Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What is online journalism?

Online journalism is the ability to take some of the older lessons of reporting, writing, and editing into stories but with a quicker style. Online journalism isn't entirely writing anymore; it is also about the ability to post quick thoughts, take photos, some mastery of the internet, and the ability to navigate different online sources quickly.

In the older style of journalism, the sources used were simply as a reference point. But now, it is possible to bring the audience directly to those sources and to comment on the validity of that source.

Online journalism is in a lot of ways, the same thing as convergence because it is the application of several skills to build a certain package for a story. Sometimes, online journalism doesn't even mean writing a full article. It can be quick, but short takes on a certain issue or several photo captions lined up together to tell a story.

Every editor tells their writer to show, not tell. In online journalism, that is especially important because of how easy it is to add graphics or pictures to a site.

There is also the art of blogging, which is making a post that either tells news, gives an opinion, shares something unique, or can even be all of the above. Blogging appeals to every kind of person because a good blog post can have videos, links, sound, and text.

Good online journalism, although faster than traditional journalism, should be equal in quality as any newspaper. Good online journalism simply makes the article more reader-friendly, but does not take away from the skill of writing a good article. When done well, online journalism can reach a wide audience and be equally as engaging as a several thousand word feature piece in The New Yorker.

Monday, December 8, 2008

End of the Year Collegian Thoughts

If you include tomorrow, there are only four more papers left to this semester. The Score, which is the Collegian's yearly magazine and has features on at least one player from each team was released Saturday at the game against Boston College. It will officially be released Tuesday at the Score party which this entire class is invited to (we'll be in the same place anyway). 

My last article for the Collegian is going to be Wednesday night's wrap where UMass basketball plays Holy Cross. Here are some superlatives (good and bad) for my coverage of women's soccer and men's basketball this season. 

Best Article: Score Feature (women's soccer)- Home Again
Worst Article: Sept. 5- Patry sparks struggling offense
Best Interview: Vanessa Lima for the Score
Worst Interview: Meghan Collins for sidebar on playing her sister.
Best Game I Covered: Sept. 26- Women's soccer defeats Saint Bonaventure in double-overtime.
Worst Game I Covered: Nov. 29- Men's basketball loses to Wisconsin-Green Bay by 15 points.
Funniest Moment: Vanessa Patry tilting her head to the side to explain her header in the overtime win over Holy Cross.
Game I Wish I Saw: Women's soccer beating Dayton on Oct. 12.
Most Surprising Moment: Kellogg walking over to press row before the game against Dowling
I Wish I Talked To...: Tony Gaffney
Most Media Friendly: Mel Toulouse (duh)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Beating the recession

I found an article on CNN today about how one teacher is selling ad space on his tests to get money for exams in an AP class. The teacher wanted to find an innovative way of making money without making the tests shorter. The ads allow for either inspirational quotes or promotion.

I thought it was pretty interesting because the article states that he needed the money since it was Calculus and he didn't want to hurt the students. 90 percent of his class got a 5 on the AP exam, which is pretty remarkable considering how hard those tests are.

One person said, "too bad you're not a bank, because you might qualify for $700 billion." I thought that was pretty clever.

It seems pretty obvious that he cares a lot about his class and he wants to give his students everything that he has given other classes. It doesn't seem ideal to sell space on tests since it's distracting, but given the current economic situation, I don't think it is a bad solution.

I wonder if professors at UMass would ever do this for their tests.




Thursday, November 27, 2008

Live blog on Thanksgiving


Here is a video of one of my younger cousins counting to 10 in Spanish after being a little shy at first. 


9:13 p.m: Everyone is gone. My family had a talent show. One of my favorites was one of my little cousins who counted to 10 in English, French, and Spanish. I thought it was really funny so I took a video of it and embeded it from YouTube. Overall, it was a good night and I'm going out with my sister, my uncle's au pair, and the girls who helped my mom cook the dinner at midnight to show them around town. Midnight shopping is a new concept for them so I got the go ahead from my parents. 

7:20 p.m: The family has settled in and we just finished dinner and dessert. Picture No. 4 shows the family at one of four tables we had set up. I had a 392 moment tonight because one of my cousins owns a few bars (one of my other cousins works with him). He told me that he needed to learn how Twitter works to promote his bars since that is the new marketing tool. I got them both set up with Twitter and Twitterberry so that they can now update from their phones. 

4:20 p.m: Strike that first phrase from my last post. Mom is starting to panic with 10 minutes before people arrive. My dad is stepping in by cutting the turkey as you will see in picture No. 3. People will be here shortly so I should probably be downstairs getting ready to greet people.  

2:45 p.m: Mom is relatively calm, but has made even more food than I originally thought. In other words, she could probably feed two third-world countries. I have no complaints though. My job for the past hour was to take my dog for a walk so she doesn't flip out when family comes in (see picture No. 2). Thanksgiving officially starts in T-105 minutes. 

1:02 p.m: iWebPhoto didn't work so I'm now switching my album to flickr. I talked to my grandma a little bit and have been watching my mom make food. I wanted to get an action shot, but she felt that she needed to be more dressed up before blogging on her cooking. 

Here is a link to my photo album

10 am Central Standard Time: Good morning everyone! I'm finally up, showered, and about to help my mom get ready for Thanksgiving. This has already been very interesting as my mom is nowhere near as stressed as she has been in the past because she hired help. Her help consists of two attractive girls from Denmark that I've been told are around my age. Aside from feeling a little uncomfortable about that, I'm looking forward to today. The family should be over at around 4:30, but there will be plenty of excitement before then. Check back throughout the day as I will be blogging about the day and will also have a photo album up on iWebPhoto. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Deerfield Review

As Scott pointed out, the Deerfield Review isn't exactly Mass Live when it comes to 21st century journalism. They just recently added a comments section but they also have blogs. None of those have to do with Deerfield, though.

The Sun-Times owns the news group that produces the Review which is why the paper and site are very similar. If there is any crime in Deerfield, it's usually for weed or DUI so the front page generally contains a lot of puff pieces like the one on the front page now about different Thanksgiving recipes. 

There are plenty of videos, but they seemed to be copied from the Sun-Times website. There are barely any ads and if there are any, they are Sun-Times related ads. Another thing I don't like is that there is too much news from other areas on the page and it's very plain looking.

I have to click on the Neighborhood Circle website (which I didn't even notice until Scott pointed it out to me) to get more information on Deerfield but even that is skimpy. They only thing from this site that catches my eye is the event page, but they're all pretty boring so I don't really care.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Great criticism of ESPN

Any wanna be sports journalist should read Rick Telander's column about ESPN. It is about how ESPN is allowed to do whatever it wants because it hires so many columnists that nobody can challenge it and the only person who does is the Ombudsman, paid by ESPN. 

It's a great read.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chicago Tribune Photo Gallery


The Chicago Tribune does something every day that I think is a good way of getting the news across quickly and visually. It's called, "Photos in the news." The Tribune takes the top photos of the day that describe everything that happened around the world and put in a short caption with each of them.

I like this picture the best because it sort of resembles what journalists have to do since the woman is holding a video camera and digital camera. This picture is her getting shots of a tree that will be used in a holliday event.

The Big Picture

This picture comes from Boston.com's "Big Picture" describing the California wild fires. I think using pictures to tell a story is an effective way of describing what happens and I wouldn't be surprised to see this happen more often. It's a good way of doing what you often hear from your English teachers, "show, don't tell."

I think the captions at the bottom do a good job of explaining what happened and for something like this, it could be useful but there aren't any quotes in the stories and I don't think it should replace regular reporting. I still like reading about what happened, but if there isn't much time to go over a news story, this is a good alternative. The pictures themselves are so big and crisp, that it's easy to see every detail in the picture. 

I also like that there are so many pictures to give a full description of what happened. The pictures show how bad the damage was and do a good job of drawing emotion. I chose the picture above because it's clear damage of what the fire is doing to a certain house and I'm sure a lot of people look at that and wonder how they would react if that was their house.

The only thing that I would really change about this is possibly making it so that the reader has to click to get to a new picture because otherwise it can take too long to load and there's too much scrolling. But I think the idea is really cool.

Monday, November 17, 2008

PUPPIES!



One family with a lot of puppies wanted to find a way to know what their puppies were doing at all times when they were away from home. They decided to put a web cam near the litter of puppies to solve that problem. Recently the Today Show published the family's site and now thousands of visitors watch the puppies as well. Here is the link to look at the puppies if you are interested.

Can Obama fix the BCS?

President-Elect Barack Obama may be leaning towards a new kind of sports reform in congress. No I'm not talking about steroids, but the Bowl Championship Series. Obama is dead-set on having an eight-team play-off in college football, going as far as saying, "I'll throw my weight around."

Deadspin does a good job of outlining Obama's plan for college football. It's actually pretty good and would be very fair for the teams who could be the college basketball version of Roger Mason. The BCS isn't too crazy about this idea at first saying there is no chance of such a change happening. They say that they are willing to talk, but we all know that's code for the president of the BCS saying to the president of the United States, "shut-up and let us govern ourselves."

But they like the enthusiasm. Economy? War in Iraq? Who cares, let's fix the BCS. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Conflict avoided


The Massachusetts men's basketball loss to Southern Illinois just barely saved a whole lot of problems for the Daily Collegian sports staff. If the Minutemen won, they would go on to play Duke at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 20 and most likely Michigan on Nov. 21. 

The way the current set-up is for the season would've made things a little problematic for this game. This semester, the beat writers for basketball are Jeff Larnard (Assistant Sports Editor), Scott Feldman, and me. It gets a little complicated from there. Feldman (graduating) and I (studying abroad) won't be covering the team next semester so our head Sports Editor, Eli Rosenswaike will cover the team with Jeff for the spring semester.

However, Eli still has the right to use his executive privilige and cover any game he wants to because he's Eli and he covered basketball last year. Our Editor in Chief, Michael King, also covered the team last year. Here would've been the pecking order for covering the Duke game: King, Eli, Jeff, Feldman, and then me. See the problem? 

The way it would've probably worked is King and Eli cover the Duke game and Jeff, Feldman, and I cover Michigan but there would've been no way of knowing what would've happened. Two big factors that can explain UMass blowing its lead. 1. Luke Bonner got injured, which caused the Minutemen to lose a solid big man (never thought I'd say that) and 2. Chris Lowe had nine turnovers. Coach Kellogg always likes to say how the team is run through its point guard and tonight that wasn't at all the case. 

Oh well, I'm sure SIU will have fun when Duke beats the crap out of it next Thursday. 

SIDE NOTE: Make sure to check out my final piece on women's soccer in the Collegian today. It's my first column ever on UMass sports. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

First thoughts on covering basketball

I went to my first UMass basketball game as a beat reporter last Tuesday. It was only an exhibition game, but it gave me a chance to see what covering the team was going to be like and so far, it's been great. 

UMass coach Derek Kellogg came over to greet all of us and asked if we got everything we needed the other day. He also thanked us all for covering the team. Kellogg has made it clear from the first time we met him that he is going to take us very seriously and cares a lot about how we cover the team. He has a one-track mind, which is making the Minutemen one of the best teams in the nation, and wants the fan-support that comes with it.

He believes part of getting that fan support is going to be based on how the Daily Collegian covers the team. Since we are the student paper, he feels like he has to make himself accessible to us so that we do a good job of covering UMass basketball and he gets the fan support that he wants. Granted, I'm not expecting him to give out his cell phone number anytime soon or even if he did, the Media Relations person, Jason Yellin isn't going to let him, but for a big-time beat, he is very friendly. 

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My election night

Unfortunately, I had to work on a journalism project for another class simultaneous to watching the election so I wasn't able to go out, however I do have one distinct moment from my dorm of what happened when Obama won.

Almost my entire floor ran out of their rooms and screamed about how happy they are and everyone made calls to friends and family. Almost right at 11 p.m., I had about three calls, two text messages, and six instant messages. That was an interesting experience of its own.

Election Night

I don't think I've ever seen as many anchors cry over news they are reporting as much as they did after President-elect Barack Obama officially won at 11 p.m. on Tuesday night.

The networks were celebrating (except for Fox, who as John Stewart said is probably sitting shiva at the moment) and all talked about how he was going to change America. The one thing that I actually thought was most interesting was how they used technology.

MSNBC used more 3D graphics than anyone I've ever seen as they had a digital senate showing which ones went blue and which were red. But CNN far outdid anyone, especially with that hologram of Jessica Yellin

The only problem I had with it is that it takes away from some of the atmosphere, although there was a combination of the hologram and live footage of Grant Park, so I had no problem with it. In addition, they used that touch-screen map to show how McCain and Obama were doing.

The interesting part that came out of that was where they went to traditionally conservative parts of any state at random and the deficit that Obama was losing to McCain was always marginally smaller than Kerry to Bush. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Comparison between Instapundit and Daily Kos

I'm sure this isn't some groundbreaking research or anything, but I found Daily Kos to be extremely liberal. Nearly every video praised Barack Obama or talked about how he was winning. They embed a lot of videos and write their own opinions. 

The post that I thought was most interesting was on Nov. 3 where Dixville Notch, NH shows the history of their voting record and how it relates to the possible winner of the election. Obama is the first candidate since at least 1984 to win that town, which has traditionally gone Republican. 

A little further down, Daily Kos shows an unwanted endorsement from President Bush to John McCain saying that he agrees with him on the economy and national security. There are also Obama ads on the site. 

Instapundit on the other hand seems more bias towards McCain. Their blog seems to be more about posting short little comments and linking out to the rest of the full stories. It seems to have more sensationalist news as well. One thing that really got to me was this comment they had, linking to ABC News.

Among the other voters who have shown up to vote at Shoesmith Elementary School this morning, where Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., will vote: Louis Farrakhan and William Ayers.

Seriously.

Welcome to the South Side of Chicago.






Monday, November 3, 2008

It's all over

The Massachusetts women's soccer team concluded over the weekend with two losses to extend its losing streak to five games. Aside from a feature on Vanessa Lima, I have one more interview with Coach Rudy, which will help me write a column and David Brinch write a season review on the team. Brinch wrote a piece on all the seniors finishing their careers while I wrote the wrap, which quite frankly, is irrelevant considering how the team was doing lately. What the game was really about was watching Coach Rudy's favorite or at least one of his favorite senior classes play their last game for UMass. 

If I was to talk about my favorite memory at UMass this semester, it would have to be one of the women's soccer games I went to. I can't remember the last time I actually had fun covering a team. Covering a team always carries a significant amount of fun or else I wouldn't be doing journalism, but this was different. 

Part of it definitely had to do with working with Brinch, who is my best friend on the staff, but I always felt like I was welcomed at every game and enjoyed every second that I covered the team.

For the rest of the year, I will be doing men's basketball, which is certainly more glamorous than women's soccer, but I doubt it will be as fun. Media day was today for the basketball team and it basically consisted of me shoving a recorder in front of Coach Kellogg and Chris Lowe's face, hoping that someone else would ask the rest of the questions that I couldn't get with my one or two shots I had at asking anything.

Kellogg seems to care about the student newspaper a lot, but he's no Rudy and the cliches killed me. He couldn't be given how high-profile D1 basketball is. After interviews, I got probably the best meal I've had all semester here with steak as the main course. It was for the basketball players, media, and media relations. The truth is that there was enough food that both basketball teams and both soccer teams could have eaten at this thing and everyone would be full.

I only bring this up because last week Rudy talked to me in an interview about how upset he was that he couldn't treat the team as often as he would like because of the budget restrictions while the basketball team had lobsters. It was nice getting to have such a good meal, but that whole time I kept thinking about Rudy telling us how the budget affected how he approached meals on the road. 

I know that basketball season is going to be a good experience and is the best beat on the Collegian. But in return, I know that I'm not going to laugh as much as I did covering women's soccer. 

Election predictions


With the election finally here, I figured I would give a prediction of how I think the election is going to turn out. Here is my state-by-state prediction along with a numbers total at the end.

McCain states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennesee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming

Obama states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine (3-1), Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Final prediction: Obama wins, 300-238

I feel like there is a lot of hype concerning the red states turning blue. That may be true but it's more likely that it's going to come down to some swing states once again. I don't see Obama winning any southern states besides New Mexico and I don't think he wins Pennsylvania as Clinton's ghost comes back to haunt him for only a few hours. What's really going to matter are Ohio and Missouri.

Ohio has the demographic that Obama really wants to appeal to and that is the working class. I think Obama makes a strong push to get more voters to show up and ultimately edges McCain in that area. Missouri seems to be going more blue by the second. I also expect that to be a close race, but the undecided voters are going to go for Obama.

This race should be decided relatively early as there aren't any West Coast states that are going to have a profound impact on the election. I expect Obama to know if he wins by 11 or midnight, but he's not going to say officially until he gets California, which could take awhile.

Side note: The reason why Maine has two numbers next to it is because the state is not winner takes all. I am predicting Obama gets three of the delegates because of the proportion of the win.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Final weekend covering women's soccer


This weekend's games against Saint Louis and Charlotte will be the final games for the Massachusetts women's soccer team this season. It's going to be a bittersweet moment for me because when the season is over, I'll be covering men's basketball, which I'm really excited about but it won't be the same as covering women's soccer.





I'm not really a big soccer fan. In fact, I don't like soccer at all and I thought this was going to be a dreadful fall. Instead, Rudy made the game a lot more interesting, and I couldn't get through an interview with one of the players without laughing. I now understand a lot more about soccer than I ever have and I'm going to miss not covering the team for the rest of the semester.

Sure, basketball is going to be fun in its own way, but basketball coach Derek Kellogg isn't going to ask how our grades are doing or talk about previous stories. I probably won't even get his cell phone number.  


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Barack Obama's 30-minute infomercial

As many news stations have been reporting, Barack Obama did the equivalent of what your family would do when they are in Mexico and need to spend their last 200 pesos on something before going back to the states: buy something completely useless and unnecessary.

I have to admit, the infomercial sent chills down my back and I loved every minute of it, but I doubt it's going to sway any undecided voters. If it does anything, it just shows how much power he has over the media that he can afford a half-hour spot on so many networks.

I enjoyed the fact that he kept everything positive and avoided showing the comparisons between himself and John McCain. It gave the voters a good look at what he actually believes in while he gets to relish in the arena that he is exceptionally strong in. When he is in front of a teleprompter and saying something that he prepared on his own, Obama is usually at his best.

Such was the case tonight as he eloquently desribed the four stories of working-class families who believed in America, but were struggling to make ends meet. I found it interesting how he showed that before Bush, they all did fine on their own and they want to be fine on their own.

He used that point to say something similar to how the Americans don't want big government, but a growth in the economy and new jobs. That claim went directly to the socialism accusation that McCain likes to use against him.

Overall, I still believe that the informercial had little, if any impact on Obama's chances of getting elected as reported by NBC. I know there is criticism that Obama could've better used this money to contribute to the poor or support an organization, but it would cheapen the contribution given by voters.

He got all his money (most of it being small contributions) from Americans rather than PAC's. It wouldn't seem right if Obama used the money for anything else besides his campaign. The reason he gets money in the first place is to spread his message so that he can get people to vote for him. Obviously he has and is using the money he gets to accomplish that goal.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Local blog comparisons

I guess I should give a little caveat here in saying that I don't know if I'm in favor of having local blogs as most towns are so small that they can easily be covered with a local newspaper, but if it gives perspectives, I'm a little more understanding.

Baristanet is by far my favorite site because there is a decent amount of journalism and it isn't nationalized. Loudoun is owned by the Washington Post and has quite a bit of national news, which I'm not really a fan of because it's supposed to appeal to more of a niche market. iBattleboro seems all over the place and just doesn't have the professionalism that I think even the worst blogs have to have.

All of Barista's stories don't necessarily have to do with anything relevant to people outside the Newark area, but the site is pretty appropriate for people living in the area. The only thing I don't like is that it's written by one person but I guess that's the trade-off for professionalism at times.

Loudoun does a decent amount of local coverage, but looks so professional that I think it takes away from the idea of blogging.

Amherst Life Blog

Since my town is most likely too snobby to have people blogging about it (same with the town next to me), I chose to write about the Amherst Life Blog. It's very informative on Amherst, although it hasn't been updated for awhile.

The last post was August 27 where it was welcoming back students. Seeing as we are midway through the semester, it would be nice to see something more recent than this on Amherst. The one post that I really enjoyed was reading about the "Tourism Boom in Amherst."

The post mentions how more people are visiting Amherst and the restaurants are having more families visit. They say the town now has a diverse group of people going around the town and it's more people-friendly than previous years.

About half of the post consists of things to do in Amherst, most of which, I haven't thought of before. Their first suggestion is to check out "the Notch," which oversees the entire Pioneer Valley and is just off 116. The one play I want to go to that they recommended was the Robert Frost trail. It seems like a nice place to take a walk.

There's another post identifying good places to go in Amherst, although I wish that this blog was a little more recent.

Bears in Yellowstone

video

I apologize for not having the most exciting video in the world, but it was the only one that was not completely boring and longer than three seconds. I took video of a black bear walking around when my family was in Yellowstone because they're very rare to see. 

Friday, October 24, 2008

Gay school?

In the Chicago Sun-Times, I saw a report yesterday about the possibility of having a gay-friendly high school in Chicago by 2010. The school will feature gay and lesbian historical figures into its cirriculum. The school would not be all homosexual students, but would be a large amount with the other percentage being allies. However, Mayor Daley is completley opposed to the plan saying that it segregates kids from the rest of the school and instead what's more important is for people who bully the kids to learn to accept them as part of their school. 

I'm going to have to agree with Daley. After all, weren't we supposed to be done with segregation a long time ago?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

At the boiling point


If you remember where we left off last time with the Jay Mariotti situation, you'll remember that he has gone off into blogging and TV world (not so much the blogging quite yet) after leaving the Chicago Sun-Times.

We are now in Chapter 2 of the Mariotti saga taking place in a sauna where he is met by former colleague and organizer of the departure of the disgruntled columnist, Rick Telander. "Well let's bury the hatchet," Mariotti says. Too bad Telander only had a scalpel.

The site that originally posted this information, On the DL, also shows another aspect of perhaps the larger problem of the Mariottis in the world.

ATH exists because of PTI which exists because of The Sports Reporters which exists because of The Sportswriters on TV, which he was a regular on. Now every media market in the country has a round-table newspaper kvetch-a-thon. Did he help create a monster?
The question posed has a point. Reporters/columnists have now abused their privelege of what being on TV was supposed to be about. Instead of having a good discussion about the national sports news and analyzing teams, it's become a bitch-fest where columnists now try to piss as many people off as possible.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chapter 9

Computer Columnist John C. Dvorak said in chapter 9, "Citizen journalism is like citizen professional baseball. You can't play pro baseball just because the Seattle Mariners stink."

This quote is supposed to mean that citizen journalism might become more prevelant in journalism, but it's not going to replace professional journalism. There is a certain level of professionalism and access that just won't be there with bloggers. 

Bloggers may be more unbiased or they might have the capability of scooping journalists, but very few bloggers are actually capable of getting interviews or have the journalism background to report ethically on big issues.

Anyone can sit at a computer and write something, but to apply ethics and theory along with good reporting takes a good education. It's similar to being good at baseball with your friends. You may be able to hit the ball 400 feet if your friend is pitching 60 miles an hour or pitch a fastball faster than Jamie Moyer, but you don't have the location that he does and you don't have the reflexes of a guy hitting homers with 90 mile an hour heat. 

It doesn't mean that the guy isn't a good baseball player because his skills are at a low minor league level, but he's not better than the average Seattle Mariners player. It's similar to how being a blogger and writing something that gets a million hits doesn't necessarily make you better than a NY Times writer just because you scooped him.

Thoughts on comment-producing post


A few weeks ago, I faced the challenge of trying to write a post that would attract as many comments as possible. I chose to write about the Chicago Cubs because at the time I wrote it, the NLDS loss was still fresh in Cubs' fans memories.

I wanted to get 100 comments, but I didn't come close, although I am still happy with the restuls (10 comments including one from me). I used a variety of ways to get people commenting on the blog. First, I IMed some of my friends and asked if they would mind posting something. However, I struggled to get many people that way. Then I wrote a massive Facebook post that seemed to get a decent amount of people. 

I still didn't feel like there were enough people posting so I decided to try the message boards. I found a few Cubs' message board that I posted on and a fantasy baseball message board. However, I only ended up receiving one post out of that group. He generated the most discussion of the group simply because he responded to one of my friends' comments. I tried to respond as well, but the discussion pretty much never came up because my friends didn't reply to the posts. 

The friend who John (the random guy) responded to told me he saw the reply, but didn't think there was anything more to say. Now that I've had a chance to evaluate how the post went, I think making that facebook post actually hurt me in some aspects because I encouraged everyone just to post, but I didn't do a good enough job at motivating discussion. 

The other problem with the post was that everyone agreed with what I had to say. The topic didn't seem that debatable after I posted it because it was a rational post. If I wanted to get more reaction, I should've said something  that would provoke more of an argument. 

Almost every post mentioned how I made a good point, which is nice to hear, but it doesn't allow for a whole lot of discussion. Perhaps I could've sparked the discussion by making a post about who is to blame for the Cubs not making the World Series.

That way, I would have a bunch of perspectives and spark disagreement about whose fault it was or cited some article about the Cubs and asked for perspective on that. The post was still a good experiment in trying to figure out what makes people engage in discussion how a blogger can get their message out to the world. 

Perhaps this is what makes Deadspin so popular. Not only are the posts witty, but the links are usually thought-provoking and cause many people to comment. My other problem was that the post is timely. Now that the NL and AL Champions are decided, it doesn't make much sense to have a discussion on a team that lost in the first round because everyone would rather talk about the teams playing. I'm sure all of those Cubs message boards aren't getting a whole lot of traffic right now since the season is over.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The mysterious blocked punt

Late in the third quarter the Massachusetts football team had a punt blocked by that ultimately decided the game. But, who blocked the punt? The PA announcer credited Eric McBride with the punt, but in the box score, Nicholas Battle got credit for the block. You would think the big-time journalists would get it right.

They didn't.

Even my sports editors disagreed. Eli Rosenswaike said McBride blocked it, Jeff Larnard said Battle. OK so they're more or less amateurs. What do the media relations people think? The UMass Athletics game wrap (written by Media Relations person Jason Yellin) says the play was made by McBride. 

The Richmond website credits Battle for the block. There's still no consensus over who blocked the punt. One Richmond newspaper website says Battle. So does the Republican, Gazette, and Boston Herald.

The Associated PressBoston Globe, and Enterprise News say McBride. I feel pretty good about the punt belonging to McBride, but it makes no sense that all the newspapers can't agree with each other considering it was the biggest play of the game. 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

'Swing Vote' comes to life in presidential debate

Tonight's debate was probably as close as you would get to the movie, 'Swing Vote' as both candidates tried to appeal to Joe "the plumber" Wurzelbacher. The reason why he appeals to Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain is that he is a small business owner that has done very well and is now going to buy the plumming business.

The dilemma is that he makes $250,000 per year. Under Obama's plan, his taxes are going to go up, which will make it more difficult for him to hire new employees. In addition, McCain is trying to convince Joe Plumber that if Obama is president, he will be expected to provide health care to all of his employees even though he would actually be exempt from that mandate.

However, he does have an interesting dilemma that will probably make him vote for McCain, although he isn't going to announce that publicly. He is symbolic of the economic debate between Republicans and Democrats. Should our system be survival of the fittest or are we our brother's keeper? 

In other words, do the rich need to pay more taxes so that the government can fund more programs for the poor and middle class that will allow them to spend more or should taxes be lowered for the rich so that they can spend money, which will trickle down to the other two classes? Joe is somewhere in-between the middle class and rich because he makes a large salary, but he had to work very hard to get there and he is an example of what it means to live the American dream.

His biggest problem with Obama is that the higher taxes might discourage him from buying the company because he wants to save that money to hire workers and help the company grow. Obama's argument is that he should pay the higher taxes because it will allow people like him to get to where he is five years down the road. Here is an interview with Joe. I've never heard of this organization before but I'm guessing they are Republican. The AP also has a story about him. 

Over the next few weeks, it will be interesting to see how the Joe Plumbers of the country decide to vote. There's been a lot on the middle-class, but Joe is an unusual breed of voters who also deserve to have their voices heard. 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

One 'Giant' headache


DEERFIELD, Ill.-- The picture you see above was the best I could get all night from the press box. It didn't help that I probably wasn't at the right angle, didn't have flash on, and could not figure out how to use my sister's digital SLR so that resulted in a really bad picture.

I forgot how much these games actually matter to our town, so I was stupid and left my house a half hour early in hopes that I might get to the school a little early and have some time to talk to people before going to work. Instead, I spent 20 minutes battling traffic and circling the school to get a parking spot.

About three minutes after the game started, I managed to find one that was pretty close to the stadium. I saw the massive line for tickets and remembering that I still have my high school ID, I flashed it to security before they asked me to hand it to them. They ended up confiscating it and telling me to get in line for a ticket. I budged the entire line anyway and paid. Luckily nobody stopped me for bringing in a backpack. 

I went up to the press box and was welcomed as one of the only people not working for the school (one writer from my local paper, the Deerfield Review, was there). I found myself as the unusal minority of people not cheering in the press box (even Media Relations people at UMass aren't allowed to cheer). I introduced myself, sat down, opened my computer and of course had no wi-fi. 

I asked one of the guys if they knew where I could pick up a stat sheet at halftime and they looked at me like I was from some foreign country. Twitter was probably the only multimedia aspect that went right last night. You can see my live blogging here.

After the game ended, I went down to talk to the coach. The only problem was that he wasn't ready to talk to me. He asked if I would wait awhile and I said yes. In the meantime, I talked to the dean who is also the baseball coach. He gave me back my ID and then gave me a hard time about being a hot shot trying to get into the game, which I responded by saying, "I'm a college student and I'm poor. Give me a break."

I never ended up talking to the coach after 45 minutes of waiting. Apparently he's never done a post-game interview before because the Review talks to him on Monday since it's a weekly. Then I ran into a bunch of girls from my high school who I've never met before that asked me if I worked for the Deerfield Review and if I could interview them. I responded by saying, "it's curfew, shouldn't you be going home now?" and drove home.

The game itself was pretty good because of how close it was, but I was annoyed the entire time. You can see my wrap in the post below.

Giants take first in conference after triple OT win

DEERFIELD, Ill.-- For much of the game, the Deerfield football team relied on running back Sean Sally to get the ball into the red-zone. When the game was on the line in the third overtime, Highland Park knew exactly what to do.

The Giants (5-2, 3-0 Central Suburban League North) stopped Sally for the first two plays of the drive, which forced Warriors coach Steve Winiecki to call for a desperation pass that never found the hands of a DHS receiver.

DHS (4-3, 2-1 CSL North) saved the drive when quarterback Jason Hendel came in to boot a 21-yard field goal, but it was the Giants who would ultimately determine the outcome of this game. Senior Anthony Kopp threw a 10-yard pass to wide receiver Brian Wilneff to drop a 28-24 decision over the Warriors.

Both teams dominated defensively in the first half and did not allow the other to get inside field goal range.

The running game was a key component to getting what little offense there was going in the first half as Hendel ran for 15 yards in the second quarter.

The senior’s success on the ground backfired near the end of the first half when he was sacked for an eight-yard loss. It was the last time Hendel would take snaps against HP after suffering a game-ending shoulder injury.

The injury meant that quarterback Matt Healy would enter the game in his first action at the varsity level.

Winiecki did not allow Healy to throw a single pass in the remaining two minutes of the first half as Sally continued to rack up the yards for the Warriors.

The scoreless game continued until there was 4:04 left in the third quarter when running back Courtney Frison put the Giants up 7-0 on an eight-yard run.

It took until the final seconds of the quarter before the Warriors had anything significant go their way. Senior Francisco Molina recovered a loose ball after forcing Kopp to fumble it on Deerfield’s 19-yard line.

Its first touchdown came two minutes into the fourth quarter when Healy threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to senior Milos Antic. The score followed up with an onside kick that gave the Giants a short field, but the ball came right back to the Warriors after a quick three-and-out.

Healy took matters into his own hands by running for the first down after completing a nine-yard pass on the previous play, but the ball would not stay with DHS for long. Center Greg Larmore botched a snap that led to a fumble recovery for HP on the Warriors’ 35-yard line.

Frison broke loose and ran for 11 yards, but the Warriors would recover the ball once again.

Junior Kyle Magnus intercepted a pass in the end zone and gave DHS possession at the 2-yard line, but resulted in a punt from its own goal-line. Both teams struggled at converting on third-down plays and forced the game into extra time.

In the first OT, Healy recovered his own fumble and threw a touchdown pass to senior Luke Cohen. Kopp responded with a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brad Schwartz.

The quarterback would get the ball back in the second overtime, but threw two incomplete passes before hooking up with Wilneff to put the Giants ahead.

Healy found Cohen again on the first play and forced the third overtime, but eventually had to settle on a field goal, which cost Deerfield its first conference loss.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Most likely not so sweet home, Chicago


DEERFIELD, Ill.- That dateline was completely unnecessary, but anyway I'm home for the weekend and tonight I will cover my old high school (Deerfield High School) against their biggest rival Highland Park tonight at 7:30 p.m. CST (that means 8:30 for the rest of you).

The Warriors (4-2, 2-0 Central Suburban League North) generally hasn't done well against the Giants (4-2, 2-0 CSL North), but considering they are Deerfield's biggest rivalry, the stands are probably going to be packed.  This game has quite a bit of meaning to it considering both teams are on top of the division and one of them is going to have their first conference loss.

Here are some stats on the Warriors

I'm expecting that attending the game will be very awkward, but it should be fun to write about. First, DHS coach Steve Winiecki told me that I am allowed to interview after the game, but I can't do it right after the game and I have a "very short" time limit. I most likely will be sitting in the stands and perhaps I can sneak into the press box, but that's unlikely. 

I talked to my old paper's (Deerprints) Sports Editor, Tyler Bail about the game. According to him, "We're not covering the team this month because we're doing a feature on this freshman who's good at Karate." I then asked him his thoughts on the game, "I'm not going. The team is just mediocre." So much for getting that perspective tonight.

I'm guessing that being an alum isn't going to matter much tonight. I'll probably have to pay to get in and when I was there, they had an anti-bag policy so getting my lap top in will be tricky. I'm sure I'll probably get a lot of weird looks and questions where someone is going to ask, "what are you doing here?" 

Oh well.

I'm going to try to make this as much of a convergence journalism night as possible with my camera that can shoot video along with taking pictures (if I'm lucky, I'll get my sister's digital SLR for the night). I just realized that my high school probably isn't quite there with technology as Rudd Field is so live blogging will be a bit difficult.

Instead, I'm going to blog though my Blackberry on Twitter. If you want to follow the game (seriously, are you that bored on a Friday night?), it will be #dhsfootball. Feel free to talk about the game (although there's no way to follow the information besides me) but it might take awhile to respond since I will have to go through my phone to see if anyone else is using the hashtag besides me. 

After the game, I'll post 5-600 words on a recap and then do another post about my experience covering it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

McCain vs. Obama debate part 2 analysis

For anyone who missed the debate, here is the transcript of the debate. I also have a video from YouTube below.


The UMass Twitter discussion once again got very popular as a trending topic, but was hijacked by the Obama and McCain campaigns correcting each other near the end of the debate. There was also a problem with lag time.

This time the delay was around 15 minutes per post, which made most of them either responses to what a candidate is saying or a repeat of what McCain or Obama just said.

One of the big stories about the actual debate, and something several posters commented on was on Tom Brokaw's moderating. The NBC anchor did a good job of trying to keep tabs on candidates.

I'm trying to play by the rules that you all established. One minute for discussion.

However the candidates ignored him and continued rambling on, but A+ for effort, Mr. Brokaw. He did the best job of moderating and unfortunately was probably the only one doing the straight talking or doing what was in the best interests of the American people. He was also popular with many of the students who were Twitting.

AlGiordano posed an interesting question: Is Brokaw overplaying the referee role in trying to enforce the clock?

My response to this was that Brokaw was doing his job in keeping them to the time limit and on topic. The reason why Brokaw's role was ok is because when the moderator lets the candidates ramble too long it becomes a speech contest rather than a debate.

Lehrer did a good job at trying to get the candidates to talk to each other. This debate it happened a lot more so maybe in the third debate, they can keep to the time limit.

Much of the debate had to do with the economy, specifically the candidates' health care plan. McCain's plan is to give a $5,000 tax cut while taxing the health insurance as part of a person's salary. Essentially, he is betting that the insurance is going to be worth more than the $5,000 so it's more like a discounted tax instead of a plan to make insurance cheaper.

Obama plans to make health insurance more affordable by rolling back the same taxes that George W. Bush initially cut (anyone making $250,000). That tax money will go to lower the costs of people's insurance or make the insurance that people already have a little cheaper.

Overall, the win goes to Obama because McCain took too many cheap shots and didn't offer enough solutions. It wasn't a knockout, but this debate was good for the Illinois senator to make his case for why he can get the American people out of this economic disaster.

You can bet the third debate is going to be a lot of defense from Obama, who will do everything he can to stick strictly to the question while McCain will be on the offensive. He needs to dig up something original that strikes a nerve with voters or else Obama will win this election in a landslide.

The real Cubs' curse is the pressure of winning now


At the beginning of the 2008 MLB season, it was pretty common that you would see a season preview like this when talking about the Chicago Cubs. The theme centered around it being 100 years since the Cubs last won a World Series (1908).

When you read player quotes, you'll see that they try to be ignorant and forget the history. In the MLB preview, shortstop and second baseman Ryan Theriot said:
We want to win for the city of Chicago and ourselves and this organization, and not because of the length of time since we had a championship.
It really doesn't matter that Theriot said it. Put anyone's name there and it will still ring true. Every player and Manager refuse to make any mention of Chicago's history or admit that there is added pressure.

Raise your hand if you believe that the Cubs don't face any pressure from their team's history. I'm guessing nobody is going to disagree with that; there certainly is a stronger sense of urgency being inside Wrigley Field.

In some ways, fans and reporters put the Cubs players in a similar position as New York Yankees. While the Yankees are hammered with the expectation that anything short of a championship is a failure, the Cubs are hammered with the cynicism of being failures until they win a championship.

That message seems to affect Chicago more than its willing to admit. Look at stats from the regular season, the Cubs are clearly better, although it's a little skewed with Manny Ramirez only being part of the team for the last part of the season.

But considering how the Dodgers clobbered the Cubs, his production can be taken out of the playoffs for comparison's sake and it still doesn't make much sense. Over the years, plenty of things have happened to Chicago where the easy answer is to blame the curse, but perhaps the more appropriate label is that the belief of the curse is what causes the Cubs to choke or have bad luck over the course of the years.

It doesn't seem rational that the Cubs would make four infield errors during game two or how Alfonso Soriano hit under .100 the entire series. It's not a curse, rather it's the high expectations that come from being a Cub.

Even the Steve Bartman incident could've been avoided if Moises Alou just kept his big yap shut when Bartman caught the foul ball. I can't explain why, but there is a weird connection that players have with one another and the entire team seems to feed off different players' emotions.

For instance, back when Manny being Manny was actually embraced by the Boston Red Sox, his laid back attitude to the game caused the rest of the team to be laid back, which eventually led to a 2004 Championship and the Red Sox "reversed the curse."

If Soriano ever came into spring training and said anything besides how focused he is on winning and anything short of a championship is a failure for next season, Cubs fans would call for his head and want him out of Chicago. Yet perhaps there was something that Chicago could learn from a team that calls itself a bunch of idiots.

Even the Cubs songs go along with the win-or-die attitude, literally. Steve Goodman's song "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request" is pretty much the general feeling among most fans. Witnessing a Cubs' World Series ranks somewhere on the top of the list of lifetime goals, but we are trained to be pessimistic whenever it looks like the Lovable Losers (another way of demeaning recent Cubs teams) will turn it around.


I can't think of anyone other than Cubs fans who wonder out loud if they will die before Chicago wins a World Series, and that includes teenagers. When Management reaches an apocolypse and puts together a team that wins the World Series, they will do it with underachieving players and a low budget instead of a team like they have now where it's a high budget and constant pressure to win now.

The Red Sox set an example for the Cubs in assembling a championship team that is only worried about themselves instead of how the media and fans perceive them. Perhaps if players like Ryan Dempster stopped guaranteeing World Series and putting so much pressure on themselves a ring will follow.

After a disappointing season in 2002, the Cubs assembled a scrappy group that came very close to making the World Series. Instead of going after an ace like CC Sabathia as most fans would prefer, they should get more guys like DeRosa, a multi-position guy who can get the hits when needed. It's an unpopular move, but after this past collapse, the Cubs might as well keep expectations low and just hope to make the playoffs every year.



Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Daily Beast Review

One thing that pops out about The Daily Beast is its organization. The site has a cheat sheet which shows the day's top stories in short little summaries that are attached with a link.

That link can come from either a news site or blog. They also pick stories that are likely to peak people's interests such as the story about Bernacke lowering the interest rates.

Daily Beast's stories seem to give the site a lot of credibility. They cover both politics and Hollywood and use several means of covering the news. On the front page, the site has an interview with Tony Blair and has a combination of news and editorial pieces.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

LIVE BLOG: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs

I'm going to be doing some live blogging for the Dodgers vs. Cubs game. I am a Cubs fan and would like nothing more than for Chicago to break its 100-year drought since its last World Series Championship. The Dodgers thumped the Cubs last night, 7-2. Tonight should be considered a must-win because tonight's pitcher, Carlos Zambrano is the best Cubs' pitcher and if he can't get the Cubs a win, they will go 0-2. In other words, if the Cubs don't win tonight, this thing is over.

GAME OVER: Dodgers win 10-3. Well the Cubs made it interesting and decided to hit in the ninth inning. Too bad that didn't happen earlier in the game. I don't know what to say, why can't the Cubs do well in the playoffs?

End of seventh: The Cubs are showing a little bit of offense, but it might be too little too late. The score is 7-1.

Middle of seventh: Wrigley Field should be blaring "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," but given how the Cubs are down 7-0, I'm sure nobody is singing.

End of sixth: I had to get some wings to eat my sadness. Here's a question, why does Alfonso Soriano feel like he needs to free-swing at every at-bat he ever takes? It would certainly curtail all of those strikeouts.

End of fifth: Jim Edmonds almost had a solo shot but Ramirez got the ball back at the warning track and went into the ivy. If he was on the Red Sox, I bet that would be a double. The Cubs continue to disappoint. I officially hate this assignment.

Middle of fifth: How do the Cubs manage to screw this up every playoff series? This is absolute torture. Manny Ramirez led off the inning with a home run which followed with a walk. Luckily the Cubs managed to get a double play of their own. Will the Cubs' offense PLEASE wake up?

End of fourth: The Cubs are starting to show a pulse, barely, but it's something. Derrick Lee led off the inning with a deep ball to left field. Ramirez almost grounded into a double play but Lee's hand blocked Blake DeWitt from completing the play. And then DeRosa gives the Dodgers a chance to get another double play.

Middle fourth: Aramis Ramirez committed an error and allowed Rafael Furcal to bring over Billingsley. Zambrano strikes out catcher Russell Martin and doesn't allow the Dodgers to do anymore damage. Hopefully Manager Lou Piniella doesn't do something stupid like bring in a reliever in the fifth inning.

Bottom three: Another wasted inning. Dodgers' pitcher Chad Billingsley walked Carlos Zambrano, which is a little unusual unless you're facing a guy who can hit. Zambrano has hit several home runs in his career and hit over .300 this season. Soriano poped out and Theriot hit an easy grounder to get Zambrano out at second. The Dodgers are the worst team in the playoffs (besides maybe the White Sox). What is going on here?

Middle third: Zambrano recovers nicely this inning. Very efficient. He's thrown 50 pitches in three innings. Let's hope he can give seven innings and not give up a run... and the Cubs really need to do some scoring.

Bottom of the second: 1-2-3 inning. This is torture.

Middle of the second: The Dodgers are up 5-0. This cannot be happening. Unless Chicago pulls off a miracle, this game is already over. The Cubs have made THREE ERRORS in the inning. First off, why would shortstop Ryan Theriot try to bare-hand a grounder like that? His error allowed runners on first and third with no outs. Derrick Lee bobbled an easy play at first and Mark DeRosa looked awful fielding his position.

End of first: Soriano doubled, but nothing else happened. Aramis Ramirez hit a ball deep, but no dice. Stay tuned.


Middle of the first inning: Zambrano got through the inning with no hits. I'm holding my breath.



Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pondering nostalgia lane...

I'm going home for Columbus day weekend. I wouldn't usually announce this on my blog if it wasn't for this idea I just came up with. I used to cover the high school football team and they happen to be having their biggest game of the year because they're playing the big rival.

I'm working on possibly stringing this game for my town's paper. At the very least, I think it would be interesting to see what it's like covering my old team. I'm not sure how I'm going to structure this. I'm thinking I'd like to package this as a live blog, a wrap and maybe a sidebar in three posts. I could also do some convergence journalism by taking pictures, video, sound bites (is that possible?) from the game.

Who knows, maybe I could twitter this too somehow although I'll see what I can handle.

I also think I could use the current Sports Editor to put some perspective on the team, maybe post an interview with him or something. I think this will be a fun idea. What does everyone think? Good idea or really creepy?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

-777


The number you see in the title is how many points the market went down in one day. That's the worst drop Wall Street has ever seen in U.S. history and it's because congress failed a $700 billion dollar bailout to help out businesses.

I'm not going to talk about my feelings on this, but I am going to talk about the media coverage throughout the day between Drudge Report, the New York Times, and The Huffington Post. One thing that I saw on just about every page was the graph that shows the Dow plummeting.

The New York Times is currently reporting about the Asian Markets taking a dive as a result of the plunge from this afternoon and this was the story that kept updating throughout the day. Here was the top story in the Huffington Post. It blamed Bush's economic policies for the stock market dive.

The Drudge Report had a big headline that ran for most of the day that said, "Down in Flames." The headline had a picture of Bush and speaker Nancy Pelosi looking disappointed over today's bad news.

As a result, Barack Obama and John McCain played politics and tried to blame each other for what happened today. Some Republicans also blamed Pelosi for a speech against the bill. The Huffington Post poked fun at McCain for saying that now is not the time to play politics, yet still attacked Obama.

The media concentrated on Obama's reaction to the crisis in saying that he is sure everything will go well if the American people calm down. If there was anything that was similar about all three sources, it's that there was no shortage of hyperbole to describe the market today.

The other top story for the day was about how Sarah Palin was preparing for the interview with Joe Biden. The Huffington Post cited the New York Times in a story about how there are concerns over how prepared Palin is for the debate.

I really didn't notice much from the Drudge Report on Palin's readiness, but the NY Times had multiple articles concerning this issue. The articles characterize Palin as someone who doesn't have the knowledge to compete with Biden while calling him a loose cannon when it comes to debate.

Huffington has an article here that refers to the interview Palin had with Katie Couric. The piece states how CBS has a clip of Palin saying she doesn't know about any other court cases besides Roe V. Wade. I found that the coverage overall today was full of news content and did a remarkable job of editorializing (including the NY Times although they package it as analysis).

Extremely pompous, incredibly conceited

Our Journalism for the Web class did some blogging for Jonathan Foer’s speech on Tuesday. The blogging was done through Twitter, a place where people can send live updates of what they are doing and follow others around.


Foer addressed his speech to the Commonwealth College Dean’s Book classes at the University of Massachusetts, who read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Here is a summary of his book in case you are in the same position as me and don’t know what it’s about.


His speech mostly addressed how he was going to address the questions about his book and admitted that he is probably going to ignore and dodge plenty of questions on purpose.


UMass journalism teacher Scott Brodeur opened up the hour and a half discussion on Twitter with a post stating, “Jonathan Safran Foer is speaking at UMass on Tuesday. And a group of students will be live-blogging it via Twitter.”


Foer began his address admitting that he did not have his nice clothes with him because three of his buttons mysteriously disappeared. Brodeur commented on the auditorium at the UMass Fine Arts Center being packed.


He guessed that there were likely about 1,500 people there while Scott Feldman, a student for Journalism on the Web estimated that at least 1,000 people were attending the question and answer session.


One of the problems I had in going to the lecture was that I wasn’t aware of the context he was talking about since I didn’t know much about the book. I talked to some people who were actually in Commonwealth College about their thoughts on him.


The students who actually read the book believe that he was clever, witty and brilliant. I feel like most of the class, if not, all of the class didn’t get that perception of him.


For instance, in the beginning where Foer said that he dodges a lot of questions on purpose my friends thought that it represented his wit while many people in the class thought that he was just being foolish.


“Who is this guy, Bill Bellicek? Gave us a warning that it seems like he often dodges questions, supported this with four quotes,” Michael Handley said.


Some of the posts just highlighted good quotes or quotes that seemed interesting. I thought Foer managed to be interesting, but his overall attitude rubbed me the wrong way. My ComCol friends tell me that I would have been more understanding if I read the book.


One thing that Stella quoted that I really liked was when Foer said, “people think art is free… in reality, freedom constrains you.”


It took me some thinking to understand what he truly meant, but I think what he is saying with this quote is the fact that when people have freedom, the expectations of producing something great are a lot higher. In other words, we would have a hard time doing something that we want to do and instead focus on what everyone else expects from us.


In a way, Foer attempts to shatter this dilemma by saying something that is unpredictable. The one quote that really got to me was when he said, “I am a writer, not a journalist.” This quote is supposed to suggest that he doesn’t have to stick to the facts exactly as they are presented. In fact, he doesn’t even have to pay attention to the facts.


After I heard him say that, I wondered if he was taking a cheap shot at journalists. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was because Foer is willing to go after anyone and he speaks his mind.


The bottom line that we got from his questions is that Foer primarily uses the audience to answer their own questions. He does this because he likes to know how the audience interprets his work.


The catch is that for any question he’s asked, he expects that person to know exactly what they’re talking about.


“Ask questions at your own risk. Foer will bring you down a notch if you don’t bring you’re a game,” Handley said.


I noticed that Katelyn and Andrea bought the book. I’m curious to know if their opinions about him changed after reading some of his work.