Monthly Archives: May 2013

Abolish the NCAA (cont.)

By Christopher B. Daly

Former North Carolina head football coach Butch Davis talks with former defensive tackle Marvin Austin in a file photo. Austin is a key player in investigations involving improper contact with sports agents. JEFF SINER — JEFF SINER - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Former North Carolina head football coach Butch Davis talks with former defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who is a key player in investigations involving improper contact with sports agents.
JEFF SINER — JEFF SINER – jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The latest episode of stupid, destructive results stemming from collegiate involvement in big-time athletics involves the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. This one is particularly painful to me, since I got my master’s degree at UNC in 1982. (Yes, that was the height of the Michael Jordan era in Tarheels hoops, and yes, I was a fan. I had not yet figured out how deeply corrupting the NCAA is.)

In today’s column, the NYT’s Joe Nocera lays out some of the low-lights from the downfall of UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp (what a name!).

Here’s a link to some of the coverage of the UNC mess by the estimable N&O, the News & Observer of nearby Raleigh. You know you’re in trouble when the biggest paper that covers you has to create a standing headline like “UNC Scandal.” The N&O has a story about a recent talk given by Mary Willingham, who once labored in the belly of the athletic beast, helping unprepared athletes navigate their ways to remaining eligible while working nearly full-time as minor-league players for pro sports.

Willingham, who worked as a learning and reading specialist inside UNC’s academic support program for athletes, talked Thursday about her struggle to combat the system. She spoke of NCAA paperwork that arrived annually that required a signature and promise that she hadn’t seen cheating, or been a part of it.

“I’ve got to tell you that most of the time, I scribbled my initials on it,” Willingham said. “So yeah, I lied. I saw it – I saw cheating. I saw it, I knew about it, I was an accomplice to it, I witnessed it. And I was afraid, and silent, for so long.”

Willingham still works at UNC, though not with athletes. She’s an assistant director in the center for student services and academic counseling. Of the 750 to 800 athletes at UNC, she described 150 to 200 of them on Thursday as “seriously underprepared” for the academic rigors of college life at UNC.

During her 20-minute speech, she lambasted the NCAA – calling the organization a “cartel” and describing its academic entrance standards for athletes “a farce.”

And she should know.
What more is there to say? Abolish the NCAA, before it corrupts another fine school. 

 

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What is “strategic communications”?

By Christopher B. Daly

images-1While not wanting to sound holier than anybody, I have to ask:

What is a school of Journalism (not to mention the oldest one in the country) doing with a search for a new professor of something called “strategic communications”?

The once-proud University of Missouri School of Journalism, founded in 1908, recently posted this job advertisement:

The Missouri School of Journalism is seeking a colleague who will teach at the graduate and undergraduate levels in strategic communication in the areas of marketing research, data analysis, and consumer insights.  We invite applications for a full-time 9-month tenure track assistant professor beginning in August 2013.

Why are they teaching “marketing research, data analysis, and consumer insights”? What do those things have to do with journalism? Journalism is simple to define: try to find out the truth and tell it. I don’t know what those other activities are. They sound suspiciously like figuring out how to sell stuff (and maybe candidates or ideologies) to people who may or may not be better off after being researched and analyzed.

Obviously, the answer is that Mizzou has strayed from its original founding mission. That mission was spelled out by the school’s first dean, Walter Williams. It is worth recalling:

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The creed

I believe in the profession of Journalism.
I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of responsibility, trustees for the public; that all acceptance of lesser service than the public service is a betrayal of this trust.
I believe that clear thinking, clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism.
I believe that a journalist should write only what he holds in his heart to be true.
I believe that suppression of the news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible.
I believe that no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman; that bribery by one’s own pocket book is as much to be avoided as bribery by the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another’s instructions or another’s dividends.
I believe that advertising, news and editorial columns should alike serve the best interests of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.
I believe that the journalism which succeeds the best-and best deserves success-fears God and honors man; is stoutly independent; unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power; constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of the privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance, and as far as law, an honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship, is a journalism of humanity, of and for today’s world.

 

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End cell-phone thefts

By Christopher B. Daly 

Here’s my idea for a solution to the growing problem of cellphone thefts: build in the equivalent of the exploding re-dye packs that banks put in the bags of cash they give to bank-robbers. That way, robbers will figure out pretty quickly that it’s not worth stealing phones. It also makes the bad guys pretty easy to spot.

Besides, how satisfying would it be to know that the rotten bastard who stole your phone had a face full of red dye?

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