Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Perhaps it is because this was always, from 1980 to now, an area that I firmly believed was never any business of the NCAA, but I dance tonight on the grave of rule 13-5-A and dozens of other picayune rules that existed not as much to "level" the playfield as increase the bureaucracy.
13-5-A, which will eliminate restrictions on sending printed recruiting materials to recruits. Conferences still will be prohibited from sending printed recruiting materials.
So fire up the printing presses, fellas. We can only hope the byzantine restrictions on page count, color and customization are next.
Why? Because it is the -- dare I say -- First Amendment right of a university to recruit for students with whatever tools they choose. And if Missouri wants to put a Vogue-like fashion spread of it's NIKE gear in the football guide, if Texas or Notre Dame want phone book scale guides, it is not any business of the University of North Carolina.
If a smaller institution wants to put it's eggs in the single basket of a high-turbo media guide, it's up to them to decide if that's good or bad.
And if the administration of one institution thinks it is foolish that others "waste" - be that green the folding kind or the save the earth kind - then here's a shocking revelation.
Don't do what the Jones do.
Similarly, the NCAA is recognizing that the communications world has past them by. That students REALLY do want to text communicate rather than use a dead technology to them like voice or email. Thus also gone this week:
13-3, which will eliminate restrictions on methods and modes of communication during recruiting.
Let's add in, getting the national out of the business of forcing a school to use reports.
13-4, which will eliminate the requirement that institutions provide materials such as the banned-drug list and Academic Progress Rate data to recruits.
Guess what? Recruits already know these things.
To do things that just make sense:
16-4, which will allow institutions, conferences or the NCAA to pay for medical and related expenses for a student-athlete.
To not make kids choose between state or national athletic appearances their talent has earned.
16-8, which will allow student-athletes to receive actual and necessary expenses and “reasonable benefits” associated with a national team practice and competition and also will allow institutions to pay for any number of national team tryouts and championship events.
Let's hope this is the start of a revolution in the rulebook where national is going to spend more time on the big issues.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Recovering items from the social media past could be big money, and not just to dig up that scandal. What about the photos you posted and forgot about? Ah yes, as Harry S Truman famously said, the only thing new in the world is the history we don't know. And these companies look to capitalize on old social data.
Monday, January 21, 2013
As l'affaire Te'o morphs into it's own social media meme -- Teoing, a photo with your imaginary significant other, not unlike gratuitous Tebowing, kneeling in prayer after a significant accomplishment -- the New York Daily News' Dick Weiss brings out a detail of the story missed here:
Te’o told Sports Illustrated that he would phone her in her hospital room and stay on the line with her as he slept through the night. Her relatives told him that at her lowest points, as she fought to emerge from a coma, her breathing rate would increase at the sound of his voice. If the conversations took place, who was on the other end of the line?
That's a little more than some swapping back and forth of social media contacts or emails. That, my friends, is the land of Arkansas head football coaches, both Houston Nutt and Bobby Petrino.
Because phone records are very easy to produce.
And to request. So even if you aren't a public employee who's cell phone records are available for FOIA -- and you can scream invasion of privacy all day -- to save your reputation, you will produce them.
We will see Thursday if Te'o meets the press. Weiss wonders at the close of his column if he can recover from this. To that I have one name: Michael Vick.
The line of today on the continuing postmortem of The Girlfriend belongs to the two who burst the bubble. Timothy Burke of Deadspin gets the key quote:
As surprising as people find the facts of the story that we published on Deadspin, I find it far more shocking that we’re the first ones to actually look into it.
That's OK. Few of the professionals believed Woodward and Bernstein in the beginning.
Verification of the details is something we hear we will lose with the decline of traditional journalism, or perhaps better put, 20th century journalism. Because we can't trust the new networked media, the participatory media or social media. Even though survey after survey reveals we trust our friends more than we trust media sources, there remains something jarring to the old school among us.
Poynter gives us the first lengthy review of l'affaire Te'o. The Chronicle as a pair of follow-ups this weekend as well, asking did Notre Dame get out too fast in reaction and what others are saying about the scandal.
This idea of source versus the brand involved as been around for years.
Recall it was the "pajama-wearing bloggers" that undid Dan Rather. It was a pair of message boards, and a handful of "fanatics", who broke and pushed the Houston Nutt saga (Ark Times | ESPN The Magazine). The recent problems surrounding University of North Carolina athletics began with a few curious social media posts and another foray by the message board crowd.
Insiders want to believe. In part, because they want to stay inside. Sports reporters are especially endangered, and often hand off to the news side any serious controversies -- player bad behavior, NCAA investigations, financial misdealing -- not because they aren't good journalists or can't pursue the investigation. They can't be tainted by the revelations, lest they be cast out as unclean and no longer worthy of trust from "the department."
Chris Carter's X-Files hit the nail on the head: The Truth is Out There.
Sometimes, we don't want to see it. Does it mean we have to cynically disbelieve everything we hear or see related to college sports? No. In fact, that's the point. We want something that is pure, and sure, and true. We want a winner, and a loser -- fair and just. Thus we have such tremendous outrage when the officials signal first down and clearly there were chain links between the tip of the football and the stick.
There is an irony within this. I write of "branded journalism" where we -- either athletics alone or universities themselves -- increasingly become the source of news. (Here's one from 2013 on same.) We tell you our bias up front, and most understand that and want to hear from all sides.
But will we tell you the truth? Frankly, because so much of the reputation of a brand or institution is at stake if they lie, I would say in most cases yes.
The same for the emerging media. Think about this -- can Deadspin afford to be wrong? They are building their reputation. Can PigBoy37? Absolutely, as he hides behind the pseudo-privacy of a screen name. (Although, since Notre Dame's "investigators" claim to have seen the pithy chatter between the conspirators, let it serve as a reminder you're not as anonymous as you think.)
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Monday is Martin Luther King Jr Day. Almost every university in the country is closed.
It was also the originally targeted day, according to Notre Dame, for the family to present l'affaire Te'o.
Let me quote The Chronicle, who had this from Kenny Mossman of Oklahoma in a weekend recap of did Notre Dame jump out too fast on l'affaire Te'o:
"If we're going to push these young people into public forums," said Oklahoma's Mr. Mossman, "we owe it to them to offer some level of protection."
Call a meeting Tuesday. Talk about social media policies of your university. Remind students this is their reputation, more so than the institution.
And if you need someone from the outside to deliver the message, there are numerous folks with ties to the field who can help. In disclosure, I do that on the side. So do folks like Chris Syme. Both of us former SIDs. I'm told the NCAA has a listing of approved or recommended trainers as well.
You know things are getting weird when the opening graph of a straight news story in the Chicago Tribune has this many covers.
Dave Boyer writes in the Friday Washington Times about Vice President Joe Biden's recollection of being near a 2006 school shooting incident in Pennsylvania.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
In a cover story for subscribers, the hometown paper of the Te'o family screamed in 144 point type:
Speaking with sports agents and others, the Advertiser covered how the damage is growing by the hour for the future NFL star. The lead quote is the takeaway:
"If what he is saying is true, that he was a victim of a hoax, he should've come out right away and spoken. If he was my client, I would have had him come out two weeks ago and been in front of the story."
Thus spoke Kenny Zuckerman of Priority Sports.
Later in the story, we get the advice of Frank Vuono, who's clients include the New York Giants and the NFL.
"The advice we give our clients is to tell the truth because as much as it hurts now, it only gets worse if you don't. People in this country are willing to forgive."
Unless, you make it Watergate Bad.
The director of Rice University's sports management program, Clark Haptonstall, caps it off.
"When there is a crisis situation, it is always good to try and respond as quickly as you can, usually in the first 24 hours. He won't get his story across until he gets in front of people."
All sage advice. Almost always falling on deaf ears in the college sports community. Rare is the circumstance -- TCU football's involvement in a campus drug bust -- where that is the plan of action.
A tip of the hat to the Advertiser on the quotes, and a reminder to all: Press Reader is your indispensable news tool. The global subscription allows access to hundreds of papers, in PDF format, like the Columbus Dispatch (when Tatoo-gate exploded), Philadelphia and Chicago markets (during Penn State) and now the Advertiser. If you are serious in this business -- sports or university side -- the $30 fee is money well spent.
Friday, January 18, 2013
Resurrect Scully and Mulder. Phone up JJ Abrams. Cause alt reality is starting to make as much or more sense than the Manti Te'o saga.
At this point, one MUST believe this stuff because it is so incredibly implausible. Fiction requires more substance than this.
Let's put aside the bizarro twist that turned on the light for Te'o: the sudden reappearance of his dead girlfriend on Dec. 6 claiming that she faked her death to avoid drug dealers.
I'd like to get back to a little reality check for the 99% of student-athletes (and just the rest of us folks).
Just a few days ago, I reminded the student-athletes at West Alabama that their digital world lives forever, that unless they are incredibly hacker skilled, the traces of what they leave behind will always be there. That I knew from first hand knowledge of the screening that Fortune 500 companies inflict -- privacy rights be damned -- to get solid social media intel on their potential employees.
I want you all to marinate in a very important fact of this Te'o case that has gone completely overlooked.
Once they learned about and believed that Te'o had been the victim of a scam, Notre Dame hired, as described in the media, "private investigators" to trace down the hoax.
If we are to believe what we read, they assembled the ring, learned of the communications of the group and identified the perps.
That wasn't law enforcement. That wasn't TSA, FEMA, Homeland, Janet Napolitano, NSA, CIA or Eschelon.
That was Notre Dame. Private spooks. And you gotta believe, more than a few hacks into some accounts and other interesting cyber-forensics.
Anybody want to say Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, wasn't a profit when he famously said: "Only the paranoid survive?"
Stay frosty out there.
In the growing swirl around Manti Te'o, there are some keys to remember.
Online, there are no secrets.
There is bad, and then there is Watergate Bad.
And above all, the truth will out.
The circle draws closer to Te'o. First the girlfriend was a fiction, then a scam, then one perpetrated by a close friend.
The athletic department knew on Dec. 26. But teammate suspected earlier. Te'o knew as early as Dec. 6. The department and Te'o continued the ruse through the media past the BCS Championship game, in part, to complete the investigation and not alert the hoaxer.
Or, so they say.
That's not to be cruel, but when your bad news gets exposed by Deadspin first, you officially lost control.
We will never know if Notre Dame made a conscious decision to hope this would not surface, or were they planning a mea culpa event with the investigation appearing to be complete. Anticipate more questions about who knew what when a la Penn State.
UPDATE LATER TODAY RE: ABOVE STRIKETHRU: Notre Dame's AD didn't help this situation today with his comments. Alternately, Jack Swarbrick said the school was waiting for the Te'o family to come forward first and that he had encouraged the now former team member to speak up as the victim. (Second similar story).
This is about to become it's own hot mess.
On Wednesday, when Deadspin.com broke the story, Swarbrick said Notre Dame did not go public with its findings sooner because it expected the Te'o family to come forward first.
But Friday, Jan. 18, this word from Swarbrick was the family was set to go Monday, but as noted above, Deadspin beat them to it. Hard to understand in his statement is did the Te'os plan to make a statement Jan. 14 and simply backed down, then got burned on Wednesday, Jan. 16, or that the family was set to go on Monday, Jan. 21, and got scooped. If it is the upcoming Monday -- are they all insane? You planned to bring out the details on Martin Luther King Jr. Day?
Swarbrick does make our point for us to the AP (underscore is my emphasis):
Sometimes the best laid plans don't quite work, and this was an example of that. Because the family lost the opportunity in some ways to control the story.
Apologies, but saying the ball was in the family's court -- especially if they had let the deadline of Monday come and go -- is similar to saying the institution has no fault because that's the story the agent gave us or we had discussed that internally.
Let's step away from the institutional aspect, and think about the people involved. High profile student-athletes are at risk in ways we never imagined.
My first thoughts on the scam were dark. I know the legends of CoSIDA from the 1950s and 1960s when organized crime and bookie syndicates were seeking information from athletic departments on injuries and other edges to influence gambling. The threats that resulted from certain SIDs standing up to not providing data to the "tip sheets" or accepting advertising from them.
This isn't about having college moments like Johnny Football's visit to a casino (hmm, was that rocking the Winstar tweet an endorsement). This is having a Te'o on the hook in a scam and then using it as leverage for blackmail.
Today, I don't have a bright solution, but I have one hint. Those who are quick to try to limit the monitoring of student-athletes might take a second to weigh the protective role that plays against the privacy invasion or freedom of speech concerns.
Forbes jumped off the edge of the earth, resurrecting the idea that the NCAA might get into some "tipping point" moment and ban social. Yeah. That works out well. Good job preparing students for the real world.
What the Forbes folks miss is the very beneficial and necessary trend in NCAA philosophy to mainstream student-athletes, to give them more of the general student body experience. Sounds like a focus on the 1% of super visible Mantis and Johnny Footballs
Banning also destroys the chance for the other 99% of student-athletes to reach out and build relationships for their teams and sports -- and their career futures -- by networking with others online.
If Forbes wants a few tipping points, here are some more likely.
There are a few other "new normals" that are about to emerge. The media HATES to be undercut by the digital or networked media. Reprisals and recriminations all around for how this was missed and explanations of why.
It was George O'Leary who changed things in college athletics about needing to see transcripts to prove degrees. Expect more desire to see "proof" on stories in the future.
As a parting update, ESPN and others have a confession now from the hoaxer, a friend of Te'os. Ties up another important social media concept: Your friends are what your online security is based.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
A great afternoon and evening talking with the coaches, administrators and student-athletes at the University of West Alabama about social media on Monday. Taking two events and putting them together in this new presentation, I came to a new "meme" to share:
Your social media security isn't dependent on your settings, it's dependent on your friends.
Many remember a few years ago when cell phone pics of pro players and college stars became the rage all over the internet. Tim Tebow at a bar and in particular, Steve Spurrier relieving himself in the woods at Augusta National in 2007.
There were only seven people who could have taken the picture of Spurrier and posted it online -- and four of them were the caddies who I seriously doubt would have done so (they'd be immediately fired, although Deadspin contended that is where the photo came from). So that leaves the three golfers in Steve's foursome -- ostensibly one of his friends both took the photo and let it get into the wild.
Fast-forward to the Jacob Cox drunk driving parked car hit-and-run. It was two of his friends that forwarded his Facebook post to the Astoria, Ore., police.
It reinforces the fact that no matter what protections you might take -- locking down a Twitter feed to private or Facebook to be viewed by friends only -- once it is posted for the world to see, those digital assets are easily copied and shared.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Here's a golden oldie from 2008 discovered while cleaning up some files. It was placed inside our web writing style guide for ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Enjoy.
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Just when I thought I was heading to bed, PRSA hits me in the mouth with this one -- and it's one of those stop in your tracks and think pieces.
Branded Journalism. (and in 2010, and in 2009, and in presentations back to 2007)
Hey, does that sound familiar? Only because I've been preaching that for the last six years in this space.
It's plastics, the future. Once again, don't believe me -- read this.
In his overview, Sam Slaughter goes over familiar ground. I like this one pullout:
The best-in-class, like Red Bull, have built entire media companies within their brand.
Or, like most larger college athletic departments (ArkansasRazorbacks.com/RazorVision back in the day, hello).
This is not the Adam Savage School, either. Slaughter's quick:
In practice, this means brands need to make a commitment to honesty and transparency in the content they create, even if it reflects badly on the brand itself. Customers know BS when they see it, and a story or video that contains an unapologetic plug will quickly be dismissed. On the other hand, leveling with customers about a brand’s own shortcomings is a great way to engender trust.
As we've said, who do you want to tell your bad news?
To mutilate the phrase, either get busy with your story telling and transparency, or get busy dying.
Michael Pollan spoke to the American Historical Association recently, specifically to admonish the "professional historians" for ceding the public marketplace of ideas to persons like himself from other fields. He urged more context and more broad use of storytelling technique. He also hit right down my favorite "We're History" program theme:
"We live in this fog of presentness. Every politician would have us forget what they said yesterday."
Or coach. Or athletic administrator.
Readers groan. What's the point of the academic exercise?
First and foremost, with all the detail available -- from online sources, social media, big data waiting for someone's FOIA -- it is absurd to continue operating as if no one will notice when the story changes.
Second and most instructive, one of Pollan's solutions:
"At a time where the information available to us is so rich and so chaotic, those who can provide the satisfactions of passing it all through that narrow aperture of a story are more prized than ever."
To the curators, the sorters, the presenters of larger narratives -- to they go the long term hearts and minds of our publics. In turn goes their trust.
Thus, go with care when following the Adam Savage School and remember, if you have been upfront with your own narratives, you will have the chance to be the trusted source over others outside your group, even though you represent the vested interest of the organization itself.
Saturday, January 05, 2013
While prepping for a talk at West Alabama next week, a gift from a former student, USATF PR director Jill Geer.
Let's run through the givens: Jacob was toasted, not thinking things through and way oversharing. These are generous allows.
He committed a hit and run. He admitted he was drinking. He is 18, which is underage for consumption of alcohol. And he posted, according to the ABC affiliate in Oregon:
Drivin drunk… classsic ;) but to whoever's vehicle i hit i am sorry. :P
In social media training, I call this a self inflicted wound. Best case, you look like an ass.
In the story, Jacob claims he was just joking. I await the outcry of the freedom of expression supporters, the privacy rights advocates, the opportunistic politicos who pass useless legislation like the New Jersey restriction on student monitoring. (As a side note, it's already started. One of the first comment posts on the original news story called out his friends as snitches.)
The Astoria, Ore., police department is making extremely clear how they got the info. One of Jacob's friends called in and another forwarded the post to the PD's own Facebook. After all -- if you see something, say something -- says Homeland Security. In their PIO post you even have "Media looking for a larger picture of the Facebook post screen capture can find it here."
What if . . .
Jacob was a student at Enormous State University. ESU has a student conduct policy that would cover underage drinking, and perhaps has a program looking to reduce it's impact. What would the Dean of Students do next.
And let's add, Jacob is a member of the ESU student government, in a leadership position among his peers.
Perhaps Jacob was a scholarship member of the ESU debate team, or the first chair of the ESU orchestra.
Finally, Jacob was a student-athlete.
What is ESU to do? If ESU is in New Jersey, or one of the other states trying to limit "monitoring", they'd be in a pickle.
Jacob apparently did this as an open post on his Facebook page. We don't know what his privacy settings were like before the event -- maybe he was set to only friends. If so, we return to this time-tested advice: Once Posted, Always Available and Digital Assets are Extremely Portable.
No amount of laws, regulations, restrictions are going to protect Jacob when Jacob is the source. Again, you are your own reporter, editor and publisher -- and that means no one else to blame for your misquote, misinterpretation or mistake. For an old-school look back at some of these, go here.
In some ways, I feel for Jacob. He's in for a time in the 21st century version of the stocks in the public square for the next 24-48 hours, and as one very apt anonymous commenter on the story said stuck for the rest of his life on background checks with employers explaining this. Gee, reckon his call-backs for interviews might be limited based on concerns about trust issues after a hit and run?
He claims it was a joke (enter the freedom of expression crowd). Unfortunately, you don't get to joke around much in social media when dealing with real events. Jacob also told KATU-TV that he hit ice and slid into the car.
Ah, so you did hit the car? And you did flee from the scene of an accident? And you then posted it on Facebook.
Guess what? The PD was NEVER going to arrest you for drunk driving, or even underage drinking. Can't prove a thing. (Now, if you have a bong in your dorm room on Facebook or pictures of doing shots from your MixMaster, well, different story . . .)
Because of the post, police matched up Jacob's car damage with the hit-and-run report that would have gone down as an unsolved insurance claim.
Won't do much good at that point to delete the post -- the evidence is in.
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
Shea Bennett's admonition to the digital that You Are What You Tweet is a great resource to share with those who don't get it from you.
Bennett speaks to what the spies once called "signals intelligence" that people can mine from your social media. The military might not get clear air discussions of operations, or an operative might not get a copy of the plans -- but you can sure learn a lot about how something is going to act, perform and react from listening to lots and lots of what seems to be random data.
I like how Bennett describes when people think they are "being real" and alternating that with a more refined projection of who they want you to think they are. Conclusion: "It makes you look fragmented, and random. Unpredictable. Even dangerous."
Wonder why you didn't get that call back now?
One of the other lines that caught my eye:
It’s readable by everybody else on the network (bar those that you’ve blocked, although there are many ways around that)
I point at this to bring in a discussion currently rolling on the CoSIDA LinkdIn site about New Jersey's new restriction on universities requiring students to give up log-ins to participate in monitoring. These new laws -- four states so far -- are pretty bad political theater. Chris Christie is just upholding what Facebook and others EULAs already require -- you can't give your log-in credentials to a third party for access to your account.
These laws DO NOT absolve students of legal or administrative ramifications of their actions. A public post of underage drinking in a campus facility or use of illegal drugs is still going to lead to sanctions. Violating the company policy on social media is still going to get you fired, and the sooner you learn that in college (help me out here, we are suppose to be preparing young people for the real world, yes?) the better.
Why then the pull quote above? Just to have someone else remind you that just because you set your social media to private or to just friends, digital assets are extremely portable and easily copied. Today's friend can copy and paste you into trouble. And just because you didn't give up your log-ins doesn't mean people -- the government, the university, stalkers, etc. -- aren't monitoring you. Why yes, they can get your texts, and often do so. This is likely to become even easier as Congress is being pressed to revise privacy acts to force carriers to record and store of as much as two years of data.
Pretty soon, it won't just be Twitter that is a permanent record.