On Wednesday night, as I sat in the Trib office doing late night copy editing, the tweets started shooting out.
The only thing I could think was "wow." People had said that the controversial end to the Seahawks-Packers Monday night football game would be the straw that broke the camel's back in the NFL referee strike, but I didn't believe that Roger Goodell would listen that well.
But now, an NFL game will be refereed by union officials tonight for the first time this season. My favorite CBS blogger, Will Brinson, put together a nice post about the resolution and the immediate impact for CBS Sports today.
The most interesting part of the post for me was when Brinson pointed out that the referees struggled to reach an agreement to ref tonight's game, but could have easily been ready for Sunday. However, as Brinson noted, that would have put Baltimore and Cleveland at a complete disadvantage, since they would have replacement refs for four games and the rest of the NFL would only have them for three.
I really liked how Brinson closed out his article. He said: "The best news, though, is that coaches, players, media and, most importantly, fans will be able to move past the sordid affair of the replacement refs soon enough."
That's really what this is all about isn't it? I found myself struggling to enjoy the monumental victory my Hawks posted Monday night because of how ESPN painted it as a theft of a victory from the Packers. I deserved that joy, but the fact that there were replacement refs calling the game denied that from me.
At least now we can focus on what every good NFL fan pays attention to on a week to week ba
NewsU has always been a little hit and miss for me. Some I like, some I don't as much, but I always seem to learn from the assessments at the end.
In the case of the Language Primer module however, I noticed yet another poor trend in the modules I have accessed this year. The module was long, dense and tedious to read. That being said, I still was motivated to read through it, since there were assessments at the end.
Then, after just trying one of the assessments to see how much I had to study, I receive a passing 84% on the 50 question test. What that told me is that I didn't need to read the whole thing.
Then, I went back to think about trying another one of the assessments. It occurred to me that I should check if the module saved my completion of the grammar quiz first however. To my dismay, they didn't.
NewsU is a useful tool and it's backed by the Poynter Institute, which is supposed to be the organization that determines good journalism. I get all that. But some of these quizzes just seem like a waste of time to me.
I wish that they would present the quizzes in a more graphically appealing fashion. More pictures, links, and activities, like some of the early modules I did for JOUR 1100 last semester, would boost my interest and learning.
I'm getting tired of doing these tedious quizzes, and it's about time that we either
For CBS Sports' weekly coverage, I again turned to my NFL blog buddy Will Brinson for his insights on the week that was in replacement refereeing.
The first bit of poor officiating he highlighted came from the Patriots-Ravens game on Sunday Night. Bill Belichick, the Patriots head coach, tried to argue with the referee after the Ravens' kicker Justin Tucker made the game winning field goal by the slimmest of margins. Belichick ran up to the official and pushed him as he refused to engage in the argument that was essentially spilled milk.
Brinson writes that Belichick should and will receive a hefty fine from the league office. He even gave a clever suggestion saying that the league should fine Belichick $3 million to help bridge the gap between the NFL and the locked out real referees. I love that suggestion, plus the idea of a scumbag like Belichick losing a year's salary makes me extremely happy from a sports perspective.
The other main thing highlighted by Brinson was Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's chasing down of the replacement refs in the tunnel after the game. Shanahan tracked down the refs in the tunnel before they got away and reportedly swore at them.
"'You have no f***ing balls, you r a f***ing p***y,' Shanahan reportedly yelled at one of the refs," Brinson wrote. That's a bit strong, Kyle. I'm sure the refereeing wasn't that bad. Again, the pictures show the refs managing to ignore him, which is really impressive, even though Shanahan is on the small side physically.
The best part of the whole thing is the graphic running at the bottom of the pictures, which reads "WSH Loses 7th Straight Home Game." Poor, poor Redskins.
Just a little over a year ago, I was a confused freshman wandering around Marquette with no idea what to do with my present or my future. During that first semester, I took a 75 minute class once a week called How to Change the World, named after our textbook, which was written by David Bornstein.
That class, which was my honors college seminar, was taught by Jeff Snell, a special assistant to the president's office who has essentially brought social entrepreneurship to Marquette. Jeff always gave an intriguing lecture, and the projects he had us do showcased our skills and his passion for the field.
When I saw the poster for Bornstein's speech last week, I immediately flashed back to that class. Ten smart, eager freshmen sitting in a classroom, listening to a genius in his field talk to us about the impact we can all have on the world around us. The class, needless to say, provided an incredible opportunity.
What Bornstein's speech provided was nostalgia and closure. I got to think back to a great moment of my freshman year and also confirm some of the things that I learned in the class. The lecture was like a capstone moment nine months after the class ended.
The speech itself illuminated a problem with journalism that I hadn't thought about before. Bornstein preached "solutions journalism," his way of writing about solutions to problems, not just about the problems themselves. This is a problem that goes overlooked by many in the profession. Columns aren't just for whining about the world's issues, but they also provide a unique outlet for providing innovative solutions to those problems.
Overall, Bornstein drew me back to one of the most interesting parts of my freshman year, and also brought me forward, by suggesting a solution to a common journalistic problem, that of a lack of solutions.
In case you missed it, my hometown Seahawks handled the Cowboys 27-7 this weekend behind a steady performance from Russell Wilson and a rock solid defensive effort. I immediately decided that I wanted to write something about the Hawks' victory, and while CBS didn't specifically have Seahawks content, they tipped their caps to the suddenly impressive NFC West in Will Brinson's "Sorting the Sunday Pile."
For those not familiar with the NFC West, the last few years have been rather lackluster. The Seahawks won the division in 2010 with a 7-9 record. They set a new NFL mark for being bad and still making the playoffs (although they won their first playoff game that year, thanks to the play that is now simply known as the BeastQuake).
However, after the first two weeks of the season, the division is 6-2, with just one loss to a team outside of the division (and that was the Rams, so it's kind of a given). Brinson noted the key to the division's early success is its ascent as possibly the best defensive division in football. San Francisco have arguably the best defense in the NFL, while Seattle's young defense has limitless potential, and Arizona and St. Louis boast much improved units as well.
Brinson talked about the impressive 4-0 weekend the division posted. All four teams notched wins over pretty solid teams. The most shocking of the four wins came Sunday afternoon in Foxborough, when the Cardinals shocked the Patriots 20-18. The Rams also played above expectations, slowing the RGIII hype train with a win over the Redskins.
Brinson didn't totally swoon over the division however, as he criticized the Seahawks poor receiving core (don't even get me started) and pretty much the entire offense of the Cardinals besides Larry Fitzgerald. But the fact is that the NFC West is legit this year, and it was good to see the perennially unheralded division get some national credit.
(Here's a bonus clip of Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee getting blown up by Seahawks receiver Golden Tate)
Generally, in my time using NewsU from the Poynter Institute, I have found the modules to be fairly informative and helpful, but also a bit hard to navigate at times. The Developing a Successful Journalistic Blog module was no different.
My favorite part of the module was the graphic which outlined the five main components of a good blog. Since focusing highly on all five is tough, each hand when provided the positives and negatives of emphasizing each element.
The most important element is voice, because readers will connect to writers that have a strong and consistent voice. I also support high curation, which essentially means involving outside sources and information in your blog, and using hyperlinks effectively, much like HerbLowe.com does.
On the whole though, I felt the module was way too text heavy. A lot of the NewsU modules find ways to creatively work in activities, quizzes and other interactive features. This particular one just had paragraph upon paragraph of text that was presented in a pretty boring fashion.
The module should have been made to look like a blog, because then not only would the information on it have been helpful, it would have been good for visual learners as well to actually see what the module means.
I've tried blogging before. I love the Seattle Mariners, and so a friend and I created Way Out in Left Field, a blog with analysis of the Mariners roster moves and performance. I haven't written much since coming back to Marquette, so my friend Anthony has written the recent posts, but I think we try and factor in all five parts of blogging to an extent.
Initially, I tried to approach the 11th remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001 from a sports standpoint with this post, but regrettably, CBSSports.com didn't have any content on 9/11. The website evidently pushed all of their 9/11 media to the news site, which happens to be my beat assignment for JOUR 1550, so that works just as well.
CBSNews had a link on the front page that read "America remembers Sept. 11 attacks 11 years later." I clicked the link and came to an article filled with content reflecting on the horrible tragedy that occurred 11 years ago today.
The article began with an article about loved ones of the victims coming to ground zero to pay their respects. I was shocked that this quote ran:
"'I feel much more relaxed' this year, said Jane Pollicino, who came to ground zero Tuesday morning to mourn her husband, who was killed at the trade center. 'After the ninth anniversary, that next day, you started building up to the 10th year. This feels a lot different, in that regard. It's another anniversary that we can commemorate in a calmer way, without that 10-year pressure.'"
I cannot imagine a person who lost a love one in the attacks saying something like this. The reporter who got this quote must have changed it slightly to make grammatical sense, because I just do not see how the "10-year pressure" would make the mourning any different. Most human beings don't operate like that. I don't know, maybe that's just me.
The page also had a clip of the President's speech at the Pentagon from this morning. I thought Obama spoke eloquently and with meaning like he always does, but I also thought he effectively captured the deep sense of sadness and loss that comes with a terrible day like today. I love listening to Obama's speeches, and this was one of his best.
CBS also had a number of photo galleries under the link regarding 9/11. One of them was a 60-photo collection from this morning at the World Trade Center Memorial. The photos were very moving, and a photo tribute is often the best way to remember a somber event once enough has been written about it over the years.
I personally remembered 9/11 in bits and pieces. I lived in Maine at the time, and as a third grader, two things stand out to me in my mind. First of all, I remember that we said the pledge of allegiance over the intercom that morning before class started. We didn't do that regularly, so I remember thinking that was a little odd. I also remember when my mom came and got me from school and told me what happened. I really didn't quite have a grasp on exactly what 9/11 meant at the time, since I didn't know anyone in the buildings or on the planes. But looking back, I just remember the attacks leading to a sort of harrowing sense of danger even a third grader could understand.
September 11th, 2001 was a horrible tragedy, but since that day, our country has moved forward and improved our awareness of global terrorism. The flag may fly at half mast today, but in our hearts, we know America is much safer today than it was 11 years ago and that is a great thing.
Of the all the writers at CBSSports.com, Jason La Canfora is probably the one I know the best. I try and catch my local morning sports radio talk show, 950 KJR's "Mitch in the Morning," every day that I can. La Canfora appears on the show weekly during the NFL season. So when I went to the CBS Sports homepage and saw La Canfora's name in bold right in the middle of the page, I immediately went to read his article.
La Canfora covered the most pertinent parts of the weekend in the NFL as he saw them. He chose to single out three teams with fairly high expectations going into the season that significantly underperformed in week one. He felt the Bills, Saints, and Eagles significantly disappointed, and dedicated about four paragraphs to each team.
The most effective parts of La Canfora's criticism surrounded Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Saints defense, and Michael Vick's struggles. He pointed out that since earning a massive contract extension, Fitzpatrick is just 1-9, and has thrown far and away the most interceptions in the league in that span. Fitzpatrick also has a bottom third passer rating among starts and just 13 touchdown in the ten game stretch. I agreed with La Canfora about Fitzpatrick, who I felt was undeserving of his big contract in the first place.
Regarding the much-maligned Saints defense, La Canfora pointed out that they look a little lost without banned defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Robert Griffin III absolutely gashed them in his first NFL game, and La Canfora said that he thinks the Saints are going through a "major adjustment period." From watching this game, I am very worried about the Saints defense as well. Even though Steve Spagnuolo won a Super Bowl in 2007 as the Giants defensive coordinator, it seems as if his system will take a bit of time to get on track.
La Canfora seemed most concerned about the Eagles and their quarterback Michael Vick, even though the Eagles actually defeated the Browns 17-16 Sunday. Vick threw four interceptions, "single-handedly keeping the Browns in the game," according to La Canfora. La Canfora even went as far to suggest that Vick will never reach the level he played at two seasons ago, when he earned a $100 million contract. I'm not sure if Vick has plateaued, but four interceptions certainly won't win the Eagles many games this year, even against poor opponents like the Browns.
With so much to write about following the opening weekend of the NFL, La Canfora did a great job of establishing an angle with which to evaluate the proceedings and sticking to it.
As a veteran of Poynter's News University from JOUR 1100 last spring, I was familiar with the organization's way of providing information on pertinent journalistic topics as I began to read their Introduction to Sports Reporting course. News U typically delivers fairly standard information in stimulating, interactive ways, such as graphics and quizzes.
I was surprised to find that the sports reporting course provided a range of useful information that I had never thought about and focused less on eye-catching designs than providing solid advice to up-and-coming journalists.
Personally, I consider myself a connoisseur of knowledge in all sports, not just the big three professional ones. So when it came to the "So you think you know sports" quizzes, I expected to do very well. I landed a 14 out of 15 on the baseball, basketball, and football quizzes. The only one I missed was a flawed question about the backcourt violation rule (it's eight seconds in the pros and 10 in college and below).
However, I was shocked that I missed all five questions about track and field. While I won't claim track as one of my best sports in terms of knowledge (it might not even make the top 10), I assumed that I could get at least two based on pure sports instinct. Oops. Sounds like I have some work to do in that department.
What made this course as a whole effective was how much it drew from actual sports articles. It used games as big as the deciding game five in the 2010 World Series and games as small as a middle school volleyball championship.
The course also had advice from veteran sports writers to compound its key points. The one that stood out to me most was Bob Ryan, a renowned sports columnist from the Boston Globe and a contributor on Pardon the Interruption and Around the Horn on ESPN. Many consider Ryan one of the best of all time, and his input gave weight to what the course was trying to get across.
The course offered sound advice about every phase of the process, from the pre-game research to the post-game interviews and successive article. Introduction to Sports Reporting is a great reference for any journalist exploring the profession of covering sports, and I will probably refer back to it during my work at the Marquette Tribune this year.
Admittedly, I don't think I have ever visited CBSSports.com before being assigned this beat for JOUR 4932. In some ways, I can see why.
CBS doesn't carry the same brand name in the sports world that ESPN does. CBS is the "most-watched cable network" but not because of sports. Shows like Hawaii Five-O and How I Met Your Mother bring viewers to CBS on a regular basis more than the occasional afternoon NFL game.
The only exception is during late March and early April, when CBS owns the sporting world with exclusive rights to March Madness. During that month, CBS pushes their sports coverage hard, but for a fan like me, who lives for ESPN and ESPN.com, the network disappears from my consciousness for a while, especially during the summer.
However, compared to second-tier sports websites like NBC Sports and Yahoo! Sports, CBS has a pretty stellar website design. They use a similar running score ticker at the top of the site to ESPN's, and they have an eerily similar overall layout, with some things reversed.
For example, the five window design ESPN has at the bottom of their main page is much like the three tabs that CBS runs above their lead main page photo. Moreover, their headlines run down the right side of the page in the same way that ESPN's do. They also have a fan poll on the page, but it is located higher up than ESPN's.
As far as differences go, CBS's front page isn't nearly as long as ESPN's. I'm still not sure whether that's a good or a bad thing. CBS also doesn't have NHL or Nascar on top of their site, instead listing Tennis and High School before the More Sports tab. It shows a difference of opinions between the two organizations on which sports will attract more clicks on their respective pages.
Lastly, CBS seems to have a smaller, more "journalistic" writing staff than ESPN does. ESPN is a huge site with hundreds of writers covering thousands of different topics. CBS's writing staff covers less information and try and present it in an extremely professional manner.
Overall, no site could possibly divorce me from my lover, ESPN. But CBS Sports does present a quick and concise way of getting information about the most pressing issues in the world of sports.