Tuesday, September 30, 2008


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.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

'Look at me when you insult my tax cuts'

If anyone missed the presidential debate Friday night, I included it here. I am also including a review on how TIME rates the candidates during the debate.

What you'll notice about the debate is that the moderator Jim Lehrer constantly tells Barack Obama and John McCain to look at each other and talk rather than looking and talking to the camera. Obama does it a few times but McCain has a hard time grappling with that idea.

I thought this was a cool idea and I hope all the debates can have a similar format. Perhaps the candidates debate prep people can stress this idea so it can actually sound like a debate instead of a speech contest.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Now I've seen it all

Who is the best 8-year-old basketball player in the country? Go on Youtube and you will see plenty of hype for that claim going to Marquise Walker. His father has worked with a few cunning marketing gurus to market his son so that he will get to play college basketball.

He even has a who's who of NBA and college players saying how great they think he is.

The problem with hyping him up as much as his father did is that there is a lot of pressure for him to be a great NBA player. Anything less than being LeBron James, even if he makes the NBA, will probably make him a failure.

The thing is that even if this kid plays Division II basketball, he is a success story already. Anything more is icing on the cake. Walker's dad is probably living off Marquise's fame already, but hopefully this kid doesn't lose his innocence and become a bust.

He is certainly very good for his age and has a very bright future ahead of him but a lot can change. How much is he going to grow and can his skills live up to his potential?

ESPN did a terrific piece on him that I hope you all check out. What do you think of his dad? Smart entrepreneur or is this exploitation?

Unfortunately youtube decided not to work when I felt like posting a clip of him so here's a link to one of about 55 of his clips.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Even Obama wouldn't be proud about this

An 11-year-old boy was suspended from school after wearing a shirt that says, "Obama is a terrorist's best friend." As much as I support presidential candidate Barack Obama, I value the freedom of speech even more. 

I think it's sad that the boy is being brainwashed to believe that, but there is no reason for him not beling allowed to wear the shirt. I hope the school will reverse their ruling and allow the boy to wear that shirt.

Monday, September 22, 2008

LIVE BLOG: David Maraniss

I'm currently sitting in the second row listening to author David Maraniss give a speech entitled, "Playing for Keeps: Race, Sports, and Politics." I will do a live blog throughout his speech giving reaction at certain points. I asked some staff member if I could plug in my lap top and I got a yes with plenty of dirty looks. Oh well.

David is beginning to talk. I'll give an update every half hour.

5:58 p.m: My sister and mom are currently getting a snack and trying to find me so I guess I have some time to spare. I had the second to last question asking him who his favorite interview was and Maraniss answered that it was a commander in the Vietnam War simply because he was wowed by the experiences he shared. It wasn't was I expected considering there were all these big-name sports figures I know he's talked to. The Q and A session really showed his large span of knowledge because he would address topics that had nothing to do with the previous question one right after the other. Great lecture and I'm out before these Intro to Journalism people hound me for an interview.

5:45 p.m: Unrelated but my sister is visiting me and wants to go to dinner. I'll blog about the end a bit later.

5:30 p.m: Q and A is starting so I'll go ahead and sum up the second half of his speech. Maraniss talks about Bill Clinton and Barack Obama's history with race and sports. He identifies Clinton as a key leader for reform in Arkansas during 1963. He helped many black Arkansas students pass classes who otherwise wouldn't have had the resources to pass. Obama shook him up so much that the media accused him of being racist. The most interesting thing he says about Clinton is how he always takes mulligans in golf and that's how he approaches his life. For him every day is a chance at fixing his mistake. It's a packed house and I don't think anyone here is bored. Everyone has something at stake in his speech whether its an interest in sports, politics, the sociology, or journalism. He finds a way to tie in any sporting event to a historical and political event. This guy could do some really interesting E:60 pieces. He speaks about race without being cliche and he talks about politics without being partisan.

5 p.m: Maraniss just told this great story about an Ethiopian who won the gold medal in Rome's Olympic games in 1960 without having any shoes. An American told his teammate that they had nothing to worry about. The irony here is that prior to the Olympic games, Italy invaded Ethiopia. He also talks about what was going on in America a few months before this race took place. I enjoy how the speech effectively ties together the three themes of race, sports, and politics. He addreses the criticism that sports is trivial and doesn't matter by showing how the Cold War and Olympics forced the U.S. to stop its hypocricy and treat African Americans better.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Clutch reporting

Yes, this is another Collegian story having to do with UMass women's soccer. I'm sorry if anyone gets bored with my little stories with the Daily Collegian, but this is a journalism class so I figured I'd share them.

My beat writer, David Brinch, was supposed to write a sidebar story on Vanessa Lima and Vanessa Patry, but he couldn't get the interviews together and was relying on my interview notes from my conversation with Coach Rudy to get his piece together. I made a judgment call when I heard that one of the defensive players for the Minutewomen, Meghan Collins, has a sister on Providence who they are playing on Sunday.

I immediately asked the follow up questions where I could try to help Brinch get a new sidebar together. I called him back and since he was busy and didn't get all the background that I got asked if I could write the sidebar in addition to my preview. I knew this was going to be quite the challenge because I've never had to write two pieces on deadline before, but he offered to take the wrap and I liked the idea anyway so I just went with it.

My next challenge was to get an interview with Collins. I called Jillian (Media Relations) once again and apologized profusely for being last minute because it's something the editors used to kill us for last year and wouldn't be happy about me doing this now either.

Like one of my former editors Jeremy Rice said, "You need to work with Media Relations and they need to work with you. We are a team that needs each other. I shouldn't be getting calls from John Sinnett saying that he doesn't have time to schedule an interview for hockey because he has to get interviews at the last minute for swimming and diving."

OK, last time I didn't have a valid excuse, but this time it was last minute and there seriously was nothing I could do. Jillian called Collins, but for some reason had the wrong number. In the meantime, I started my story at 4 p.m. during my computer literacy class only to receive a text from Justin and helped me get the interview straight. I told him to have Collins call the Collegian since my cell phone gets no reception down there.

At 5:45, I finish the preview with no call from Collins. Naturally, I take care of my stress problems by ordering food at the Blue Wall. As soon as I'm in an area where I can get cell phone coverage, I get a text message from Melissa asking for a copy of the paper so she can read my article.

That was pretty much my highlight of the night.

I came down, called Justin and asked if he knew whether Collins would call me. He told me that she should've called me already and as he said that, she called me and I hung up on him. I got the interview and article done by 7:45. Mission accomplished.

Seriously, Justin should be hired to do Media Relations for a pro sports team the minute he graduates. He obviously cares a lot about UMass sports, but he always finds a way to get me whatever I need for my story. Had anyone else but Justin handle this situation, there was no way I would've gotten my interview with Collins and I'd essentially be screwed.

Anyway, Sunday is rumored to be decision day for winter beats. I'm only going to be here for a semester (studying abroad second semester), but I would still like to get men's basketball while I'm still here. I truly think that I am prepared and working with one of the most professional coaches at UMass in Rudy helped me so I could make the adjustment to basketball, where Coach Kellogg will be mobbed by local and national media.

There's going to be some adjustment if I end up getting basketball, but it would be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"No-Compete" clause prevents Mariotti from reaching new level of douchebaggedness

Whispers of former Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti going to the Chicago Tribune have been officially silenced.

According to Deadspin.com and the Chicago Tribune, Mariotti could not clear the legal hurdles of a no-compete clause in his contract with his former newspaper. The Tribune was planning on using him as a web columnist, but the Tribune lawyers could not find a way that would allow the Tribune to hire him.

Deadspin had a great post about this when they responded to the following from the Tribune

Sources at Tribune Co. confirmed conversations with Mariotti had been held, but Chicago Tribune Editor Gerould Kern would only say late Tuesday that "we have no plans to hire Jay Mariotti.'
with this:
It's good to know that the Chicago Tribune writer here, Jim Kirk, has "sources within the Tribune Co." That's some mighty fine reportin' there, Lou.
I laughed as soon as I read that. It's a little weird to hear the Tribune quoting an inside source from their own newspaper. It sort of raises a bigger question, why did the Tribune have to "report" on this? Couldn't they just release a statement about what happened?

As terrible as this could've been, the Sun-Times deserve it with how they treated Mariotti's departure from the paper. The Sun-Times apparently sent the Tribune a nasty letter from their attorneys threatening to sue if they hire Mariotti in any capacity. Anyway, it works out for the best that he gets to restart his career somewhere other than Chicago.

Minutewomen in Albany

The Massachusetts women's soccer team is in Albany starting a two-game road stretch against the Great Danes and Providence. Make sure to check out the Collegian today for my friend David Brinch's preview and my sidebar on the UMass defense. My sports editor called it the best sidebar he has seen all year (sorry Feldman).

I decided to write about the defense sort of last minute, but got Coach Rudy no problem. The problem came when I realized I needed a player interview and it was the night before my story was due.

I called Jillian (Media Relations) to see if she could set me up with Melissa Toulouse from our class and instead received a call from another Media Relations guy, Justin. He told me the whole situation was kind of iffy and he would call me back if this didn't work.

I was planning on watching TV the rest of the night because I figured Justin would call at some point telling me that Mel either wouldn't be able to do an interview or it had to be done Tuesday afternoon (hopefully at a time I don't have to cut class).

Instead, Melissa called me and I had to think of an interview on the spot. I didn't really have an idea of what I wanted to ask so I thought of a few questions and yelled at my roommate to turn the TV down as I situated myself in front of the computer with the phone on speaker.

I felt that it was a good interview because I got some good information on the defense and she got right to the point. A lot of times I'll hear about how the team works really hard in practice and everyone plays as a team and they'll stop there. 

That's unbelievably cliche and it gets annoying because those two traits are something you would hear from just about any team. In fact, if it wasn't the case, I'd probably write a big story on that.

Mel talked about what actually was going on during practice and what the defense does on the field to ensure that the offense stays away from the goal. It's always nice interviewing a journalism major. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Difference between Huffington Post, Drudge Report

The major difference that I noted between Drudge Report and the Huffington Post is that the Post looks more like a site for a major news organization while Drudge Report is more like a tabloid.

Drudge has links to other sites but normally won't create their own posts. The Post writes mini posts as if they are news stories and you'll also see frequent columns.

Both sites like to link out to official news organizations although the Huffington Post will link to other blogs as well.

The one thing they both have in common is that they have big headlines and use a lot of pictures. Most of the pictures are ones that probably wouldn't be in newspapers as they portray a certain image. The stories will usually be about something provocative and will draw a lot of comments.

A few clips from my interviews

VIDEO: Minutewomen beat Holy Cross in overtime - Multimedia

Our photo editor, Brian Tedder said he needed this for a job clip so I'd figure I would post it since it shows Massachusetts women's soccer coach Jim Rudy responding to some questions as well as sophomore Therese Smith and senior Vanessa Patry. 

Those two were pretty funny during the interview (see Patry pretending to do header).

Journalist does NOT = computer nerd

I read chapter three of James Foust's Online Journalism and there was one thing that caught my eye as a journalism major.

Although it is relatively easy to understand, HTML has many different aspects.

Uh, what? Sure, there were some things that were easy to understand such as tags and styles, but it's going to take awhile to figure out.

I thought the whole point of journalism was to not have to be a computer science major, but there I was reading a chapter about programming. HTML is supposed to be easy according to my dad, who did computer programming, but I'm not catching on yet.

At some point, I'll probably have to pick this up because journalism is going to be online but hopefully it will come easy to me at some point.

Monday, September 15, 2008

SNL at its best

I decided to add this video because it's probably one of the funnier skits I've seen on SNL in a long time. Tina Fey should do nothing else besides play Sarah Palin. 

Friday, September 12, 2008

The next 3 a.m. crisis

From everything I've heard about the upcoming Hurricane Ike, it looks like it could be even more catastrophic than Katrina. The comments coming from the National Weather Service are quite strong and there is no question that it's going to test presidential nominees John McCain and Barack Obama.

If you've seen the Hillary Clinton 3 a.m. commercial, you'll hear some pundits debate over whether the candidates are ready for that phone call.

The first instance of this was the conflict between Georgia and Russia. Both candidates came out with statements on how they would support this conflict. Ike is going to be the next instance of that.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

UMass wins first game

I just finished my article on today's game, which I hope everyone reads in the Daily Collegian tomorrow. Here is a small teaser of my article for anyone interested.

Yesterday’s game might have felt a little short compared to the Massachusetts women’s soccer team’s previous three games. That’s because it was the first game of the regular season to end in regulation, but even more important for the Minutewomen was ending the game with a 2-0 victory over Bryant.

The Bulldogs (1-4-0) played with an aggressive offense, bringing as many as five players forward in addition to an attacking defense. The strategy caused a few problems for UMass (1-1-2) as it was forced to end some of its runs prematurely with nine offsides calls charged against the Minutewomen.

“I think we were at times perplexed by the highness of the offside line and how often they played it,” UMass coach Jim Rudy said. “We’re always looking for the though ball and it was hard to build up. I wish we could’ve gotten in again earlier and lock [the game] up in the first half.”

Once again, UMass coach Jim Rudy helped myself and beat partner David Brinch out a lot with this game. The one remarkable thing about the game was his scouting report that he shared with me was dead on.

He predicted that Bryant would stay resilient through the game, play five offensive players forward and that they had a really inconsistent goalkeeper. All three of those came true. In fact, the second goal came because he knew she could kick a ball short at anytime.

That exact situation happened late in the game and junior Christina Adams hit a relatively easy second goal, keeping the game out of reach even if the Bulldogs were to make one last run.

The next game is Sunday against Holy Cross.

Encountering some interesting activism on the way to lunch

As I waited for a friend today near Franklin, I couldn't help but notice this sign near the dining common. I decided to take a picture with my phone so I would have an image to go with this post and so everyone can see it.

The post is pretty much against the new panhandling law in Northampton that is designed against people begging for money. The group "Food, Not Bombs" uses a deceptive picture of an African American getting arrested in order to make the case that the new law turns a blind eye to poverty.

Well, there are problems with the new law, but it doesn't involve arresting homeless people as the organization would like you to believe.

The problem is that many of these people charged won't have a way of paying the escalating fine from $50 that comes with breaking the law. And it will be hard to go after the people who this law is trying to stop, since, if they're on the street, they're probably homeless.

I want to stop poverty as much as the next person, in fact, I have volunteered at homeless shelters. I understand that most people who beg for money actually need it, but panhandling can cause a lot of problems, none of which this organization refers to, instead choosing to play the sympathy card.

I grew up in a wealthy suburb around 45 minutes outside downtown Chicago so I'm not going to pretend that I know what these people are going through. What I do know, is that panhandling is a big problem in Chicago, and I'm glad that Northampton is doing something about it, before it becomes a problem.

The thing I always find interesting is when there is someone begging for money to buy food and smoking cigarettes at the same time. With the price of cigarettes in Chicago, why wouldn't they just use that money on food if they are that poor? Besides, it can get very annoying really quickly to listen to panhandlers on every block ask for money.

Another issue I have with them is that you have no idea where that money is going. It could be for drugs, sex, who knows? It can also get dangerous at times as I'll read or hear from the Chicago media at any point during the week that some panhandlers can get very forceful, resorting to some sort of assault if they don't get their way.

Imagine how the community would react if a Smith student was either raped or killed randomly in a city that prides itself on diversity yet is aristocratic in many ways. Students from there, or UMass can walk pretty much anywhere without feeling threatened.

Ask a student from a place like Duke, Maryland, Temple or Syracuse and they probably could understand this issue from Northampton's point of view. The town isn't trying to turn a blind-eye to poverty, Northampton is simply making sure that Smith students can enjoy themselves without having to watch their back.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A journalism guy who just doesn't get it

Any sports fan that hasn't heard of Deadspin certainly has to know about the site by now. That's because the previous Editor in Chief of the site, Will Lietch appeared on Costas Now with Buzz Bissinger, one of the more famous sports writers of all time.

Bissinger repeated something that you'll hear from journalists often when they complain about blogging. They think it's profane, irresponsible and cowardly. As Bissinger started cussing Lietch out, Costas read some of the more inappropriate comments from the site and even referred to the name of one of the posters, "Balls Deep."

Leonard Shapiro from the Washington Post wrote about the showdown between Bissinger and Lietch, who also isn't shy about insulting blogs either.
Bissinger's concerns should be all of our concerns. Do we want our sports-infatuated kids to grow up reading Deadspin and Kissing Suzy Kolber (don't ask), or would we prefer them to peruse the internet or their local library to read the wonderful work of Red Smith, Shirley Povich, Jim Murray, Dan Jenkins and yes, most definitely Buzz Bissinger?
Like any other publication, Deadspin isn't perfect and it can have biting humor that can be offensive. But they too, have their own standards to fulfill as they will lose credibility with readers if they don't maintain a higher level of writing.

Why doesn't blogger make things easy?

I'm trying to figure out how to make blogger.com say "read more." I hope this works.


Does this work? I hope so

Monday, September 8, 2008

Anonymous overkill?

More and more, I'm hearing the use of anonymous sources in pretty much every story and at some points I wonder if it's really necessary.

I know it seems like the stone ages since this happened, but anonymous sources once didn't exist. In fact, I don't know if there was ever a time where they were used prior to the Watergate scandal.

But today, it seems like the amount of on the record sources are diminishing more and more by the day. The main reason for this is because rather than waiting for something to become official, the reports are mostly rumor and the news organization just hopes they got it right.

I haven't figured out a reason why inside sources from the White House would disclose something that's not official or why they bother commenting on something that they aren't allowed to talk about.

Many times the source doesn't even say something that has a whole lot of value. You'll hear from a news organization that an anonymous source told news organization x that George Bush is going to have lunch with Laura today.

OK it's not that ridiculous, but we can all probably find a time where we heard an anonymous source cited for something that shouldn't be all that confidential. When writers sign up for the Collegian, they are prohibited from using anonymous sources as its too easy to make something up from that.

I can count on one hand the amount of times I have heard editors cite anonymous sources, and those were times when keeping the source off the record actually mattered. I know news organizations have to fill space on their websites and air-time on TV, but is it that hard to expect the media to have an on-the-record source and make sure its actually true?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Palin granting first interview

Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin finally decided to grant an interview to ABC's Charlie Gibson. Hopefully this will be the first of many interviews she gives because the American voters need to get to know her better if she expects to have a spot in the White House.

McCain, Obama and Biden all gave interviews this week. I'm sure Gibson will ask some tough questions so we'll see how this first interview goes. I know I'll be watching.

Friday, September 5, 2008

McCain strategists, Palin committing media faux pas

The Republican nominee's Vice Presidential pick Sarah Palin just doesn't seem to get it.

I know she's new to the national scene, but Palin can't just hop onto the political scene as the potential second-highest position in office and expect to have her way. One of John McCain's advisers, Nicole Wallace has already announced she won't be granting any interviews and will only be seen in speeches.

The McCain campaign believes that the media has treated her so unfairly that nobody deserves to interview her. I can understand thinking that if she was already qualified and the only thing the media asked her was about her pregnant daughter Bristol, but she is so unknown that it is in her best interests to give interviews in order to portray her view of her experience to the nation.

Most of the media will probably be skeptical, as they should be with her, and as they were with Barack Obama's lack of experience, but the media will only perpetuate certain beliefs if she doesn't grant interviews.

For instance, the Democrats are already telling the media that the part in her speech where she rejects "the bridge to no-where" by telling Congress thanks, but no thanks is only partially true. She initially said yes, then changed her mind, but kept the money.

It's pretty common to see politicians change positions, but if this is how McCain plans to show that he is against political earmarks, then she isn't helping his cause as this sort of thing shows that she also takes part in corruption by keeping Congress's money.

Palin might have a perspective that we never thought of before. But we wouldn't know because nobody is allowed to interview her. Obama faced a very similar situation where he rejected public financing and was criticized for it.

However, the media got quiet really quickly when the democratic nominee doesn't need public financing because his system is what he wanted ideally anyway. Most of his donations come from donors giving under $100 so there really was no need to keep his position on that issue.

Meanwhile, she continues to get under Obama and Joe Biden's skin with personal attacks that if Obama responded to would probably earn him negative coverage. Considering how she continues to duck media coverage, I wouldn't be surprised if she cancels her debate with Biden.

Obama's website has a link to Biden's page so any voter can view what Biden thinks of any particular issue. Palin has no website and there is no mention of her views on the issue on McCain's website, probably because she doesn't know about a lot of them.

If the McCain campaign thinks it can skate around facing any tough questions, it shouldn't be blaming the media for putting out negative stories that the Democrats publish about her.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Today's game

If New Hampshire found a way to break the tie today as they almost did, I probably wouldn't be able to type tonight's blog as my lap top would be broken. The story was pretty apparent by half-time.

Vanessa Patry scored two goals in the first half and UMass was much more aggressive on the offensive end. I started working on my story during the start of the second half and everything was gravy until the Wildcats scored their second goal, forcing the Minutewomen to play their third overtime game in as many games played.

Luckily my story still worked and I didn't have to start my article over. I'll put a link to my article on the blog tomorrow.

Finally covering a game

In a little under an hour, I will be covering my first women's soccer game of the year. I'm pretty excited for the game and will post the article on here tomorrow while posting some early thoughts on the game later tonight.

In the meantime, here is my sidebar on today's game. Once again, I am grateful that I get to talk to a coach who's so honest with the media as I got some great quotes from that interview.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Great things happen when coach and media can work together

Check out tomorrow's Massachusetts Daily Collegian for my sidebar on the women's soccer team. I'm really happy with how it turned out, but I have to give a lot of credit to UMass coach Jim Rudy. I asked media relations to set up an interview with him for the back-to-school issue.

The next day he called me back to set up a time to talk later that week. Rudy offered his cell-phone, home and office numbers without me even asking him. As soon as I got that, I knew this was going to be a great year.

Today I had my second interview with him and brought along my beat partner. He started by telling us that he will give us every bit of information we ever wanted to know and do whatever he can in return for allowing him to critique our writing. It's not something I'm used to hearing, but I have no problem with it.

We went on with the interview and I asked him a lot about the team's struggling offense. Normally, a coach will try to sugar-coat everything with some cliche about how the team is still playing hard and has great camraderie.

But not Rudy.

He gave me all the information I needed and explained some other factors, besides some really untimely injuries, that was slowing the team down. It's really great to have someone who understands the value of having student journalists who cover the team.

It's never easy to write something negative about a team because nobody likes to talk about it, but Rudy answered all of my questions, which made it a lot easier to write my article.

It should be a fun season.

Sun-Times takes low road in feud with sports columnist

A few days ago, I opened the Chicago Sun-Times and saw in big bold print, “Welcome back, Pete” at the top of the paper. It took my attention away from a man at the Democratic National Convention on the front page who was in tears after Barack Obama officially received the democratic nomination.

I read the type below the headline, curious why the Sun-Times was welcoming back Pete.

“Sports fan Pete Gaines had enough of Jay Mariotti and quit reading the paper. When he heard Mariotti was gone, he quickly came back. You can too. For home delivery call 888-84-Times.”

Clearly the Sun-Times were using Mariotti’s departure as a chance to bring in more subscriptions. It’s no secret that he is perhaps the most hated sports figure in the state of Illinois, including Steve Bartman.

Mariotti quit the paper Tuesday night after signing a contract extension nearly two months ago. He said in that it was because he figured out the internet is bringing down newspapers and he wanted to jump off the ship before it sunk going so far as to call the Sun-Times the Titanic.

The real reason he quit, was because of Barack Obama.

Rick Telander had the first pick of topics to write about and he chose to write about Obama’s interview with Stewart Scott when he bashed Cubs fans since he is a White Sox fan. Mariotti also wanted to write about the topic, causing him to send an email with is resignation.

The Sun-Times responded with a two-page spread that insulted Mariotti. The spread included reader responses and a column from columnist Chris De Luca, who didn’t even try to contain his dislike for Mariotti.

His column ends with a quote from Sun-Times Editor-in-Chief Michael Cooke.

“We wish Jay well and will miss him – not personally of course – but in the sense that he is no longer here, at least for a few days,” Cooke said.

On the left-hand corner of the spread, you see, “For home delivery of the Jay-free Sun-Times, call 888-84-Times.” The ad is a desperate call for subscriptions, as the Sun-Times continue to lose money, and a celebration.

Many people in Chicago strongly dislike Mariotti because he’s arrogant, insulting and is more of a glorified blogger than a columnist, who hides behind his column without confronting anyone about it.

The paper could easily write a 400-word statement addressing the departure and just wishing him good lock in the future.

Instead, it was an overall bash-fest of the controversial columnist. Mariotti wasn’t exactly the epitome of professionalism either, but it would’ve brought some closure if the paper just took the high road in this little saga and moved on.

Many readers are probably ecstatic that the Sun-Times took such a harsh shot at Mariotti, but the newspaper needed to take the high role here. Its job should be to inform its consumers on the news, not make the news.

I blame the Sun-Times for Mariotti’s problems almost as much as I blame Mariotti for them. The paper was too complicit in allowing the former columnist to have his way.

Despite a pretty obvious feud with Telander that Mariotti enflamed and made it a battle in the public rather than behind closed doors, he was awarded with a contract extension until May 2011. Many of his colleagues complained that Mariotti never went into clubhouses that he criticized.

This is a legitimate complaint, but the Sun-Times should have done more to get Mariotti into the locker room so he could get the quotes that he pulls from other writers in his column. Nobody said a peep except for Telander about his notorious reputation for avoiding Chicago White Sox games altogether.

There are many columnists who write about their city’s team without going to games, specifically the ones who have obligations to ESPN or Sports Illustrated. Who knows how long it’s been since Michael Wilbon has seen the Washington Nationals in person or the last time Woody Paige has been inside the Pepsi Center.

The reason it flies with them is because most columnists are nowhere near as controversial as Mariotti and don’t have coaches or managers who call them out as Guillen did a few years ago.

However, for the amount of bashing that Mariotti did with the White Sox, or any other Chicago franchise for that matter, the Sun-Times should have put their foot down and forced him to at the very least set up a few interviews once in awhile.

Who knows how long the Sun-Times editors will celebrate their divorce with Mariotti. Hopefully not long. The Cubs and Sox are having one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory and I’d rather see the paper devote a spread with its cashed-strapped companies to one of those teams than on a former columnist.