails like a press conference that none one really knows what it is about.

Back to the newsworthiness of Paul's interview. Assistant coaches that are upwardly mobile get interviews all the time. If they don't, you may not have the kind of guys you really want on your staff. That, as we say, is old news. Ten years ago, the media finds out that Paul's made this little side trip, at best it is a small note in the paper a week, maybe two weeks, after it happened thanks in part to the amount of time that has passed.

College sports remain the only truly unscripted reality show left in the American culture (certainly, the outcome of major pro sports keeps that unpredictability alive, but they're trying very, very hard to get a handle on all the other frabba jabba behind the scenes). As such, when we can all participate, we all become interested. The factors of time and space are gone -- I can be driving down I-40 in the Arkansas River valley and see pictures of our assistant coach getting off a plane in western Kentucky in near real time (frankly, going the next step to live video is nothing).

For the strategic communicator, understanding that is vital to protecting your people and/or brand.

Or, to be little more glib, keep your head on a swivel and stay frosty out there.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Greatest Big Screen Show on Earth

Years ago when Arkansas got one of the first major sized video screens, there was a considerable internal debate within the men's athletic department. I reference it that way because what I know of it was second hand.

The conscious decision was made to "downplay" the video aspects of the board in the early years because it would take away from fans watching the game. "They'll just sit there and watch the TV," was one former administrator's rule.

Frankly, I did that from my old seats, which were on the north 10 yard line, when the game was on the other end of the field. Initially, that made sense.

Fast forward to the SVG Technology Summit at Dallas Cowboys Stadium two weeks ago. That's a video board you cannot ignore, and in fact, with some seats it is way easier to watch the board that becomes larger than life than the ants that are running around on the distant floor.

It's insane how sharp, how dominant the boards are -- even run mirrored to each side to keep down the vertigo and disconnect of seeing a player run to the viewer's right on the screen while they run to the left on the field below it.

From the moment I saw it during our Southwest Classic game, I -- and others -- speculated this will kill coming to the game. As another colleague said, why would I leave my couch, my toilet, my fridge and fight traffic, drunks and other fans to attend. I can just watch my own big screen at home.

Make sense. Then I heard Frank Deford's NPR commentary on the scoreboard. He made the point that this was so massive it could actually be more of an experience, and referenced Jerry Jones.

The Jerry Jones angle -- and genius -- was explained clearly at SVG. Competing against the couch, HDTV and 50-inch home screens is by actually going bigger, steering into the skid.

Give the fans a different experience, one they cannot get on TV, cannot have with the unlimited angles. This means making sure there are more cameras, more angles, more replays, more shots by coming to the game on an even bigger screen than staying home.

The Cowboys do this in part with their quad-split replays, originally done for certain private replay usages, but now a huge stadium-only feature.

So shoot more crowd, more cheerleaders, more replays, more stories, more tailgate features in the commercial breaks -- AND have less "commercials" in the stadium. (What about that scoreboard revenue -- shift it to the digital signage elsewhere in the facility).

This mindset, with several other small points I'll break out later, add up to the "ultimate fan experience" goal of Dallas Cowboys Stadium. We must all get on board quickly, or we'll be left with video boards and half-way productions.

Once again, it's Jerry's World, and we find ourselves chasing it to keep up.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Long Time, No Post

It has been a busy couple of weeks with family obligations and work, and feel bad to have missed. Will endeavor to catch up this weekend.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Don't Get Your Phone Stolen

Especially if it is paired with your primary Twitter account. Learned this lesson the hard way today as I got distracted while leaving for Dallas and SVG's tech summit. Finished a call while pumping gas and put the phone on the top of the car. Went inside to get change to air up a tire. Pulled away from pump to air the tire.

One of two things happened. The phone got lifted while I walked into the convenience store or fell off the roof when I drove across the lot to the air pump. And got lifted there.

I remember a group of five young guys walking across the pump area, and they were hooting to each other about something. Maybe a joke. Maybe the phone they just found. Either way, when I realized what had happened about a block away and circled back -- no phone turned in to the attendant, no debris of a falling phone on the ground (which makes me think it got stolen off the top of the car while I got change), no debris in the lot, near the air pump.

Immediately, I called in to our phone person, left a message and said cut off the phone. Last call I made was at this time. And since that person didn't answer, left a message in three other places. About an hour later, got a call back that the phone was being reported stolen and the number locked.

Unfortunately, not so much. The very unfortunate Tweet hit our feed about 80 minutes or so after the phone went missing. We jumped to delink the phone -- my #1 lesson of the day for all followers of the blog is while your changing all those passwords, don't forget the linked phone doesn't need passwords -- and reset the passwords again for good measure.

Apologies again here and quick apologies sent on the same feed -- I think most people understand the hacking prank nature of this event. Have had at least one person joke that well, you've broken your own SNW policy. That will seem funny later.

Right now, I'm still trying to fathom not the theft of the phone -- I get that, they're currency -- but the sheer randomness of sending out texts to random people -- including Twitter -- for fun. Not thinking that could cost someone their job. Not thinking how that impacts lives. Just seems fun without consequence at the moment.

In spite of the assurances that the number was shut off, I know that the phone was still active as late as 4:20 this afternoon when whoever has it sent a similar obscene text to my son, who was texting me unknowing that the phone was stolen. He called my other phone to say, hey, why did you tell me to $$$$ off when I texted you.

Again, fun and games until somebody gets hurt.

I'd like to think whoever has the phone is like folks who send in really hateful emails to customer service; not thinking there is a human that reads those emails or in this case, a person who will be adversely affected by their "joke."

Guess what kids -- it ain't a joke.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Another Fast Week, Slow Blogging

Apologies all the way around, but with family obligations and another midweek business trip -- this time to SVG's venue technology summit in Dallas -- the back log of brilliant thoughts continues.

O.K., self-absorbed thoughts.

One thing I will toss in here today, if your institution is not employing National Incident Management Systems principles and forms -- notably building Individual Action Plans, or IAP's, for your big home events, you're missing out on a way to streamline operations and familiarize yourself for when the big one comes.

Everyone's big one will be different, but what I learned last week in the COML training course reinforced that.

If it's good enough for the Rose Bowl and Michael Jackson's funeral, it's good enough for your home football games.

Reminder, keep up on what your ops people are doing with N4C, and check in with your campus public safety. Likely they are being pressed to have ICS courses on campus -- notably IC-300, which can only be done in classroom for credit. Take your on-lines (100, 200, 700, 800) and be ready when that 300 course lands on your campus.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Not ExactlyThings You Want to See

Life back on the road this month with trainings, seminars and games. Just to show you never know from the outside what the hotel property looks like on the inside. Here's a couple of things you hope not not wake up to.

At right, your shower water runs with the color of ice tea AFTER letting that initial rust bloom dissipate.

And at bottom, then when you walk back to the bed to get dressed, you notice this. Let's just say that this whole recycle your linens thing, while it may reduce both a carbon footprint AND a hotel's laundry bill, is not something I have been -- and certainly not now -- in favor of.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Working Topics

On the road for communications training these next days, but reading up for a new post and some new class notes for my NWACC history students about American Exceptionalism and how that plays into westward expansion.

Yes, he can go deep.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

It Pays to Face the Music

More than a little commentary last week while I was away regarding Tim Tebow's not taking questions after the Miss State game. It was the second difficult outing for the Heisman star after surviving the Razorbacks.

This space certainly advocates making available the players the media wants -- good or bad -- and have written about the positives than can be gained by the difficulty of those moments, both for the reputation of the institution/team and for the growth of the student-athlete.

Arkansas is not without its own examples, on both sides of the ledger. Quarterback Clint Stoerner and point guard Christy Smith cemented their legends for meeting the press after historically bad events. Years later, Razorback QB Matt Jones had his own Tebow moment, which cause the invocation of Stoerner's legend.

Tebow apologized, and in a tight Heisman race, it allowed Texas Colt McCoy to go on record that he'd never duck the media.

"If you play good or you don't, you've got to talk to the media. You're the voice for all the fans, for everybody, to let them know what's going on. That's your job as a quarterback to do that."

I applaud Colt's straight forward statement, but it the further away from the events of last weekend, it rings a little too much like a calling out. Perhaps that's a tad cynical on my part.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Brace for Impact

The word has spread through networked media of the fate of many in the legacy media in Northwest Arkansas today. In the sports world, it appears that by 6 p.m. tomorrow -- and certainly seven days from now -- the number of seats occupied within the Razorback media areas will be thinned considerably.

I've found today an interesting mix of social media and new media as the consumer of an event that is not likely to be well covered by the legacy media. As a result, personal connections and network media entities like Ozarks Unbound, The Iconoclast and Fayetteville Flyer were the sources.

The commentary spots on Ozarks Unbound in particular were pretty transparent covers of dismissed staff and family members of the fired. Several re-writes on the primary story today -- not a pure RTM effort, but certainly evolving with the increase of names and info.


Elliot Madison is the new cause celeb in the RTM (Real Time Media) world for his arrest for Tweeting out information that would allow protesters in the G20 to evade police.

Was Madison reporting on the event? Or coordinating and aiding and abetting the commission of crimes?

SWAT teams rolling down 5th Ave.

Report received that police are ‘nabbing’ anyone that looks like a protester

If he worked for the New York Times, these Tweets could be purely informational. Since he is a self-proclaimed anarchist, would the authorities be reading intent into his messages?

Huffington Post made this story huge nation wide, with little detail beyond the AP brief. The New York Times (Mr. Madison is a Queens resident) and ARS Technica have more details.

This bears close watching.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Cruelest Trick or Treat

There's never a good time for layoffs, but the end-game of the northwest Arkansas newspaper war is this Saturday. According to the print reports, all staff are laid off effective Saturday, Oct. 31, with the ones that will be retained by the combined NW Arkansas Times and Morning News will learn during the last days of this week who gets to stay.

Apologies for the break

My wife, Libby, had Achilles tendon surgery 10 days ago, and son, Will, was in a car accident that left his shoulder torn up -- hoping we're not headed for an orthpaedic double -- and that's had me sidelined. Plus a big road trip to Ole Miss.

Promise that this week we'll be playing catch-up with lots of thoughts on the passing scene.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Our Twitter Event Closes

At the opening media day, Courtney Fortson addressed his Twitter statement that attracted considerable regional, some national, attention. He was direct and simple in his words:

"I regret the tweet. But you live and you learn and you move on to better things. So I have put that behind me."

Here's one of our local newspaper's coverage for another view.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More on FTC Blogger Regs

Slate weighs in today with a counter-point to a lot of the initial postings regarding the new Federal Trade Commission rules. Is Slate implying that the FTC is going after the blogosphere as a back-handed way of protecting legacy media?

Coming Next: Enemies List

Obama's communications team is rushing into the age of partisan media, full speed. The White House Communications Director Anita Dunn has declared war (perhaps, fatwa) on Fox News, and did so while currying favor with FNC arch-rival CNN. The money quote:

And that’s fine, but let’s not pretend they’re a news network the way CNN is

Dunn continued later to say:

We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent. As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.

Countdown to Nattering Nabobs of Negativism? We have fully reversed course from the Nixon White House, who decried the "liberal" media. The current administration lashes out against the "conservative" media.

Aside from delicious historical reversal -- really people, some things don't change much, the White House is lashing out at its most effective critics (recall how much the Bush White House loved HuffPo) -- what do we make of this? Perhaps the New York Times shows us the way:

Don’t pick a fight with people who like to fight. -- reportedly Roger Ailes, head of FNC, quoted to the NYT

Before we start handing out Peabodys, let's pause and remember that CNN recently devoted a fact checking segment to a comedy sketch by Saturday Night Live. Apparently SNL went a little over the top in picking fun of Obama's resume.

Let me see if I follow the logic. The news organization that's overly critical of the government -- not legit. The news organization that picks on comedians who are critical of the government -- "a news network" to quote the White House.

As Max Brantley aptly points out in his Arkansas Blog, time to worry when Jon Stewart becomes the fact checker of the fact checkers. (Stewart: "You fact checked a comedy sketch? . . . Did you also discover that sharks live in water and don't deliver candy grams?")

Or maybe, simply, it's a clear sign of the coming information apocalypse.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Blog Post Number Coincidence?

For those traditionalists in public relations, I think not. Very interesting piece on the Obama rapid response team from Time. Explains a bit of how they have shifted into attack mode rather than fact check or convince mode.

Speaking of White House spokesman Robert Gibbs in the piece:
White House officials offer no apologies. "The best analogy is probably baseball," says Gibbs. "The only way to get somebody to stop crowding the plate is to throw a fastball at them. They move."

In many ways, this reflects my earlier points that we continue to move away from the Age of Cronkite back into the age of advocacy, well on the edge of a "golden" age of partisan journalism unlike anything previously seen during the Yellow or Muckraker periods. I say golden in quotes because it took an Upton Sinclair months, if not years, to have an impact; a H.L. Mencken could only touch so many Americans from his east coast paper columns.

Imagine their power with the time and space crushing ability of the networked media.

Not sure whether to shudder or cheer. Know this much, if you plan on wading in, better be more than right or one risks a reaction not only from the media, but the order of magnitude power of social media amplification.

Or to quote more ancient advice: They sow the wind, and they reap the whirlwind.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Crowd Sourcing Experts

Working on a story about a particular company or industry and you need a source? No further away than the new social networking site HARO (Help A Reporter Out).

Experts -- register to help; journalists -- can fish for assistance.

Interesting concept. There are separate interfaces -- one for the writer and one for the source.

May Change Everything

Remember the old payola scandals of the 1950s (or, as recent as the late 1990s with some DJs) in which record labels were paying money directly to radio station personnel to play certain records more than others?

FTC has weighed in this week to say that bloggers fall under the same guidelines. Quoting from today's WOMMA newsletter:

On Monday, the FTC revamped its "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." Bloggers are now officially part of the marketing and advertising game. They must adhere to disclosure rules or face fines up to $11,000. These changes may affect your favorite blog or not. Many bloggers who were accepting gifts and/or payments openly disclosed this to their readers prior to Monday. But those who didn't should change their policy ASAP.

So if you're getting free Starbucks to drop them into your Tweets or blogs, you'll need disclose or get a visit from the feds. Think we're kidding? This from Ad Age's website:

Within the text of the new rules, the FTC gives many hypothetical scenarios, including that of a college student who maintains a "blog where he posts entries about his gaming experiences." If that student receives a console from a gaming company and posts a review, "the blogger should clearly and conspicuously disclose that he received the gaming system free of charge."

So much for those 30K Tweets.

We ask these questions now. If you get Adobe educational discount software working at a college and mention them in blogs, disclose?. If you get free swag from your athletic department's apparel contract and say nice things about your running shoes, disclose? Company car? Other allotments? WOMMA ads this extra note about how the FTC ruling may end the era of the pro blogger and bring back more amateurs. Scary side note, that links back to the old home town paper.

Worms, exit can, stage right.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

This Just In

Ryan Mallett just scored another touchdown; no, not really, but it seems like he's still scoring along with the Razorbacks even though the game ended two hours ago.

As we kill time loading video in the main website, I would imagine that Dallas Cowboys Stadium must be an awesome experience for the fans.

Little difficult, however, to blog from this odd press box angle. Much rather be home at DWRRS.

Oh wait, that's coming up next. Tiggers on Saturday A.M.

Off to the Cabana -- let's hear it for 24 hour drive through.

Could This be True?

Media has noticed that no social networking primary websites -- Twitter, Facebook -- are accessible on the Dallas Cowboys wireless network. They are blocked websites. Could that be true? Is that NFL policy in the press box?

Twitter is News, Not Journalism

Maybe that's the point as I read through some more academic posturings about the end of days as a result of the internets. When scholars and Pulitzer prize masthead newspapers cluck about how you can't possibly do journalism on Twitter, this is the point they miss.

Most people read or watch news. News is what effects their daily lives. News is what they also now get from their friends and family through social media outlets. And survey after survey says, they trust the news they get from people the know more than those that they don't.

Twitter helps make that possible.

Case in point last night there was a terrible accident back home in Fayetteville as the arch-rival Springdale football team headed to Harmon Field for I think the 102nd meeting of the Purple Dogs and Red Dogs. The SHS Bulldogs had a bus roll over in a ditch, injuring a couple of players, but resulting in the cancellation of the game.

I knew that in real time at the media reception hosted by the Cotton Bowl here in Arlington. I was able to relay that to media members here, and when my wife called -- who was in Fayetteville -- able to fill her in on details she didn't have. She was able to tell me they game had been rescheduled for today, something that was still in doubt via my sources.

Who was my source? My well constructed Twitter feed of the local newspaper, the local on-line group and the three local TV stations. Each had a piece of the puzzle -- although it wasn't until after the 10 PM casts that I got the details on how the wreck happened and where from the TV stations as they tend to withhold their breaking news until they have given it out on their primary medium (more on that later).

So the news found me and my iPhone. It was the real-time reporting that is rapidly becoming critical for multimedia success.

When I get back home, I'll want to know more and I'll read the long-form articles about what and why and who and how. But if I had not became engaged with the story through the breaking news, would I have really given much time to the follow-up, to the "journalism"?

No. I'd have scanned the headlines and moved on. If time permits later today, I may read those stories on-line before I get back home on Sunday. But my interest is piqued, and I'll pull out my broadsides to read tomorrow night.

The news is the key. Getting it. Reporting it. Engaging the consumers in it. The collective needs to remember that while they worry about journalism.

On the Road Again

Ah yes, Taco Cabana. If you want to know the one thing I miss the most from the Southwest Conference, and the excuses to go to Texas, it is the Cabana. Think In-and-Out for Tex-Mex -- a highly regional, virtually single-state chain of some of the most awesome fast food around.

I grew up in Monroe not thinking of New Orleans like many of my friends, but focused on Dallas. The siren call of the Big D an easy five hours straight down I-20. I cut my teeth on urban driving negotiating the tight on-ramps and aggressive "Texas lane changes" of North Central Expressway. SMU was my alternate college of choice coming out of high school (followed in order by Hawai'i-Manoa and Slippery Rock).

Remembering how no one would ever live out on the I-635 loop -- what a boondoggle -- it seems today the traffic begins at the Red River. That part has become a bit unmanageable as Dallas becomes like Houston in interstate sprawl.

Getting back to some road notes -- if you have an iPhone and drink their coffee, the new Starbucks app is a must, the perfect echo-locator for the bean crazed. Yesterday's shower was the coldest hot shower I've ever had in a major hotel change (wide open, still tepid) and was complete with Cloverfield-like sound effects as the piping shuddered.

Yes, JerryWorld is a massive on the outside as it appears on television; perhaps even more so. And we're pleased to report, there is a brand new Wal-Mart directly across the street. That's just to clarify again for any of the old SWC era folks that Arkansas still rules.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

DMN Columnist Adds

Kevin Sherrington brings together the threads of the last few days in the social media universe in his column today.

Well worth the read.

The Pros Limit SNW

Or, as the traditional media screamed today, "NBA BANS TWITTER."

No, the NBA put in some reasonable limits on the usage of social media, and they are just following along the guidelines established by the NFL.

The guidelines first; media hysteria second. ESPN's coverage today.

The NBA said no team member or individual within the organization directly involved in the team's participation in the contest can utilize SNW in a window of 45 minutes prior to tip through the conclusion of postgame media responsibilities. This is similar to the NFL's rules.

Contrary to GMA, this does not include Mark Cuban. Club personnel, including some on the bench, are not restricted. Coaches, players, trainers -- in other words, the people involved in the game who might need to concentrate more on the contest than on their tweets.

The blackout -- it doesn't seem right to call it a ban -- applies to all portable communications devices, including cell phones. David Stern knew what he was doing; Shaq can't call a personal assistant to relay a tweet.

The memorandum does not say if it applies to the team official SNW feeds -- or to The_Real_Stern. More to come there.

Let us transition from the distraction part of this (remember, several teams like the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks had made similar rulings earlier in the week) blackout to the media hype surrounding it.

Why is it a "ban", and why the focus on one brand name, "twitter"? Humble opinion -- cause large parts of the legacy media in equal parts misunderstand and despise Twitter.

The anti-Christ of media industry travail are those darn internets and interwebs. We may all like the ability of everyone to be equally connected to everyone else to go away, for Shaq to not have a follower base as large as one of the top five national newspapers in the United States. For Shaq to be reportedly offered as much as $30K for a single product Tweet.

With the leagues getting involved -- remember, NFL was in on this first -- and making the blackout last until after post event media conferences, it begins to look more like an embargo than a ban.

Nothing is going to prevent Shaq from giving his opinion of the game direct to his followers; it will simply delay it. Its the American version of Lance Armstrong giving the thumbs to European cycling media by sending out his injuries and comments to his list first. Except when Lance got the personal backlash of less coverage, the leagues are stepping in to prevent that by providing a protected window for the media.

Will this mean that Cleveland Plain-Dealer's reporter can message out a quote from Shaq in the locker room or media postgame event, but Shaq can't? Stay tuned for that battle.

The NFL's ban goes into this by locking down "any third parties representing" players, coaches or game ops personnel.

Dewayne Wade, a man with his own six-figure following, puts it all in perspective:

"When you come to work, you come to work. You can tweet before, you can tweet after. "

Well said.

Texas Twitter

Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach has sailed once again into uncharted territory, this time banning the use of Twitter with some fairly harsh criticism of those who employ the microblogging system. To pick up a quote from ESPN:

"a bunch of narcissists that want to sit and type stuff about themselves all the time. We'll put mirrors in some of their lockers if that's necessary but they don't have to Twitter."

According to Tech colleagues, the Red Raiders don't have an athletic department policy on Twitter and their academic area has one regarding Facebook. Leach addressed the situation as violations of team rules, well within his prerogative as the head football coach. While we might suggest that a standing policy is better, our own policy is grounded in the same basic idea.

Personally, I think what Leach did was not terribly progressive, but let me be clear -- he's the coach and its his team. He can do what he wants by "banning" his team from participating, but I would remind him of another college athletic name: Laing Kennedy.

Kennedy? Bueller?

Anyone recall the hue and cry, the Ohio ACLU threatened lawsuit, the national sensation set off by Kennedy and Kent State's proclamation that no Golden Flash would be allowed to post on Facebook. Remember it like yesterday because it came days before one of my major presentations at CoSIDA about this new fangled thing called social networking. His June 22 edit was to become effective Aug. 1, 2006, before the start of the fall semester, and ostensibly was for the protection of the student-athletes.

Remember, this was in the wake of the Northwestern soccer team scandal on, and before some of my own research on why SNW was important for student-athletes assimilation into college and would represent stripping away a key support system through connection to their home communities.

We were in the brave new world of these students daring to say things and show things about their lives to all their friends, and the s looked on in horror. Kennedy backed off his hard-line ban, but that didn't stop some other schools from trying, most with little or no success. Today, education and guidelines are the path for both students and student-athletes in SNW.

Fast-forward to last week's Tech loss to Houston, and the unfortunate comments of a couple of Red Raider players. One lamented his senior year was headed south fast; the other opined about what he perceived as a lack of timeliness of his head coach.

Hey kids, when you get your Tech degrees and go out into the real world, don't try to narc on your boss. It's not losing your Tweets; it's called losing your job.

There will always be someone turning this into a First Amendment issue, which in my humble opinion it is not as much as it is the right of free associative groups to determine the standards of behavior within those private organizations. Free speech always has a price.

But is Leach wrong? No. Twitter isn't for everyone. Not every coach in America is looking to have 500,000-plus followers. In communication (and recruiting), it's just a tool. If you want to see a little of his side of the story, jump here and go to the bottom of the page for the video. We would encourage Leach to know that even though he told all his guys to dump the pages, not so hard for everyone to see them (we certainly learned that and did our best to share that tidbit with the community).

Is he right? Let me get out my self-absorbed mirror to bask in the radiance of my own prose . . . . .

Seriously, I would not recommend banning SNW. They are students. They are young people. They are learning. They will make mistakes. It's our jobs to educate and guide them.

What I do find interesting is Mack Brown's comments in the ESPN first-day coverage of Leach's decision:

Texas coach Mack Brown said he thought it would be against the law to tell players they can't use social networking sites like Twitter, MySpace and Facebook.

Granted, that's a paraphrasing by the ESPN author, but Brown's not without issue here. It was barely a year ago at UT that Buck Burnett got the heave-ho from the Longhorns for violation of team rules. Most media ascribed his violations of team rules to the back-up center's unique perspective on the Presidential race, posted on his Facebook account. He's since transferred to Abilene Christian.

Another side story: this account noted that one of the Tech players was promoting his new album set to come out in October, something we here at Arkansas and those at Kansas also learned is a NCAA no-no.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Another Sign of the Apocolypse

Internet advertising purported to exceed television advertising spending in the UK, according to Mashable.

OK, but how much advertising is available to spend with the BBC regulation of the medium? Don't know if that undercuts the validity of the data.

Could be like saying spending by cigarette manufacturers on NASCAR exceeds American television back when the Winston Cup was sponsored. But that was because advertising was banned on TV.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Brave New (J-School) World

Catching up on my Chronicle's while the NWACC class takes a test, I'm struck by two quotes in the Sept. 25 edition's story on the re-invigoration of J-School thru new media.

Michael Bugeja of Iowa State:
"Too often, when the technology is overemphasised in the curriculum, it gives the impression that you can do journalism sitting down in your pajamas. You can't do that."

I agree with the first half of that quote, but I've done some of my best work in pajamas; and on behalf of the great unwashed, a lot of important stuff overlooked or tut-tutted away by trained journalists has become rather significant. Let's chalk that one up, perhaps, to a well-intentioned thought that got away in the process of becoming part of an article.

Christopher Harper of Temple
"There's not a great future in working in mainstream media. The future is for smart, hard-working students to band together, create their own media and make a business out of it -- and that's what a lot of them are doing."

Some may, or may not, be wearing PJs.

Enrollment is up across the country, and I'm a little concerned about why. As one prof in the piece noted, leaving with $30K in student debt doesn't make sense for a $25K intro local reporting job.

Let me be clear, Bugeja is spot on -- when university becomes nothing more than an Adobe certification training center, well, we're toast in two ways. First, you're teaching a specific tool, not concepts. What happens when the whole thing changes again? Second -- and I've pointed this out repeatedly -- when the heart of the program is vocational -- teaching a task or skill -- it stops being a curriculum.

Finding that balance between the classic skills and adapting them to the current technology is the trick.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hey Steve Jobs

3.1 software for the iPhone -- it blows.

Watched three colleagues have the full restore; now I'm getting the full restore.

More like getting the full Monty.

I like the phone, but this constant jerking around the software components -- from the 7.x windows crash special in iTunes, the rapid patch to 8.1 and the same total rebuild to get to ready on 3.0 iPhone.

At least this time I saw it coming. Got to go, my phone just ate it again.

Thanks again.

Moving to the Present Tense

Getting into the moment is difficult when your past has been providing coverage. However the internet increasingly is a here and now medium, with a hint of the future. To that end, we're trying to adapt to more live events, more original digital and more posting created to emphasize what's "on" right now.

Good example this weekend was having what we'd call advance stories in the past going live on game day morning, or having a re-write with a focus on today. I'm finding the reflexive action of putting up the advance when it's sent out on the media list and as a "promo" for a game tomorrow or the next day leading to a frustration from website users that come to the page wanting to know what is going on today.

Simplistic as it seems, we need more of a network vibe. Maybe part of the answer in our upcoming rebuild is going to an "on the air" button that toggles on when there is either streaming or home event activity that would redirect a person to a live event or game day central.

Changing mindsets begin at the base level. Write present and active prose, you'll tend to think present and active. Nothing grinds more than one of these "the MascotHere TeamName will be hosting OpponentHere" ledes. Simply and presentize (oh, that's bad slang): "MascotHere TeamName hosts OpponentHere."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Game Day Remote

Working our way through the first road football game in our new arrangements. Appreciate the feedback via blog and Twitter on what to do when you're not in the press box. The consensus was on SNW, the given is not being there isn't the negative it would be in the traditional media days.

That said, I can't see going full bore blog without being on the ground. We will keep our distant Twitter fans updated, and handle all the postgame posting from here at the worldwide HQ of the the Hogs.

For those scoring, 3950+ Twitter followers, 22K+ Facebook and almost 7,000 iHog downloads -- not a bad starting point.

NYT on Tebow's World

One wonders at what point will be become bored with SNW. When the titillation of coed trying to get her topless picture with Tim Tebow is such a yawn that they stop trying.

For his and the rest of college athletics stars, I hope it's soon. The New York Times recently ran an eye-opening piece (College Stars Run for Cover from Fans' Hidden Cameras) that makes you ponder the apocalypse:

While shopping recently at RadioShack, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was approached by a woman with a seemingly innocuous request to take a picture with him. But an instant before her mother snapped the photo with a cell phone camera, the woman tried to take off her shirt.

Um, that's right, before her mother took the picture . . . .

I keep hoping, like the streaking craze, this will pass. Kind of a milder version of the movie, Murder.Com, but as long as we keep clicking in to look, they will keep trying to post more and more lurid things.

Folks, let's keep it in perspective. Even if they are the head personalities of multi-million dollar athletic programs, and the focus of the hopes and dreams of the YourMascotNameHere Nation, they are nominally amateurs, college students and somebody's son/daughter/significant other.

Well, maybe not Tebow.

Tebow said that he could not go on a date because pictures would be on the Internet in 10 minutes.

That's a sad commentary on the fan base in general. Give these kids some space. You had it when you were in school.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Film Validates

Paul Greenberg of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reinvigorates the old chestnut of a picture being worth a thousand words as he discusses the recent episode of takedown journalism practiced against a standing American institution.

His two word catch phrase about the relationship between writing and imaging: film validates.

The editorial is quality, drawing on his own experience during the civil rights movement of how no matter the articles, it was the disturbing photographs during the Little Rock Nine and other events like Bull Conner's televised police riot.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Original Pay Wall

With more media outlets considering the return of subscription models for on-line content, I am reminded of this very simple picture.

The door of the newsbox is the original pay wall. You paid your quarter, you got your content. At no time was the news "free" from the traditional newspaper, even with advertising support.

PR Gesture at Best

There are two proposals before the NCAA regarding collegiate press guides, one from the SEC to remove the media guide from the permissible items; one from the Pac-10 to eliminate media guides.

One of the proposals is workable; one of them is fantasy.

Guess which is which?

There is a place for paper in everyone's media strategy, and anyone who thinks that paper will go away simply has not been reading the studies. Paper consumption continues to rise, and the creation of "e-media" guides will not stop that.

Colleges that have dropped their media guides unilaterally have that right. They chose their strategy. What they should not have is the ability to compel others to follow their path.

At almost every school in Division I, printing costs are less than one percent of the overall athletic budget. That number isn't thrown out when the tens of thousands in "savings" are touted.

These are a pair of good articles through the NCAA to cover the various points in the debate, but let me add a few here.

Media relations isn't going to see its time saved by not putting out media guides. Who in the world do you think is going to have to keep up that old print-based file AND the on-line edition? Twice the work for a while. The perpetual media guide also brings its own tremendous difficulties.

The costs for quality new media are sometimes an order of magnitude greater than print. They are a time sink. They can be a money pit. And good luck coming up with effective limits in this area as the genie is well out of the bottle.

Carbon footprint? Costed out those servers, computers, etc?

How exactly does one "ban" media guides? If we decide to create printed almanacs to keep up with our critical records, will that somehow be illegal? What about the growing market for the athletic department annual report? What is a media guide, and what is an annual or yearbook created for fans?

Do we really want to cede the specialty printing market to third parties? If the Pac-10 rule passes, many institutions -- this one included -- stands to lose. Right now, we have a paid circulation of 10,350 for a football guide, thanks to the Razorback Foundation gift system. Many other schools pay for a large portion of their total printing budget through the sale of only football guides.

If we support the SEC proposal -- removing the media guide from the permissible list for recruits -- the whole canard of the recruiting media guide ends. But schools can continue to produce the printed materials either their fan base desires (and pays for) or their media needs.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why I Love Solitaire

As a child, I sat at the the kitchen table with my grandmother while she passed the time with solitaire. She taught me to play her two versions of the game, one she called "Christmas tree" and her unusual version of the regular game.

To this day, there is no portable device I've owned that I didn't find a way to acquire the game. On the airplane, standing in lines, when there is a spare moment -- pop out the solitaire.

I was thinking yesterday why I had such a enjoyment for a game that is ultimately stacked against you. I realized it is the perfect game for media relations people. Why? You know that nine times out of 10 you cannot win the game. The goal is to do the best you can with the cards you've been dealt.

This is why I really love the game. It is a perfect exercise in making the best of what is presented.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Not Just College Athletes

Following up on Sunday's local Twitter event, we share with the group this from Sports Info Business and the unfortunate series comments by Washington Redskins rookie linebacker Robert Henderson. Henderson is winding up the fans with some direct to followers comments regarding the motivation of "half hearted Skins fans."

Sports Info Business hits the mark with the catch line "Twitter=Microphone." Nothing in the media training for NFL teams would lead even a rookie to think the kind of comments Henderson had would be OK to a reporter's recording device.

The difference as we've tried to emphasis in social media -- you are your own editor, and there is no one you can blame for misquoting. I think that "Twitter=Microphone" line has perfect pitch.

Read more at the Sports Info Business blog.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thanks for the Kind Comments

Via our sports marketing prof Steve Dittmore here at UA, this post from Ultimate Sports Insider, which is Michael Cross, the executive associate AD at Princeton.

The Three P's

Burst of energy after a long week heading up to the first Fayetteville football game, but this one came to me in the customary place -- the shower -- this morning.

Our jobs are radically changing, but I see the new roles emerging for the college sports publicity expert falling into three areas:

Promotion -- Protection -- Preservation

Uh, where's the publicity? It's a mind-set that I'm afraid is trapping the current best of practice in the old "SID" world. Going out and seeking publicity, frankly, isn't that hard. Working the phones, writing a few press releases -- that's very 20th century now.

I'm favoring promotion. Creating the publicity release remains a staple, but one has to be ready to promote the story within your own media vehicles, get it to your traditional media followers, cross index and link it within social media settings.

The publicity message may be written, but it's likely encompassing of two or more media formats -- visual still, visual motion, audio, streaming, data form.

Last night, I had management of the two Twitter feeds and a live blog. At the same time, I needed to be ready to finish our "AP" style game story, create and link to it our statistical reports and presentations (the data), coordinate with our video folks for the postgame capture of the coach's press conference, link it with the replays of the game in audio and video, PLUS send out links to participatory media sites, email some of this material to legacy media groups.

Today I needed to make sure we were moving forward with our youth initiative by getting in coloring entries and pushing out the new ones, check with my graphic art student about the next wallpapers for this week's game.

All of this in pursuit of promoting our football team. A long way from writing the game story and faxing a box score.

What about protect? Here's the traditional public relations director part of our jobs that we have not done as aggressive a job in promoting the skill set associated with a trained media director. It is the obvious -- protecting the integrity of the brand you work with, having crisis plans ready and being willing to use them, having a sense of the public by using metrics to gather meta data but also an ability to sort that for the relevant anecdotal evidence.

This is one reason why I created the panel at this past summer's CoSIDA Convention with Lou Marciani from National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security. The SIDs were on the outside of the Incident Command looking in, and I hope there are some other members of our profession who will volunteer to staff up a CoSIDA committee on this very important part of our jobs.

To that end -- how many of you are involved right now in your institutions' H1N1 business continuation plans, FEMA or campus mandate emergency plans?

The last P could be the longest lasting because if we don't Preserve the records, the images, the data, the recordings of our institution's activities; we will wake up one day in the future and discover that the legacy of a great event or moment has literally disappeared.

Everything we do is some mix of these 3 Ps -- usually it's in the order above, but get into crisis mode and promotion can take a fast back seat to protection and preservation.

As usual, the board is open for comments.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Those Who Want the Policies

We've had more than a few people in the business seeking copies of our social networking policies. There are three parts -- a SNW policy for student-athletes, a SNW policy for staff and coaches and a confidential and proprietary information (CPI) policy that applies to all.

Send emails to my university account and we'll send them back to you.

Guilt by Twitter

Followers of the blog know that impact of social networking on athletes is a main subject, and I am sure many of you were waiting for comment regarding our own situation here at Arkansas.

Obviously, the coaches and department had to run their course, and those that have kept up in the media know we have not commented on names specifically. I'll honor that here, and say that when it is your school involved, you may not be as free to comment as when it is another.

Here's the extent of what I'm comfortable with today -- we had an athlete make an unfortunate comment on a social networking website. I have not spoken with him directly, but I believe that given what happened, he would just as soon take it back.

Regrettably, on Twitter, that's not possible.

Going back to 2004's presentation, I have preached (and that's an accurate verb choice) that once posted, always available. All that got in the way of recovering previous posts, memos, emails, photos stored on-line, etc., was the amount of forensic skill required.

Since it is a very text message oriented interface, the recovery skill needed to get old Tweets is zero. Three or four websites will do it for you.

For my fellow college media relations professionals, I cannot stress to you enough the need to get that message across to your student-athletes, your coaches, your administrators, your spokespersons. Think not twice, but thrice, before Tweeting. You really can't take it back.

This is not to say that it was not appropriate to remove an offensive or mistaken Tweet (I've done that when I've gotten a score or fact wrong). Just know that anyone can get it, and now you've got two questions to answer -- why did you Tweet that, and all the circumstances around why you removed it.

That's a technical point. What I wanted to implore you to also make sure your student-athletes understand is this cautionary tale from Arkansas. One young man who made a comment was not by all accounts involved in the event he commented upon. But because he did, virtually everyone falsely accused him of participation. He is now guilty by Tweet.

There has been plenty of follow-up coverage on this issue in our regional media, but the fact remains that with some who may have dropped the story after it first broke may still think this individual was involved; not simply a commentator.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wondering Out Loud

Last night, I posed a pair of thoughts to my Twitter feed regarding "tweet-iqutte" on news. Is it considered permissible to remotely report via a feed?

This follows on some Jay Rosen items in which the noted NYU scholar appears to support the idea that there's no such thing as journalism in the real-time medium; that it is source material which lacks the analysis to be labeled as reportage.

I got several quick responses to the questions -- should you tweet something if you're not there and should you re-tweet texts you received from events -- and those have led me into another direction from my original line of thinking. (And, I sincerely thank those guys for the feedback.)

Pure Age of Cronkite Journalism (yeah, old time hockey; Eddie Shore!) would say its not permissible to sit back at the newsroom and listen to the game on the radio and write a game story; particularly with an on-site byline. Certainly, the professional leagues remain committed to the concept ( . . . the descriptions of this telecast may not be used without the expressed written consent . . . ).

Fast-forward to the participatory media of today, which appears to urinate on Eddie Shore to keep a cliche rolling. Fans gather together on message boards to interact on what they are seeing. Our sports management prof at the UA, Steve Ditmore, makes a good point about Twitter -- its a gathering for a conversation.

On to part two question, which is that I cannot be at road soccer and home volleyball at the same time. Yet our feed provides updates from both, thanks to staff members who are texting the info back. Does that make an athletic department's official feed a kind of AP for its teams, the central clearinghouse for updates?

Next weekend, I obviously won't be in Tuscaloosa, and it doesn't seem appropriate to do a live blog off the television for our football game. Or is it? Am I stuck back with Reggie Dunlap trying to recreate a golden age of information that has passed?

An inquiring mind wants to know.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

But Explain the Apples

Jay Rosen earlier in the week repeated a nifty little meme he picked up about Twitter: calling it journalism is like calling the Farmer's Market a restaurant.

On first pass, I found that interesting. A point well made -- don't confuse the finished product of well-reasoned, carefully assembled high-end journalism with the rapid fire individual info bombs of the medium.

Then with a couple of days worth of reflection -- the very thing Rosen was saying there should be more of in this info world -- I believe I'll call Bill Smith.

What about the apples? Sometimes, the food you get at the Downtown Fayetteville Farmer's Market is perfect without any adornment.

There is place for real-time reporting -- occasionally it is all you need. Doing it well, keeping the story moving, providing context as an event unfolds; this is genuine journalism work.

Do you remember who Herb Morrison was? I'll admit to googling his name to make the point.

Let's turn it around. Do you remember "oh the humanity"?

So wasn't Herb a journalist performing real-time reporting for all time?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Obviously, Busy

A quick note -- as many of you may have read, we're having a SNW event right here at Arkansas.

I'll ask your patience until this is resolved.

In the meantime, I'll repeat an important piece of advice I have given in many a presentation -- in our digital world on-line; once posted, always available somewhere.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Interesting Perspective on Reality

Buried deep inside G. Anthony Gorry's essay on Empathy in the Virtual World in The Chronicle of Higher Ed was a pair of interesting passages.

"Digital technology has fostered a radical egalitarianism that has displace the authorities that were traditionally empowered to cultivate and guide our feelings for one another. It has made Muses of us all."

At first blush, Gorry stands in fear of Robespierre and the storming of society's Bastille. His piece at the same time laments the dissolving of hierarchy, bordering on a fear of the masses. It berates "a flood of fragments, which can inform us of much but can teach us little."

That bit is just titillation for kicker:

"Will false identities free us to conceal our intentions, to pursue our own selfish interests more aggressively? It would be deeply distressing if digital technology, which offers so many opportunities for liberation, liberated some of our worst inclinations and behaviors from existing social restraints."

Without saying it, Gorry helps support my longstanding position that screen names feed the worst in behaviors; we say and do things we might never do without the purported mast of anonymity. We inevitably regret those things when that mask is torn away, and identities revealed.

It is a far better world in which we allow each other to have opinions, including strong ones, rather than the skulking about in the shadows of pseudonym, rumor and innuendo.

Regrettably, our society is more inclined to support that type of behavior than respect an honest disagreement; to enable sniping over the duel.

Gorry closes with another meme that I could not pass up:

"We may have to jettison old habits of thought and avoid a debilitating yearning for the past. As McLuhan argued, we cannot drive into the future looking in the rear view mirror. But we can remember the road we have traveled. Our traditions embody much from our past that is important to our society, and we should find them anchros in the digital flood."

Reminds me of some earlier posts on the future of journalism teaching (on creative destruction | Jay Rosen weighs in | John Dvorak's take | the iMedia concept at WKU) -- honor the past, but stride confidently into the future.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Considering Future Initiatives

First week of football season consumes a lot of time, and it refocuses one's attention on the immediacy of tasks at hand. One of those tasks is building out staff to meet the growing needs of new media at our school -- and thinking about what that means globally.

Of the major athletic conferences, the Big 10 and the SEC currently have the most elaborate and far-reaching rights and networking arrangements. Both limit what the institution can do, some things directly and some things by sheer efficiency.

Taking a nod from our colleagues at Big 10 websites, I can foresee more original digital content needed for SEC members with the debut this past weekend of the SEC Digital Network. For several years, a staple of most websites was football game replays. The new SEC system can mount the replay faster and more efficiently than we can hope to achieve. This isn't to say we won't continue to have that replay, but it shows us that our production efforts are better spent in other areas.

Speaking of, we are looking for a few good interns to begin to learn the process of new media production and have advertised as such on campus. Just as in the past where interested students would come by the SID office, now we look for those same motivated individuals to become part of production units doing switching and graphics. I've got a few in hand to sort, and thankfully its an open week.

Monday, September 07, 2009


I've got one word for you, son.



Call it the plastics of the 21st century. As work begins for the next generation of official website here at Arkansas, what I'm most struck by in looking at ourselves and peers is the inability to get what you want, when you want it.

Every coach, every fan, every administrator has their own point of view, dare I say agenda. No one's website is working unless the sport, the athlete, the story of their interest isn't front and center whenever they come to the site.

This is an impossibility to achieve in the two-dimensional Flatland of the HTML/CSS based world. Even difficult in the layered new interfaces using Air.

So I'm starting to turn my attention back to something basic -- as in improved search. What if on the front page, the most important, most prominent part of the website was the search bar -- thus putting the end user one, perhaps two, steps away from what they want at any time?

Crazy in college athletics? Maybe. But what is the primary part of the most used interfaces for our target groups -- recruits and fans? Facebook, iTunes, Google, even Bing. And what's at the heart of all of them -- search.

More thoughts later.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Today's Update on the Merger

More details on the end of the media world as we know it in the Northwest Arkansas.

The Morning News' story || Northwest Arkansas Times || Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The perspectives are very similar, but there seems to be quite a bit of subtext as one would suspect.

Fond Memories of North Little Rock

Strolling through the lobby space of the now Wyndham in North Little Rock, I remember what's now a quarter century ago when this was the Hilton. A young senior journalism student and his fiancee made their way to the regional Sigma Delta Chi/Society of Professional Journalists convention. Picking up a pair of first place awards -- one for photography, one for sports column writing -- and thinking the gig as the sports editor of the twice-a-week Ouachita Citizen could last forever.

I don't remember the column, but I still have the picture. It was of a white student manager at one of our hometown high schools, reaching out his hand to console an inconsolable black football player sitting on the bench. Monroe had been desegregated not quite a half a generation in the high schools when that picture was taken, and it had special emotional meaning. Here was a young kid, maybe 10 years old, who clearly idolized the player and hurt for him in the way we do when our heroes have come up short; a scene that could not have taken place a decade earlier.

That picture is journalism at its best, and a reason why I still take time to write this blog on the changes in the field. It's also why I've gone to bat to help create a program that might inspire and instruct the next senior, who can head to the SPJ (no longer any SDX) to take that award home, maybe in new media rather than newspaper.

We'll see how that works out. Change is difficult.