I cause trouble

I’ve neglected to mention, of late, my meandering contributions to the delusional football talk in the state. My friends and former colleagues at al.com asked me to participate in some little roundtable discussion they are running on one of their sports blogs, and I, of course, was happy to oblige them. On Sunday afternoons they send the questions, I dash off a few answers and, this week, they broke them up into two posts. Let the calamity begin!

Alabama question 2: Alabama was beaten pretty soundly in Columbia in all three phases of the game. What did Steve Spurrier and company do to stymie the Tide, and is the blueprint now set for future opponents? What adjustments can the Tide make before facing currently-unbeated LSU and Auburn?

Carolina wanted it more. Alabama looked flat and not nearly as fast as they normally do. The Gamecocks won on the defensive line, with a solid backfield and a talented receiver corps. I like to think of it as Alabama looking ahead to Ole Miss. You could chalk it up to want to or scheme, but probably, it was the perfect storm of a still-coming-of-age defense playing against a group of offensive players in garnet and black who just happened to be good where Alabama was exploitable.


Clearly Saban has anger issues when it comes to football — I’m sure it’s safe to visit the Saban estate for Halloween, kids, but don’t go dressed as a football player …

First of all, “unbeated” is now my new favorite word. But, more to the point, people go nuts in the comments. It is comical and almost painful to see how many joints are being strained and sprained to re-shape the narrative of the football season to fit a new reality. It just goes to show that the diehard sports fans of the world and the rest of us, grounded in “reality” or “pragmatism” or wherever else we might find our comforts, are really the ones that are lacking.

Fortunately the diehard fan’s comments on the most useless of ephemeral blog posts can show us our error. Read them all if you need to re-evaluate your life choices.

I enjoy games for the athletic prowess on display and (as I get older) for the potential that it offers talented young people to use their physical gifts to better themselves in other ways. I enjoy the pageantry of the event and the emotion of the experience. I like to think I can leave all of that at the stadium, or at the end of the broadcast, and continue with my life. There are a segment of people that don’t do that, or don’t see the need to do that, and we all thank them for building such incredible page view numbers.

That was on Tuesday, and today they ran the other half of my dashed-off observations, including talk of the upcoming Arkansas at Auburn tilt and thoughts on the now imploding SEC East. But, first the Auburn question:

Auburn question 1: The tables have turned, as Auburn is now ahead of Alabama in the SEC West, the major polls and number of wins against South Carolina this year. Tell me why it’s great to be an Auburn Tiger.

Because being better is always better. Because that makes the insecurities of others so much more delicious. Because despite all that you have said — and despite the inevitable heartburn we’ll all have after Thanksgiving that has nothing to do with the meal — Auburn is 6-0, No. 7, leading many offensive statistics obscure and mainstream, and the Tigers have STILL not reached their full potential. And if they do, woe be unto those standing across the way.

The real reason it is great to be an Auburn Tiger as readers of other sections of this site know, is that “… a part of Auburn always goes with us.

What I’ve been reading: Enhanced Information Scent, Selective Discounting, or Consummate Breakdown: The Psychological Effects of Web-Based Search Results is the study you’ve been waiting for on the valence of relational ads to search engine queries. Before you rush over there and read that, promise to come back, OK?

Now that you are back, you should also check out The Effects of Message Valence and Listener Arousal on Attention, Memory, and Facial Muscular Responses to Radio Advertisements, which is a fine paper. And I’m not just saying that because I know the author and because commercials make my face twitch. That’s a nicely designed experiment, which is the point of our Researching Media Effects class, to find those studies that make us appreciate the methodology they used. We considered another study in class today that was … less than well received … and so it gets the non-link of doom.

Jeff Jarvis, a former boss and presently a professor of journalism at CUNY, takes NPR to task:

NPR has told its staff they may not attend the Stewart/Colbert rallies in Washington at the end of the month. I think they’re terribly wrong here, following the journalistic worldview Jay Rosen calls the view-from-nowhere to its extreme and forbidding employees to be curious.

Or as I tweeted: So I guess NPR reporters aren’t allowed to be *citizen* journalists.


But my real problem here is, again, that NPR is forbidding its employees to be curious. There’s a big event going on in Washington. It could — just could — be the beginning of a movement mobilizing the middle. But NPR people are not allowed to even witness it, to go and try to figure it out, to understand what’s being said and why people are there. No, they can do that only if they are *assigned* to do that. Otherwise, it might seem as if by merely showing up they might have a forbidden opinion.


Very intelligent comments take place below Jarvis’ spot-on argument.

Mindy McAdams, a professor of journalism at the University of Florida, writes the sort of mini-essay that should be standard issue:

In hindsight, I have felt enormous gratitude for every D I got in my first media writing course, every cruel red comment my professors scrawled in the margins of that rough newsprint paper we typed on with our IBM Selectric typewriters, and every deadly boring school board and city council meeting I sat through, struggling to stay awake.

I learned how to conduct long and short interviews, take rapid and accurate notes, and write on deadline. I learned a lot about media law, the First Amendment, journalism ethics, and accuracy. I’ve been grateful ever since.

Then as now, however, the context was missing. I had no clue that what I was learning would be of value to me in my career, because all my professors were focused on an old-school model of hard news and daily newspaper journalism — which I deemed wholly irrelevant to me.


And for all the journalism educators who complain that they cannot teach any new tools and software because they don’t know how to use those tools and software — what is your excuse for not putting context into your teaching? Are you oblivious to the Internet, online news and information, social media, and smartphones? Are you unaware of how journalism skills are used in all kinds of media and all kinds of jobs?

I’m not letting the students off the hook, though. What is wrong with young people who think that the only way to learn anything is to sit in a room with someone talking to them?

Meanwhile, online sales revenues are up, according to Alan Mutter’s analysis:

For the first time in 3½ years, digital sales at newspapers caught up with the growth of the rest of the online advertising industry, according to newly released data.

In a bright note for publishers, figures provided this week by the Internet Advertising Bureau showed that sales in all online categories rose by 13.9% to $6.2 billion in the second quarter. The industry-wide advance precisely matches the 13.9% gain in digital advertising by newspapers in the same period. The newspaper stats, which are compiled by the Newspaper Association of America, previously were detailed here.

As illustrated in the graph below, the last time publishers kept pace with the online ad industry was in the fourth quarter of 2006, when digital sales at newspapers rose 35% while volume for the industry as a whole rose 33%.

ANd now for the non-journalism, 98 years ago today Theodore Roosevelt was shot, and still delivered a long-winded speech. Of all of the Roosevelt anecdotes, this is the one you’d say was too much, if history didn’t verify it.

Did you know that Roosevelt hunted bears? Did you know he did so in Mississippi? I just finished reading about that in Brinkley’s The Wilderness Warrior, which proves you can write 800 pages about one man’s conservation efforts. I’m going to finish that book one day soon. I keep making this promise to myself. But I digress. Mississippi black bears, that’s the new Ole Miss mascot. The comments, as always delight, enlighten and then cross the event horizon to disappoint you.

And now, since you’ve been so patient and kind, a picture:


There are four of these, right up front and in the center of the store’s parking lot. The handicapped customer and the expectant mother had to travel a few more feet to make it inside, but that was well worth the smug satisfaction that gave someone to design and hang these signs. All four spots were empty.

Because I love the earth enough to not deplete it of one more receipt, I purchased nothing. You could rant about this sort of thing, but then you’d find that it has been done, at great length.

Dinner tonight with friends. One of the friends is our realtor, who just returned from a vacation to northern Europe — where he got engaged in the coolest sounding way — in time to hear about our burial ground theory. He does not believe us, but he will in time.

I hope he comes over for Halloween, when I expect a full court press of psychotic appliance happenings to occur. Should be a fun weekend.

So is this weekend. Is it here yet?

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