In the last #loweclass #sports, we had a rousing debate about the replacement refs. Some were calling the final play of Monday Night Football's tilt between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks egregious, while others, like myself, pointed out the game could have very well have ended 7-6 in favor of Seattle.

In the wake of the game, the media was looking to see how the NFL would move on. Players and experts were tweeting, some profanely, for the NFL to get the regular refs back on the field. ESPN was quick to point out how bad the refs were and that the NFL needed to regular refs as soon as possible. I wrote a Bleacher Report article, saying that one possibility would be for the players to strike until the regular refs signed a new deal with the NFL. Thankfully for the fans and players, a deal has been reached.

Late Wednesday night, the NFL and Referee's Union reached a deal to get the regular refs on the field. It seemed that the number of bad calls not only in the Packers/Seahawks game but also in the New England Patriots/Baltimore Ravens game, the one that saw the loudest "Bulls**t" cheer on television, was too much for the NFL to handle. 

As a decent fan of the NFL, I would say the deal came too late. The consensus after Week 1 was that there wash;t any blown calls. Sure, there might have been some missed calls or questionable calls, but they didn't mess up too badly. Week 2 saw more missed calls, and some that made games closer then they should have. When the NFL saw there could have been a problem, that's when they should have gotten a deal done. 

There have been four major lockouts in the big four sports (NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB) in the past two years. The NFL and NBA locked out last year, the NHL is seeing its second lockout in eight years, and then the referee's were locked out from the NFL until Wednesday night. It's hard for fans to be sympathetic to the owners and commissioners of these sports because of the amount of money they are fighting for. In each of these lock outs, a deal should have been done before any games were missed. But in the case of these replacement refs, at least they weren't there for when playoff races were decided. 
 
 
Being a journalist requires a good understanding of the English language at the absolute minimum. Our line of work deals completely with words, grammar, and telling stories. Without correct punctuation, grammar, and word use, we cannot do our job correctly.

The Language Primer NewsU module deals exactly with the rules of the English language in a way that helps the student understand those rules. Instead of lecturing what works and doesn't work, the module uses mini quizzes titled "Drills" to get the student to practice these rules. If the student applies what they learned in English classes throughout high school and college, they should do just fine. 

This is what makes the module so time consuming. Instead of having these mini quizzes and then a single comprehensive quiz to end the module, the module has three separate final exams. Each exam, covering either grammar, punctuation, or word use,  consists of fifty question multiple choice questions. I personally find this to be extremely unnecessary.

As stated earlier, a final quiz is smart, but fifty questions is entirely too many. If I was not doing this for class, I would have immediately quit the module. I had learned these rules in classes throughout high school and college, and didn't need to take a fifty question review session. Twenty questions would have been much easier to take in, and also would have given me the same information the fifty questions would have. While the fifty questions would make each question worth less points, there were multiple repeat questions. 

I understand that journalists need a mastery of the English language to be successful and credible in their jobs. But three separate fifty question exams felt more like a final exam for a course than learning the rules of the English language. I would highly recommend taken an English course to get a mastery of the English language rather than using this test as a source of the rules of 
 
 
Last night, I was on the bridge watching the Baltimore Ravens play the New England Patriots. With the game coming to a close, the Patriots were up by nine with a 3rd and 9 on New England's 32 yard line. Brady threw an incomplete pass, but the refs called a highly questionable illegal contact call, which gave New England a fresh set of downs.

The call was the highlight of the weekend, and ESPN analyst Adam Schefter reported that the players had enough. The NFLPA sent a letter to the league officials with all the league's executive's signatures, saying they want a deal done and the replacement refs "are a farce".

The Los Angeles Times have not been a big part of the discussion of the NFL replacement refs, mostly because Los Angeles doesn't have a "home team". The Chargers are close, but there have not been any major events occurred in a Charger game. But with the onset of social media, players are able to speak their voice.

Brandon Spikes of the New England Patriots tweeted his aggravation for the replacements after the game Sunday night. While the NFL hasn't responded, it's safe to assume he will be receiving a fine for his comments. Bernard Pollard of the Baltimore Ravens said in an interview before the games this weekend that "they should have nipped this thing in the bud immediately. We're going on our third game. Something needs to be done." He also went on to say that the players are entitled to their opinions, but they have them to a certain extent. 

The regular refs are locked out of the NFL because of a small amount of revenue goes toward the refs, and the two sides are arguing about exactly how much they should receive. The ends of having the replacement refs do not justify the quality the league is losing by having the replacement refs continue to be on the field. This labor dispute needs to end
 
 
Before going to David Bornstein's Media Ethics lecture titled "Solution Journalism: Responsibility, Entrepreneurship, & Change", I had only live tweeted hockey games while sitting on my couch. The ability to give my own commentary on a major sporting event is really empowering for myself. Depending on my followers, they may either completely agree with my tweeting and enjoy it, or unfollow me after my fifth tweet.

However, I did not find the same experience live-tweeting the event for #loweclass #sports. While I enjoy live tweeting sporting events, I felt like live tweeting an event like this was more distracting than educational. 

I did not find actually tweeting the event not to be the difficult part. I tweeted 17 times while at the event, along with retweeting five of my classmates tweets. So if you don't get math like us journalists, I tweeted 22 times while at a lecture that lasted for around an hour. So I was able to tweet easily and often, and feel like someone who wasn't at the lecture could get an understanding of what was going on.

I, however, could not tell you clearly what Bornstein talked about in his lecture. I was too busy live-tweeting.

Each tweet took about 20 to 30 seconds to type, and I was completely focused on tweeting, and not paying attention to what Bornstein was saying. So I lost around seven to eight minutes of Bornstein talking to tweeting. And once I got comfortable tweeting, I started selectively listening. I feel like as a journalist, I have a knack of picking out quotes that are important. So if a sentence was not going to be something to tweet about, I would not pay attention. I would also be looking for my classmates' tweets to see if there was anything to retweet. 

So, because I was live tweeting, my focus was not on the speaker but Twitter. If I were a speaker, I would not have wanted students to be more focused on their phone than on what I was saying. Tweeting could be a form of note taking, but those notes would be more of quotes, not overarching themes from the lecture, which is what people remember more. 

I understand that Twitter serves as one of the most popular news resources for my generation. It is where I get the majority of my news. But live-tweeting a small event is not news, its just annoying for the person live-tweeting, the speaker, and the followers. I may be biased, but keep it for big time events. 
 
 
The Los Angeles Kings won the 2011-2012 Stanley Cup, becoming the first no. 8 seed to in the big four sports (NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA) to win a championship. The Kings defeated the first seed Vancouver Canucks, second seed St. Louis Blues, and third seed Phoenix Coyotes to make it to the finals, and then defeated the six seed New Jersey Devils in six games. They were scheduled to raise their championship banner to the rafters of the Staples Center on Oct. 12 against the New York Rangers.

I say "were" because as of Sept 17, there is no NHL season coming. 

The NHL's Board of Governors have decided to lockout the players because of a labor dispute. The owners got 43 percent of all hockey-related revenue (HRR) during the last Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). In the owner proposals, they have requested the players go from 57 percent to 43 percent, 46 percent, and in their latest proposal, ranging from 49 percent in the beginning of the deal to 47 percent at the end of the CBA. The players realize they have to compromise with the owners, but have yet to release a proposal where they get less than 50 percent of HRR. Their first proposal saw the players making 57 percent by the end of the CBA, but in their latest proposals, the players asked for a longer CBA with a percent smaller than 57 of HRR, but no exact number was released. 

The Times does a good job of covering the original lockout and the players exodus to Europe to play hockey this season. The Times writes that several big name players, such as Sergei Gonchar, Evgeni Malkin, and Jaromir Jagr, are headed to Europe. Gonchar and Malkin will be playing in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, while Jagr will be a part of the Czech League. I would not have expected the Times to be looking as closely to the NHL and its labor dispute, as Los Angeles is not a traditional hockey market.

The Times also covered the lockout when it happened on Sunday morning. The article not only does a nice job of introducing the lockout for fans who have not paid close attention to the league, but it also compares the lockout to the recent labor disputes in the NBA and NFL. The Times shows what the revenue split is for each respective league, and then what the NHL and NHLPA has offered each other. What it does not do, and what I am glad it does not cover, is comparing the 2004 lockout to this lockout. The two lockouts are different because of the main issues and amount of money at stake, and thus should not be compared to each other.

As a die-hard hockey fan, I am pleased with the Times's coverage of the first few days of the NHL lockout. Their articles not only touch on what the fundamental problems are with the old CBA and the new CBA proposals, but also how players are reacting to the lockout. While the parts stand on completely different sides, the stories also touch on the optimism of not only the league officials, but those outside of the sport, to get a deal done before significant amount of time is lost. 

As both a fan and a hockey writer, I hope they are right. 
 
 
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Conclusion from the NewsU module 'Developing A Successful Journalistic Blog' which encourages readers to start their own blog for experience.
When I decided I wanted to come to Marquette and being in the College of Communication, I had no experience in journalism aside from a brief stint on my high school's newspaper, the Prep News, my junior year. But, two friends of mine started a blog called "The Playoff Beard" a week before school started. The Playoff Beard spawned into "Sideline News" when our original blogging website had to cut free blogs, but it was still the same people with the same idea to bring St. Louis sports to our generation.

After doing both blogs for about five months, and writing for Bleacher Report for now eight months, I feel that "Developing a Successful Journalistic Blog" has good intentions for being a useful tool for bloggers, but does not follow through.

The NewsU module has the idea to give bloggers the groundwork for starting a successful blog in whatever beat area they have. The entire time I was reading it, I was using sports as an example because that's what my beat was for the blog I started. I found that the ideas of searching Twitter and Facebook, Google searching, using RSS feeds to get information would be a waste of time. Someone could get the same kind of information just watching ESPN and going to ESPN.com, or if the beat is politics, looking at NBC, CBS, Fox, and CNN and their websites, rather than scouring the internet for information. 

Also, the module itself was entirely too text-based. Had this not been assigned for homework, I probably would have quit reading the module halfway through the introduction. Blogs are encouraged to be multimedia websites, with plenty of hyperlinks, photos, videos, and audio to complement stories. I found the NewsU module to very rarely use photos, with no audio and no video. But, they did have plenty of hyperlinks, but that does not solve the problem of being too text heavy. 

However, I did find the ideas of how to gain readers very useful. One of the hardest part of The Playoff Beard or Sideline News is that it was an amateur blog. Even posting the articles on Facebook or on Twitter only saw maybe 10 to 15 readers on a good day. By finding a place where all of your niche readers are, you will greatly increase the interest of your article, and thus have many more people read your blog, and potentially grab reoccurring readers. That is something I had been told before starting my blog. 

Another thing that I found interesting about this module was that it called for bloggers to essentially treat their blog like a newspaper. NewsU encourages bloggers to plan ahead and think of what you will write for the next week. They call for writers to post articles maybe two to three times a day, with a major headline story coming out daily. I personally thought a good week would be posting two articles a week. I would never plan ahead, I would think of article ideas, and if a good one struck me, I would write it that day and then post it. 

Ultimately, I believe that "Developing a Successful Journalistic Blog" has some redeeming qualities. It gives the basis for what bloggers should be striving for if they truly want a successful blog that has the reputation of an actual publication. But, as the conclusion says, nothing is better than actual experience, and I completely agree. I feel I am a better blog not because I took this course, but because I was able to find my voice, see what works and what doesn't work, and what I like writing about, all by actually writing stories. I would encourage new bloggers to take this course if they want, but definitely start a blog and never look back. 
 
 
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The Los Angeles Kings remember two scouts that were on United flight 175. Both died when the plane crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11.
The Los Angeles Times has an obligation to its readers to discuss the events of 9/11. It is the single day that no matter what separates us as citizens, that we all gather and say with a single voice, "We will never falter. We'll stand our ground." The Times manages to do so, even in sports. 

The Times, however, did not have a prominant story to display. A blog reporting athletes tweeting about the 9/11 attack was next to the photo of the main headline. In the story, it is just the text of tweets from Los Angeles athletes, such as Kobe Bryant, Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks, and Shane Victorino of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I would have preferred screenshots of these tweets, but the text still shows how athletes still remember those attacks 11 years later.

After searching the site, I found a story that hits more home with me. The story is the LA Kings, 20112 Stanley Cup Champions, remembering two scouts that died on United Flight 175. Those two scouts were Mark Bavis and Ace Bailey. Bavis was with the club for only one year, but recommended two players to be drafted, Mike Cammalleri and David Steckel. Both are still in the NHL today. Bailey had been with the club for eight years, and had seen success being a scout for the Edmonton Oilers when they won four Stanley Cups in five years. Both are honered by the Kings by both having foundations in their name (Ace Bailey Children's Foundation and Mark Bavis Leadership Foundation) and the team also has team awards in their names. 

While I might not have the story that the Kings have, I still remember the events of Sept. 11, 2011, very clearly. I remember being in class when my principle announced over the PA system that there was an attack on the World Trade Center, and that there would immediately be a prayer service in the hall. Being at a Catholic grade school, having a prayer service wasn't out of the ordinary, but I knew that this one was a little bit different then the last. The teachers and priest seemed to be at a lost for words, but we were in the hall for a long time. After the prayer service, we went back into the class room and watch the news play videos of a plane hitting a building. 

Sept. 11, 2001, is a day that every American remembers exactly what they were doing and where they were. The 9/11 terrorist attacks were a tragedy that stopped the country completely, except for one network, ESPN. SportsCenter, ESPN's flagship program, was halted to cut to the immediate aftermath of the attacks, but continued on with programming. Later that night, SportsCenter reported on how games had been cancelled and venues were on lockdown. ESPN were jouralists, covering their field while everyone else was focused on the tragedy. Sports proved that once and for all, that it could be an escape from the pain and suffering of the real world.
 
 
I consider myself to be somewhat of a sports nut. I absolutely live, breathe, and die ice hockey, but I am still fond of sports like football, baseball, and ultimate (frisbee). So when #loweclass assigned Week 1 of the NFL season for the blog post, I was excited to see what a news website without a football team would cover the week.

And I found it to be very interesting. 

Looking at the Los Angeles Times late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, I found very little mentioning of the NFL. The biggest story was the rift the national media created between Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez. What I found very interesting was that the Times had a story from New York on their sports page. I know that Tebow and Sanchez are two polarizing personas in the football world, but does the Times really need to be catering to a story that is more than 3000 miles away?

During the games, there was very little updates coming from the Times' website. I also went to my favorite sports website, Bleacher Report, where there was a constant updated blog from the entire NFL lead writer team. I would think that a prominent news site would want to cover the NFL as much as possible, but instead there was very little going on during the games. 

I decided to go back and visit the Times Sunday night, and on the sports homepage I was surprised what  I saw. The main headline was Serena Williams winning her fourth U.S. Open title. The first NFL story on the website was of Robert Griffin III leading the Washington Redskins to upset the New Orleans Saints. Again, the Washington Redskins, an east coast team. No mention of the San Francisco 49ers defeating the Green Bay Packers. 

The Times is arguably the biggest news source on the west coast, and the biggest sports organization in the world received little coverage. Perhaps the Times would cover the NFL more if the St. Louis Rams would move back to LA. But for a news site with three NFL teams in southern California, I would think the TImes would have covered Week 1 of the NFL a bit more than it did. 
 
 
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'Introduction to Sports Reporting', a journalism module by Poynter's News University. The module is being beta tested by #loweclass.
One of the many benefits of having Herb Lowe as a professor is getting real world experience for journalism while still sitting in a classroom. An example being a beta tester for Poynter's News Unitversity's newest module, "Introduction to Sports Reporting."

"Introduction to Sports Reporting" is a module that teaches a reporter how to successfully cover a sporting event. Even though a reporter may have watched sports all of his/her life, and be very knowledgable in the sport, it takes training to be successful as a reporter, much like it takes training to be a stellar athlete. 

What I found to be the most helpful in the module was having the instructor, Joe Gisondi, explain that the best stories do not simply follow the game in chronological order. If a reporter does, the story comes out to be more like a box score rather than an actual story. Gisondi stresses reporters to do their homework before the event begins. Find the interesting story lines between the two teams. If you find a storyline that interests you, it will probably interest your readers just as much if not more. 

Early on in the module, you are tested on how knowledgeable you are in four sports: football, baseball, basketball, and track and field. I found this to be fun because it not only showed me what sports I did not know well (20 percent on track and field), and what sports I knew very well (100 percent on baseball and football). It gives the student a chance to evaluate themselves before even starting the module to see what part they need to pay attention to, and what parts are just refreshers. I myself found it to be a very good combination of the two, which kept me interested throughout the whole module.

However, there were some areas that the module could improve on. The first was Gisondi's explanation of pre-reporting. Gisondi has the student study a preview for a 2009 football game between Eastern Illinois Panthers and Murray State Racers. While the preview itself was pretty well put together, there was a copy editing problem in the preview itself. Also, Gisondi could have made the preview for a different sport than football. The student is learning that background is important, and that a journalist needs to get to know the sport before going to cover that sporting event. Why not give the student a preview of a sport they may not know very well, say soccer or ice hockey? The student is then learning how to do pre-reporting, while also learning more about a sport they may cover at the same time.

"Introduction to Sports Reporting" is a module that is essential to a sports reporter. It teaches the student how to cover a sporting event, whether it be Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals or a preseason game of Pop Warner football.  The module gives real world applications on how to research before a game, what to do during a game, and how to report it after the game. The next would be to teach how to do more feature stories for sports. But "Introduction to Sports Reporting" is a good starting point. 
 
 
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A screenshot of the sports section of the Los Angeles Times, taken on Thursday, Sept. 6. The main headline remembers football great Art Modell.
For #loweclass, every student is assigned a newspaper to continually follow through the semester. For the digital journalism class, I am covering the Los Angeles Times, and will specifically follow the sports section of the newspaper for the sports journalism class. 

Monday night I went to the sports homepage of the Times website. Prominently displayed is the outcome of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's game, an 8-3 win over the Oakland Athletics. The win against the A's prevent a sweep, and also snapped a nine-game winning streak for the A's. Other top stories included Serena Williams advancing in the U.S. Open, and a preview for the season finale in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. 

Next to the top stories are the top sports blogs that the Times sponsors. As a journalist, I find this very empowering because it gives legitimacy to blogging, while also showing that you don't have to be a big name reporter to have your by-line displayed. I currently write for the website Bleacher Report,  and have seen some success on the homepage. It was an awesome feeling, and something that I strive for every time I write a story. Having that capability for the Times give their writers the same goal to achieve. 

Two stories that I found interesting on the Times was "Title IX has benefited anyone who loves sports" and "USC looks scary good; new allegations sound scary bad". The former is a column piece that talks about how Title IX changed the landscape of sports 40 years ago. It was a simple piece of legislation that seemed like it would destroy amateur sports, but in turn allowed it to thrive more than anyone could have imagined.

The latter story was not what I expected. From the title, I expected a blend of commentary of the Trojans' first game, and how/why the new allegations affected the team and players. But instead I was treated to a singe sentence blurb of the new allegations, and a story dominated by the first game and how impressive the players were. In fact, the story focused more on the practices of head coach Lane Kiffen than the new allegations. It seems that the allegations were only included into the story so the headline would draw more readers.
 
The Times seems to cover a plethora of sports, and gives the most prominent of stories the homepage, regardless of ratings. Hopefully, the impending NHL lockout will be covered if (or rather when) the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. But overall, the Times does a good job of giving its readers a sports page, not a singe-sport dominated page.