Where Pianos Go to Die

            I found the “For More Pianos, Last Note is Thud in the Dump” multimedia package about as effective as a story about this particular issue could have been.  While the overall story was a bit dull, I still believe all three components (text, video, slideshow) complimented one another quite nicely.

            The package centered on a family owned, fourth generation business, the O’Mara Meehan Piano Movers, that has seen more pianos been actually dumped and disposed of, rather than moved to another owner.

            The main reason why the video complimented the narrative so well was because it did not serve the same purpose.  It was a much shorter, cleaner feature of the narrative, essentially serving as a quick summary to the overall story.

            The editor of the video did a great job specifically with the introduction, where a nice visual of old pianos being thrown off the back of a company moving truck into a pile of rubble nearly drowned out the piano music being played in the background.  I thought it represented a form of symbolism, as it sort of defined the demise of the old fashion piano.

            Another part of the video I found worthy of note was the use of b-roll towards the beginning, when vice president Bryan O’Mara was driving from one site to another, while effectively summing up the gist of the story in the text.  He talked about the family history of his company, while also linking today’s economy to the fact that nobody wants to buy used pianos anymore, lamenting that more often than not, the pianos are going to end up in a dump somewhere.

            This use of b-roll was contrasted with the non-existence b-roll at the end of the video, as a black screen is used as transition from claw machinery breaking up a piano to O’Mara back in his car.  I like the thought of the editor, but I think taking out the music as the scene shifts back to O’Mara might have made more sense.  The fourth generation vice president ends the video by acknowledging that people taking things for granted have really started to bother him (of course lamenting the fact that his company often throws out pianos that mean a lot more to the original owner than the people doing the dumping).  I just think O’Mara’s voice, alone, would have served that last scene more effectively. 

            As for the slideshow, I thought it was successful in picking out the best quotes from the article and attaching a visual to enhance the quote. One slide if found particularly interesting was the one that read, “wood and intricate machinery capable of channeling Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven,” accompanied with a picture of demolished pianos. It was great piece of irony. 

            One thing I took away from the package was how old fashion pianos are in same position as newspapers are today.  Both have in a way run its course, having in the mean time given way to a better, more accessible alternative.  Newspapers have been all but been replaced with e-papers while pianos, of course, have been exchange for keyboards; both of which are far less expensive than their predecessors. 

Don’t Be A Dumbass: The Guide to Becoming a Successful & Useful Tweeter

Twitter is the probably the most significant and essential tool that has ever been created for journalists.  Not only is Twitter the fastest way for reporters to report breaking news, but it also allows journalists to communicate with their followers and network with other journalists.

There are a number or purposes for the use of Twitter, none more important than the aforementioned breaking of the news.  But beyond breaking news, Twitter can be used for different things other than just sharing, like allowing journalists to find ledes.  Often time’s journalists will search on Twitter for the daily happenings of their community, and then follow up on that news that was broken by a normal citizen.  Twitter can also be used for useful feedback on a journalist’s work by other journalists.  By posting a link to your own work via Twitter, other writers can comment, opening up the conversation between journalist and reader.

This brings up another good point as to why journalists should use Twitter, which is to “drive traffic to your content,” as Steve Buttry says.  Gaining an audience is a huge advantage of social media.  It’s a great way to get your name out there as a journalist.  Especially for young journalists like myself, creating a portfolio now, why I’m still in college, will pay huge dividends when it’s time to start looking for a job.  Also, by posting your own articles to Twitter and Facebook now rather than later, it’s gives you the time to gain a bigger audience before actually having that large platform that every journalist aspires to.

There are a few rules and guidelines to follow while using any social media platform, not just Twitter and Facebook, as cited in Briggs and Buttry.

First of all, it’s imperative to use your full name as well as cite where you work and live, when using these tools to project a professional tone about yourself.  It is possible to operate two separate Twitter accounts, one for work and one for leisure, but it’s all up to the individual.  The only rule is to keep your professional tweets professional.  You never know who will be looking at your profile.  Also, don’t protect your tweets, as Twitter works best when you are open and transparent, per Steve Buttry.

It’s important to share links as well when using Twitter as it allows you to share other blogs and interesting content with people that may share the same interests as you.  While linking can be useful, its important not to share the entire URL as it will take up precious space of the 140-character limit.

When it comes to balancing your personal and professional lives in social media, it has become increasingly difficult.  Everything we say on Twitter and Facebook is a representation of who we are as individuals as well as the organizations that we are affiliated with.  It’s simple, really, as I’ve heard numerous time from either my coach or professor, “don’t be a dumbass.”

Even retweeting is an endorsement of that person’s thoughts or feelings that represents the retweeter as well.  It is crucially imperative to be mindful of what you say on social media, as anyone and everyone have a possibility of seeing it.

One rule of my own that I’ve been following for years is to ask myself, “Would Mom approve of this?”  If not, don’t be a dumbass. Don’t put it on Facebook or Twitter.

Veteran Celtics Show Poise in 3OT Win over Denver

If you’re one of those people who jumped off the Celtics bandwagon two weeks ago after learning that All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo would miss the rest of the season with an ACL tear, it might just be about time to rejoin the tour.

Last night at TD Garden, the Celtics pulled out their most impressive win during their current seven-game winning streak, outlasting the Denver Nuggets 118-114 in a triple overtime thriller.

Paul Pierce once again led the way with a monster effort, finishing with 27 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists, his third triple-double of the season.

Kevin Garnett accompanied Pierce’s game with 20 points and 18 rebounds of his own, while Jason Terry chipped in with a season-high 26 off the bench.

Since Rondo’s injury, the veterans of Pierce and Garnett have had to shoulder much of the load in their All-Star’s absence, albeit doing so in remarkable fashion.

Pierce has become much more of a facilitator, as head coach Doc Rivers has elected to make his captain into more of a point-forward, specifically in late-game situations.  In the last seven games, Pierce has averaged 7.3 assists and 10.1 rebounds to go along with his 18.9 PPG. The Truth is doing it all.

Garnett has also been able to find a fountain of youth in that same current seven-game stretch, averaging 17.9 points and 9.7 rebounds. Without the leadership of the only two players remaining from their title run back in 2008, who knows where this team would be right now.

The only hardship that comes along with a triple-overtime win is the amount of minutes from a team’s star players that ultimately go hand-in-hand.

Pierce, Garnett, and Terry all logged over 43 minutes, with Pierce leading the way with 54; an astounding stat considering the captain’s age of 35, and the fact that the Celtics play in Charlotte tonight against the Bobcats.

Good thing for the Celtics is that the Bobcats are just 11-39 on the season, and have lost seven straight, and ten of their last eleven.  If Boston’s bench can step up and play heavy minutes, giving rest to the old veterans, the Celtics should come out of Charlotte with a win before Wednesday night’s battle with Chicago.

Celtics Trade Rumors Swirling Amidst Rondo Injury

Amidst the Celtics current four-game winning streak, a plethora of trade rumors have been swirling around the team since last Sunday when we learned that All-Star point-guard, Rajon Rondo, would be sidelined for the remainder of the season with an ACL tear.

Coupled with the loss of their most talented player, news that rookie standout Jared Sullinger would also miss the remainder of the season, electing to go under the knife and receive back surgery on Friday, almost certainly serves as Boston’s dagger in the back (no pun intended).

This brings up the question: Is the Celtics season over?

As you’ll see on any national NBA broadcast, nearly every analyst’s answer to that question is an emphatic, yes. Rondo, arguably Boston’s best player, is having a career year, averaging a career high 13.7 PPG, currently leading the league in assists at 11.7, and before getting injured, earning the nod to start the All-Star game in Houston via fan voting.

Usually, if two of a team’s top seven players go down with injuries, it almost certainly means that the chances of that team making the playoffs, let alone making a run at an NBA championship, are slim to none.

Fortunately for Boston, however, neither one of those two players were Kevin Garnett, nor long time captain Paul Pierce.

Over the past five games, Pierce has carried the team in all facets of the game, averaging 16.2 points, 9 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game per ESPN.com. 

At the age of 35, certainly head coach Doc Rivers doesn’t want Pierce carrying such a heavy load on a night-to-night basis.  This mean his minutes have to go up (and they have, by approximately 4 minutes/game), which is bad news come playoff time, suggesting Boston hangs onto one of the final eight spots in the Eastern Conference.

The good news for the Celtics is that they have in fact won each of their last four games, all essentially without Rondo and Sullinger.  Without Rondo controlling so much of the ball, Boston’s ball movement, as well as its overall bench play has improved dramatically, especially in the cases of Leandro Barbosa and Jeff Green.

Barbosa has relished the opportunity of gaining more minutes off the bench in the absence of Rondo, scoring in double-figures in Boston’s last two games versus the Clippers and Magic.

He has most recently been paired up with fellow back-courter Jason Terry off the bench, forming a formidable backcourt duo. Terry’s three-point shooting has improved over the past five games, as is percentage is up five whole points, to a more-than-serviceable 40 percent.

Terry and Barbosa, to go along with Green’s recent offensive output (scoring in double-figures in each of his last give games), solidifying himself as a number-one scoring option off the bench for head coach Doc Rivers, has General Manger Danny Ainge thinking about standing pat at the trade deadline.

While there hasn’t been as much chatter surrounding Pierce since Memphis traded away Rudy Gay to Toronto, there has been a flurry of rumors concerning Garnett.  Both the Los Angeles Clippers and most recently, the Denver Nuggets, have reached out to Ainge with inquiries about Boston’s defensive backbone.

The Clippers have reportedly offered a package of Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe, while the Nuggets have offered something a bit more enticing in Danilo Gallinari, Andre Iguodala, and Kenneth Farried.

The problem for both LA and Denver is that Garnett has a no trade clause, and has already stated that he is unwilling to wave it unless Pierce is moved as well.

Moving the two stars would certainly solidify the end of the “Big 3” era in Boston, one in which the Celtics have made two finals appearances, while wining the title in 2008.

This means that future of the Boston Celtics ultimately lies in the hands of Ainge and majority owner Wyc Grousbeck.

The Celtics have had a rich history of exuding loyalty to their star players, often hanging onto them for longer than some would expect or hope for, most notably back in the late 90’s with the original “Big 3” of Larry Bird, Robert Parish, and Kevin McHale.

So this begs the question, Will Ainge and Grousbeck blow up the team as a lot of fans in the area are hoping for, or will they hang onto to Pierce and Garnett, hoping for one last title run, this time without their newly established superstar in Rajon Rondo?

It’s a lot to think about, and the Celtics brass have about two weeks to do so before the NBA trade deadline on February 21st.

The Meaning of Team: A Battle With Life & Soccer

Sam Koch meets with his team every year in early August in room 269 of Boyden Gymnasium to signal the start of training camp.  The routine is simple: lay down the team’s goals and ground rules for the season, while also giving the returning players an opportunity to get acquainted with the newcomers.

As soon as the players opened that classroom door, however, they quickly realized this year’s meeting would be anything but routine.

The University of Massachusetts men’s soccer coach sat at the head of the classroom in front of 36-roster hopefuls, the team trainer, and three to four other adults, none of whom were recognizable even by the returners.

Koch looked terrible.  His face was burnt, his right eye was covered with a bandaged eye patch, and his weight had gone down considerably since the last time his team had seen him.

“That was a really hard meeting to have, said UMass soccer trainer, Bob Kuzmeski.  “A lot of people saying what’s going on, there was a lot of confusion and trepidation.”

He began his speech with a joke, in typical Sam Koch fashion, confessing to his team that, no, he was in fact not Jack Sparrow, but was indeed dealing with a very serious illness, cancer of the sinus cavity.

The team looked around at each other staggered by what they had just heard, almost looking to one another in assurance that what they were hearing wasn’t true.

“I looked around the room and there were blank stares,” said co-captain Dominick Skrajewski. “I don’t think anyone had a reaction just because it was such big news, and there were so many questions going through everyone’s heads.”

As Koch went on, he spoke upon the severity of his illness, admitting to his team that although he would try to make every practice, it was something that was just unrealistic, as he would be traveling to Boston five days a week for chemotherapy. The unrecognizable man behind him, Koch pointed out, would serve as the team’s interim head coach, whenever he wasn’t around.

That man was Devin O’Neill.

The new assistant coach, who had spent the previous two years at Bradley University, had decided to come home to his native western Massachusetts to join the Minutemen.

A glance around the room would show a handful of players with tears in their eyes. The team was aware that no matter how much their coach pleaded, there would be a limited amount of Koch appearances during the season, while the man filling in for him would be a new face as well.

Sam Koch’s squad new they were in for an uphill battle, just as their coach was.

“We came out of that meeting with all sorts of ideas, emotions and goals for the season,” said co-captain Brett Canepa. “As a team, we knew we couldn’t start off the way the program had in the past few years. We had a coach who was fighting for his life, and we had to play in a way that supported that.”

Sam Koch has been head coach of the Minutemen for 21 seasons, this past season’s cancer-ridden campaign being his 22nd.  Entering this year, Koch had already established himself as the all-time winingest coach in UMass history with 209 wins, compiling a 213-157-46 record in his 21 years in Amherst. He is a four-time Atlantic-10 Coach of the Year recipient, while also leading his teams to 11 A-10 Conference tournaments and two conference championships.

His most impressive accomplishment came in 2007 when the Minutemen reached the College Cup, eventually losing in the Final Four to the Ohio State Buckeyes, 1-0.

With all the accolades that Koch has compiled over his career, one might expect him to be a coach that’s all about winning.  Although winning is certainly at the top of his list, it isn’t the only thing that defines the head coach.

“He’s probably one of the funniest guys that I’ve met and have had the pleasure of knowing and working with.  He has a story for everything,” said Kuzmeski.

The athletic trainer is in his 11th year at UMass, and second working with the men’s soccer team.  His relationship with Koch is one that stems back even farther than their days working as colleagues at UMass together, as the two have been neighbors for 17 years in Haldey, just outside of Amherst.

The strong bond between trainer and coach, friend and friend, may have even strengthened this past fall, as it was Kuzmeski who drove Koch to and from practice each day.

“That was just a great time just to talk with him, talk soccer a little bit,” said Kuzmeski. “Sometimes we would talk about his family or my family, and how much his family really means to him, and how they all interact. It was really special.”

As the days went on, and the car rides began to pile up, Kuzmeski began to realize just how much Koch loves being on the field with his team, coaching the game that is so dear to his heart.

“I’d comment to him after practice,” said Kuzmeski, ‘Boy, you were really on fire today,’ with some of the things he was saying- and they were just funny one-liners. He’s thankful for it.”

But although Koch was doing his best to attend practice, missing just three practices in an eight-week span, where driving back and forth to practice from chemotherapy in Boston became a daily routine, the team was struggling.

After jumping out to a 2-0-1 start early on in the season, the Minutemen quickly fell off the map, eventually losing 11 of their final 15 matches.  If it was ever a question, it was now certain that Koch’s illness had affected the team.

“They seemed a little distracted by the whole thing, some guys a little bit more than others, especially the older players,” said Kuzmeski. “They’ve been much more aware of his absence in really those few times that he hasn’t really been at practice.  There’s been a level of distraction that I haven’t seen in years past.”

Canepa, the moral leader of the Minutemen, knew the season would be tough, but tried to use Koch’s illness as motivation for the young group, one that accounted for 14 freshmen.

“It pushed the team to work hard day-in and day-out, and to get absolutely everything out of a training session that was possible,” said Canepa. “We realized it would only help make coach happier to know our dedication was going to be there everyday at practice.”

But the team spiraled despite a fast start and leadership from Skrajewski and Canepa.  One factor that may have contributed to the Minutemen’s lulls was the fact that the team did have those 14 new faces on the roster.  Coming off of a lackluster 4-13-2 campaign the previous year in 2011, Koch looked to overhaul a senior-heavy roster, in hopes of rebuilding for the future.

With Koch’s illness serving as a major distraction, however, a rebuilding year with an unusually high amount of freshmen seemed demanding to say the least.

A normal college freshman is dealt with a number of different things to cope with when making the transition from high school.  Not only are freshmen in an entirely new environment surrounded by thousands of people they don’t know, but also, going to class is no longer something that is forced upon them by a parent or guardian.

“Obviously it’s definitely challenging when you come in that first semester because everything has changed for you,” said University of Massachusetts academic counselor, Pete Montague. “You know, new academic environment, new social environment, not eating mom’s home cooking anymore. Everything has changed and then you throw in athletics on top of that.”

Freshman, Will Ellis, witnessed that tough transition this fall, as the midfielder has come all the way from scorching Arizona, to the much colder and unpredictable climate of New England.

“The biggest adjustment has honestly been the weather,” said Ellis. “I’m not used to not seeing the sun for days at a time and it can get really gloomy. I never thought that it could effect my mood but it makes me miss home sometimes.”

While the weather may have affected his mood, it had no bearing on Ellis’ schoolwork, as he did not want to invoke any more hardships on his coach’s behalf.

“Academically, I didn’t want to give him anything else to worry about so I made sure to get all my study hours in, and do my best to get that 3.0 that he always talks about.”

When incoming freshman arrive on the campus of UMass, Koch makes it a point to instill his morals of dedication, commitment and self-belief in his all of his players to ensure that they understand that nothing is taken for granted.

Tony Bassett, a former player and assistant coach under Koch, now at the University New Hampshire, knows this better than anyone.

“UMass Soccer is a place where previous achievements and awards mean absolutely nothing and a freshman player has to earn every ounce of respect that he desires on the field in his performances,” said Bassett.

Added Ellis, “Koch wants all of us to succeed on and off the field. He is the type of coach that cares about his players more than most would. He loves this school and he believes in the program.”

UMass soccer, however, is somewhat of a different animal when it comes to college athletics.  One of the least funded soccer programs in the country, Koch has done a remarkable job in being forced to recruit at the Division 1 level with minimal resources, all while staying relevant for the better part of 20 years in NCAA soccer.

“There’s been some remarkable accomplishments, especially given all the limitations that we are all well aware of,” said assistant coach, Devin O’Neill. “I was aware, obviously, of the success that the program has had, 2007 was an exceptional year.”

While 2007 was for certain an unequivocal accomplishment for a poorly funded program such as UMass; it does not make up for the past four seasons in which the team has failed to reach their conference tournament.

“On a positive side, this program has a passionate alumni following; people really care about UMass soccer. They resurrected it when it was dropped, briefly, 20-something years ago,” said O’Neill.

O’Neill, a West Springfield native was well aware of the tradition before deciding to accept Koch’s offer as assistant coach this past June.

O’Neill remembers his parents becoming avid supporters of UMass athletics, when he, the youngest child of the family, graduated college and his parents no longer had anyone to root for.

John Calipari’s reign in Amherst in the early 1990’s cemented the O’Neill’s support as a new level of prominence both locally and nationally emerged on the campus of UMass with the university’s basketball team.

“Wherever UMass was playing, they were there,” said O’Neill.  “It meant a lot to them, and really gave them something to buy into, support and fill the void in their life.  For that reason UMass has been special.”

The support of the community for the UMass basketball team back in the nineties is something that O’Neill wants to bring back to Amherst, only this time, for the university’s soccer program.

It’s a tall task, concerning the fact that just recently, UMass football has made the jump from the Division IAA to Division IA, as the university hopes to reap the financial benefits of having a Division I football team.

With all the potential benefits, however, come major risks, risks that may put the athletic department in a financial hole for years.

“Universities that want to sponsor football in a significant way, most of the time have real issues as it relates to Title IX, funding, and all of those things,” said O’Neill.

As it relates to college athletics, Title IX states that universities must comply with the law in three areas pertaining to equality in men’s and women’s sports: athletic financial assistance, accommodation of athletic interests and abilities, and other program areas including traveling and equipment benefits, according to Dr. Mary Curtis and Dr. Christine H.B. Grant of the University of Iowa.

O’Neill has experienced issues with Title IX, first hand, as he has coached at two schools of which both soccer team’s were terminated because of the issue.

“Department wide, it’s an interesting transition for UMass, trying to go big- time football,” said O’Neill.  “That’s a big risk with a potential big benefit, but that’s the unknown, that’s the unforeseen thing.  Access to dollars and resources are limited.”

With all things considered, the road back to the top for the UMass soccer program will not be an easy one.  It’s a goal, however, that O’Neill knows he can accomplish after watching Koch battle through cancer this past fall.

“I feel a real sense of responsibility to try to just get the program back to where it should be, to being really competitive, and being a program that we can all be proud of,” said O’Neill. “I think we can do that, but it’s not going to be an easy deal.”

“It was amazing what (Koch) was able to do,” added O’Neill.  “I think a lot of people would have packed it up for the fall, and just focused totally on getting better.”

Those who know the Minuteman head coach best, however, knew that was never an option. Being on the field for Koch was a chance to get his mind off of his battle with cancer, a chance to get away from it all, even it was just for a two-hour practice.

“It’s really a testament to how much he wants to give to the guys as players, and be there and teach the game of soccer, about life and everything else that goes along with it,” said Kuzmeski.

The 2012 campaign for the Minutemen should not merely be assessed in terms of wins and losses, but rather by what a team and a coach endured over the course of a four-month span.  While it was not a season marked by come-from-behind wins and highlight reel finishes, it was one that defined the true definition of a team, surely a step in the right direction for the UMass men’s soccer program.

A Thanksgiving Afterthought

My family is one of businessmen and business ladies.  My grandfather was a longtime employer for Gillette, my father has worked in investment banking for more than 20 years now, and my sister has just earned her CPA after graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a Masters in accounting.

Let’s just say when we all sat around the dinner table for Thanksgiving this past Thursday, journalism was the last thing anyone was thinking about, besides me.

My sister, Sarah, doesn’t live at home anymore so my grandfather is always curious as to how she’s doing; if she has anyone special in her life, how work is going, and overall, her life in general.  She responded with a work-related answer, telling him how fortunate she was that her firm accepted her even before she had earned her CPA license, something that many students struggle with after college in trying to find work.

This of course sprouted another conversation, on how one of our cousins has just finished law school, and cannot find a job. As the talk went on, I found myself not focused on the actual conversation at hand, but rather a whole other topic all together.

I thought to myself, how come there isn’t a test to become a journalist? I mean, it only seems logical, right? If there’s an exam that needs to be passed to become an accountant, a lawyer, a doctor, or a teacher, how come there isn’t an exam to become a journalist?

This is a topic that has been brought up in more than one of my classes this semester, yet hasn’t really been discussed upon at length.  Over the past decade or so, in particular with the rapid success of the Internet, more people than ever before are writing.  It doesn’t take much to let your opinion be heard.  Anyone, and I mean anyone, can set up his or her own blog and begin writing about anything he or she pleases, for the whole world to see.

It’s truly a tremendous privilege to have, yet many feel this right has become abused as of late.  While some bloggers do their own fair share of reporting and put out good content, there are some blogs that offer nothing more than an opinion I could have heard from someone at the local bar.  There is no substance, and the content is purely subjective, nothing else.

I understand the concern of many of those people out there, however, I believe they are missing the point.  No, I don’t believe blogging is journalism, but it is certainly a start for many up-and-coming reporters.  Blogging should be used as a tool to sharpen the skill needed as a journalist.  It’s a place to offer your opinion, possibly get blasted for it, and then refine your writing in a way that displays your thought process in ultimately coming to the decision you came to.

It’s nothing more than that, and it doesn’t need to be anything more than that.

I recently read an article by Jay Rosen about the “view from no where,” and his outright disdain for it.  It suggests that,

“Human beings are, in fact, capable of stepping back from their position to gain an enlarged understanding, which includes the more limited view they had before the step back.”

In other words, journalists should expect to be objective in their reporting, in order to “portray a consciousness of the world more fully.”

Rosen rejects this statement, claiming, and I agree,

“Because it has unearned authority in the American press. If in doing the serious work of journalism–digging, reporting, verification, mastering a beat–you develop a view, expressing that view does not diminish your authority. It may even add to it.”

Journalists are going to create their own opinions through their reporting no matter how hard they try, and they shouldn’t be ashamed of it.  Journalists are doing the digging, reporting and verification for a reason, to become a master on the subject so that he or she can write a good report on it.  If in the process, an opinion is thrown out into the article, than so-be it. If the reporter has graduated from journalism school, taken the journalism test, and has years of experience as a reporter, that opinion is warranted.

Wait. But there is no test.

This is exactly what defines the problem that has been developing for years now in the field of journalism.  Bloggers want to be considered journalists, journalists think bloggers have no right to be considered such; it’s a complete mess.  A journalistic exam would rid of this controversy.  You want the title of a journalist, great, pass the exam.

As I said earlier, if there’s a test to become a lawyer, doctor or teacher, there’s no reason there shouldn’t be one to become a journalist. It’s one in the same.

This way, certified journalists would have the privilege of writing objectively, but not feel uncomfortable in offering an opinion on a subject the he or she just spent weeks or months on covering.

The test would also ensure the validity of bloggers.  Bloggers are supposed to write subjectively.  It’s the blogger’s opinions and creative way of thinking that, we, as readers visit their blogs for.  Take Barstool Sports for example.  No one goes to Barstool to read an article of informed analysis on his or her favorite sports team.  They go to Barstool to be entertained.  Take their headliner from over the weekend,

My Prediction: Michigan 89- Ohio State- 6.”

The self-proclaimed writer, El Prez, is a widely known avid Michigan fan. The predication is ridiculous, yet entertaining, as he even offers some insight as to why Michigan would ultimately beat Ohio State (undefeated) by 83 points.

So, no, bloggers “certainly are not committed to being objective,” as managing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review’s online CJR Daily, Steve Lovelady, points out. But it doesn’t matter.  Bloggers are bloggers and reporters are reporters, yet there is no clear-cut way in distinguishing the two as far as who is a journalist and who is not.  It’s a problem that needs to be fixed, and needs to be fixed now so that the world of journalism can be at peace.  A journalistic examination may just be the solution to this war of words between reporters and bloggers.

ESPN Visit to Amherst

Hillary London, Erin Quinn, and Caroline Steadman, representatives of ESPN’s stats and analysis division, all came to the University of Massachusetts Amherst Wednesday morning to speak to Steve Fox’s sports journalism class.

The basis of their visit was to give some young, aspiring journalists an idea of what they do at ESPN, their path to getting there, and some tips regarding resume builders.

London, who began her career as a field hockey and lacrosse coach at Vassar College in the Hudson Valley of New York, always knew she was interested in sports, claiming she knew she didn’t want to work a nine-to-fine in an office.  The Union alum then went on to coach Salve Regina and Sweet Briar College before finally ending up at ESPN.

London considers herself lucky for, “knowing the right people” to help get her noticed by the major sports network.

Offering a bit of advice to the class, London noted, “sell yourself for that opportunity.” That opportunity referring to the specific job title that you want, rather than a broad description as to why you love sports in general.  Said London, “Tell us those tools that not everyone knows about,” in hopes of separating yourself from a large field.

Erin Quinn and Caroline Steadman, both in their first full year at ESPN, touched about the application process when vying to intern.  The two did well through lengthy interviewing processes, as well quizzes to help earn their spot as intern at ESPN, and now a full-time employee.

One thing that London noted that is important to the interviewing processes, is being able to identify and explain three things about yourself, something that seems simple enough, yet many find difficult in doing.

The lengthy evaluation process begins with a 45-minute e-mail exam, testing the applicant’s sports knowledge on various subjects.  The questions can range anywhere from identifying the misspelling of a player’s name, to specific historical events, to tough baseball questions.

If an applicant passes both the online exam and phone interview, that person is then able to travel to Bristol, Connecticut, ESPN’s headquarters, and spend a day on campus.  There, the applicant gains exceptional knowledge of the day-to-day workings ESPN through a shadow program.

ESPN is very generous throughout the process, providing housing to applicants in their program.

One thing that helped Steadman distinguish herself from the tough competition was her fluidity in the language of Spanish.  ESPN is always looking for diverse individuals, and Steadman’s ability to speak Spanish is helpful in the Deportes network.

Both Steadman and Quinn were also athletes in college, something ESPN looks for in their applicants.  Playing college sports helps develop teamwork, a necessity says London, who admits ESPN is a “people-place.”

The “people-place” atmosphere probably comes from the fact that their major work hours come on weeknights and weekends, a time that most workers in America have off.  It creates a friendly environment as workers are forced to come together and work as a team in crunch time.

Covering The Bases: An Evening WIth Our GM’s

Tuesday night at the University of Massachusetts’s Campus Center Auditorium, the Isenberg School of Management put on “Covering the Bases: An Evening with Our GM’s,” a panel discussion featuring three Major League Baseball general managers, all alumni of UMass.

Ben Cherington of the Boston Red Sox, Chris Antonetti of the Cleveland Indians, and Neal Huntington of the Pittsburgh Pirates all gave their thoughts on their respective paths to the big leagues, as well as offering some advice as to how to become successful in the business world.

Current television personality and reporter for ESPN Boston, Mike Reiss, moderated the panel discussion.

While all three current GM’s have proved successful in the business world, each paid their respects to the Isenberg School of Management, in helping shape them for the real world.

“The small classrooms and small faculty created a unique learning environment,” said Cherington. “The healthy dialogue (that it created) helps you develop relationships with people from different backgrounds.”

It were those small, close-knit classrooms that developed the relationship between Cherington and Antonetti, both members of the class of 1997, and helped form the necessary networking opportunities that is so vital for success in today’s world.

When both Cherington and Antonetti were struggling to find work early on in their careers, it was Huntington, the elder statesmen of the three, out of the class of 1992, who proved helpful to the aspiring baseball minds.

“When we had an opening we reached out to our contacts, the people that we trusted,” said Huntington.

Cherington, who was hired by Huntington to do scouting for a minor league baseball team, admitted although it wasn’t what he had in mind, it was still an opportunity to put his “foot in the door.”

“(Your) first job description isn’t going to be the perfect one,” said Cherington. You’ve got to make some sacrifices to get around the right people.”

“Getting yourself around the right people,” is something that all three GM’s stressed throughout the night, suggesting that taking advantage of certain networking opportunities will help broaden the way one thinks, forcing one to think outside of the box, which will ultimately prepare oneself for the real world.

“Being able to tackle intellectual challenges and engage in intellectual conversations,” is something that Cherington noted as being a vital skill that he learned in the classrooms at Isenberg.

Cherington, Antonetti, and Huntington are all great baseball minds, but have been forced to change the way they think with advent of new ways to statistically score the game, called sabermetrics.  Sabermetrics, a term coined by Bill James, was the basis behind the famous novel and movie, “Moneyball.”

While many people have criticized James’s metrics, Antonetti thinks of it as a positive for baseball.

“It has made highly intelligent, diverse individuals interested in baseball.”

Cherington also touched upon the idea that personality traits, a section from “Moneyball,” can be useful for those GM’s particularly in big markets.

“We know there are certain personality traits that would be helpful in Boston,” said Cherington.  “It’s still hard to figure out how to identify the qualities in those players.”

While the three UMass alumni are currently in three different cities, managing three different baseball clubs, and constantly battling with one another, there is one thing that the three GM’s can all agree upon for now.

“Finding you passion and working exceptionally hard to exceed expectations.”

If the 750 people in attendance can remember the words of these three intelligent individuals, who knows, maybe a few will end up as GM’s, just like Cherington, Antonetti, and Huntington have.