The difference four years makes

Four years ago I remember looking out the window of Eggers Hall, my Freshman dorm, and seeing the swirling mob of support for Barack Obama, the newly elected President of the United States. I remember feeling like I was apart of something, that I had voted for a new era of America. I was optimistic.

Four years later, I voted for the same man. The same man won the Presidency. The optimism isn’t the same.

I felt that Obama had done enough with his first term that he deserved my vote for a second time. I couldn’t trust Mitt. I felt that the difference in economic policy was negligible enough that the social policy could swing my vote. Even though the President’s social policy rarely comes under fire. Especially in a term that expects very little Supreme Court turnover. But still, it felt like the Republicans didn’t really expect to win the election. So why should they get my vote?

In 2008 I was hopeful. We had just voted in a black President. America had GONE somewhere. I felt proud of my country. Proud of our growth. That less than 60 years after african-americans were refused the right to vote, that a brown-skinned man could win the Presidency. It was maybe the most staggering example of American racial progress in decades. In 2012, it felt more like default. It felt like the Republicans mailed this one in. In late March, when it became clear that Romney was Obama’s challenger, I declared Obama the immediate winner. No way Obama didn’t beat this stiff. Romney’s flaws were so massive that they could be targeted from miles away. But I mean somebody had to run, right?

Default. Republicans never wanted to win this election. It’s sickening how much of a plutocracy America has become. That the big two-party system can mail in four years of control with knowledge that they can run the next eight. I mean, best-case scenario for Republicans is Obama does little with his second term which gives them more firepower to vote in a strong first-time running candidate.

Is this what America has become? That one-half of the political parties can mail in an election, conceding nearly a decade of power in order to ensure control for the following decade? The best Republican candidates were probably told from Republican higher-ups to refrain from this election. They understand the incumbant advantage. Why fire your best shot at an inopportune time? In baseball, smart managers don’t use your best reliever in a three-run game in the sixth inning. You wait until things are up for grabs, like the 8th in a one-run game with runners on second and third. Or in politics, when you can throw your best candidates into the ring (Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio) in 2016 and let them fight for the spot against a wide-open Democratic party which may be looking at an uphill anti-Obama America. You know, like in 2008 when Democrats could of rolled a corpse with a “Fuck Bush” t-shirt on and won the election over McCain.

This election shows the disconnect between the politicians and the public. They think 12 years ahead. We think two years ahead, at best.

I’m glad Obama won. But I can’t say I’m optimistic for the future of America.

And no, I wouldn’t be optimistic if Romney won either.

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NBA podcast week one 

Check it out. 

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The Uncle Dave Bowl

I was sitting in Dos Amigos, a cheap mexican restaurant in Boone. I hadn’t watched a second of the Notre Dame- Pittsburgh game all day. And for most of the day, I had been glad for it. Notre Dame was 8-0, but things were quickly unraveling. We had fallen behind 20-6, and despite a miraculous rally, Notre Dame faced a 33 yard field goal from Pittsburgh in the second overtime that would have ended the undefeated dream. I was receiving frantic texts from my dad and sister every 30 seconds. I was maybe a quarter engaged with my friends and their conversation. I was just waiting for the hammer to drop. For my dad to text me “FG good. Pitt wins.”

All I could think to myself was “We need a miracle.”

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That’s what I tweeted roughly 30 seconds after Tony Parker drilled a cold-blooded buzzer beater to top the hated Oklahoma City Thunder 86-84 to give the Spurs a super early lead over both LAs and OKC in the West.

Once again, there was no Manu Ginobili. But the Spurs didn’t seem phased by it. Danny Green and Stephen Jackson filled in admirably. Or at least enough to neutralize the Thabo Sefolosha/Kevin Martin duo of OKC.

Of course Duncan was brilliant again. What else do we expect at this point in his career?

But if you’re a Thunder fan, this is your worst fear, right? By trading James Harden, the Thunder basically threw the keys to their team to Russell Westbrook. And Russell Westbrook blew the game. Russ basically said on the final possesion “Aight, I’m going to go for the ball AND NOTHING ELSE.” This, unfortunately, led to a wide-open Tony Parker winning the game.

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It’s time to overreact!

After one (or two for the Lakers) NBA games in the books, it’s time to COMPLETELY OVERREACT to the opening games. Because it’s 2012 and that’s what the media does, right?

1.) Lakers fans, the panic button is to your left. Hit it at your convenience. Steve Nash is already injured, Dwight clearly isn’t 100%, Kobe is in full-on “great stats, played bad” mode. Also Mike Brown is a pretty bad head coach. Everybody who watched Cleveland closely in 2010 is nodding vehemently in agreement.

2.) Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis belong in the same sentence for ROTY. This one may not be an overreaction. Lillard was fantastic tonight. If he keeps getting the usage he got tonight, he should be up there during awards season.

3.) James Harden is an MVP candidate. Dude crushed a potentially not terrible Detroit team. Also Jeremy Lin is appearing to be the player anybody without head trauma thought he would be: a decent scoring threat who can make plays but can’t defend anybody one-on-one. Although his steals were nice. It’s a win when Lin can match his TO’s with forced TO’s.

4.) George Karl: potentially a terrible choice for Coach of the Year. Again, total overreaction, but Kosta Koufos played three minutes less than Kennith Faried and JaVale McGee combined. Listen, Koufos is a good ball player. But McGee and Mannimal are what pushed the Nuggets to almost the second round last year… and they play less than 40 combined? Come on Karl. There’s a reason you only scored 754 (other than Danillo being out).

5.) Lamar Odom: so not washed up he might be a valuable contributor on a Clippers team that could win 50 games. Odom is totally fat. But he’s trying really hard! He had a brilliant series near the end of the first half where he was just doing everything on both sides of the ball. I may of been wrong, Lamar.

Some reactions that are probably not overreactions.

1.) Alvin Gentry, seriously dude? Sebastian Telfair and P.J. Tucker played most of crunch time for Phoenix tonight. “But Jake,” you’re probably saying aloud to yourself right now. “I thought Sebastian Telfair was terrible, also who the hell is P.J. Brown?” Well, person I made up, you’re right. Sebastian Telfair IS terrible. And there’s no reason for you to know who P.J. Brown is. He played in Europe for the last two years and yes, he is also bad. Listen, Alvin. There’s this guy named Kendall Marshall on your bench. Yeah, he’s raw and he can’t score very consistently, but there’s one thing he can do really well: not be as dumb on a basketball court as Sebastian Telfair. This season isn’t going to result in the playoffs. Run your young guys and see what happens. Just have fun with it.

2.) Re-upping on Stephen Curry will be a worse contract than re-upping on DeMar DeRozan. Sorry Golden State fans. Curry is by faaaar the better ball player. But DeRozan will play in roughly 10 more games per average per season. Better bang for the buck. Even if DeRozan is so overrated I actually laughed out loud for a second when I read about his extension. 

3.) The Pacers might be better without having to awkwardly split minutes between Paul George and Danny Granger. Yeah, Granger is a better go-to scoring option. But Paul George is just a freaky freak on the basketball court. Plus I don’t think any basketball player has been so disproportionately valued based on one above-average season than Danny Granger after 2008-09. Oh wait, I forgot. This is the NBA, where this happens every year. I see ya, corpses of Channing Frye, Allan Houston and Rashard Lewis.

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It took me 47.5 minutes to realize Manu wasn’t playing

Yeah, let’s just say I’m still in pre-season mode. I’m like Shaq, I gotta play myself into shape. Anyway, here are five thoughts about the Spurs 99-95 season-opening win.

1.) Can people shut up about Duncan being washed up? At this point, he is what he is. Somebody who can occasionally throw up 20/10, play solid defense and set terrific picks to fuel the Spurs offense. He’ll have off games, but come on guys. He’s 36. Not 108. With Tiago Splitter’s improvement, expect him get less minutes than last year. He’ll be fine for the playoffs, which is the only thing that really matters anyway. 

2.) Speaking of Tiago Splitter, Tiago Splitter! With exactly zero DeJuan Blair, Splitter is going to have to play big minutes. Before the season I was admit about San Antonio trading for another big to protect the rim and match up better with the Lakers. But if Diaw and Splitter continue to play solid, we might not need to. But then again, a Splitter/Neal or Patty Mills might be enough to get another body.

(That might be the most homer paragraph I’ve ever written. Why don’t I just compare Splitter to Omer Asik and stop beating around the bush already?)   

3.) Everybody, welcome to the Anthony Davis show. He’s doing exactly what he did in college: affecting the game without the ball and throwing together three or four hyper-athletic plays. The Hornets’ athleticism and shot blocking will keep them in every game. Especially if Al-Farouq Aminu does what he did tonight every night. 

4.) Glad to see the Kawhi Leonard pre-season hype carried over to game one. It was all him in the third quarter to put the Spurs in command. With a healthy Manu and an improved Kawhi, the Spurs could lock down the No. 3 slot of “teams with an abundance of just stupid talented perimeter guys”  behind Miami and OKC. 

5.) Still Tony Parker’s team? Still Tony Parker’s team. Despite sitting for a good chunk of the second half, Parker nailed the biggest shot of the game to put the Spurs up for good. I said before the season that Parker was going to lose his Top 5 MVP spot to Rondo. I don’t think Tony is going to let that go easily. 

Bonus point! Living in the heart of ACC country without a favorite ACC team, I develop complex relationships with players from every team each year. There have been guys I loved, like Jeff Teague, Kendell Marshall, Gerald Henderson, Malcolm Delaney and the aforementioned Aminu. There have also been guys I’ve just really hated, often for bad reasons, but they’ve earned my hate none-the-less. The Hornets employ, in my expert opinion, two of the 10 douchiest players to pass through the ACC. And they’re both guards! Greivis Vasquez and Austin Rivers are a Harrison Barnes trade away from owning the first ever all-ACC douchebag perimeter squad!  Keep your options open, Dell Demps. Your next marketing campaign was in the previous sentence. 

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If I were really to do citizen journalism justice, I would have just posted a 140 character blog

Also the blog would have contained half-baked information and contained at least one vague hashtag. Actually, let’s give that a shot.

#Amberg now considered “premiere citizen journalism expert” sources out of Elon say. Stay tuned for his final #litreview coming later today.

Boom, there we go. Shut it down. Blog over.

But really, the research and thinking I’ve put into this paper has made me so much more media aware than I was two months ago. When I first started kicking ideas around for this research project, I took my two areas of strength and looked at them. Sports? Meh, maybe, but that wasn’t something I felt I could really sink my teeth into for a research paper. Journalism? Well that’s something! What scares journalists the most? The internet of course! And how anybody can be a journalist on this Twitter contraption!

From there, my idea was launched. The two biggest questions I had going into this project were “what is the strict definition of a citizen journalist?” And “what does citizen journalism bring to the journalism table?”

Imagine journalism being a pot luck. Each news source brings something. The New York Times usually brings a pot roast, CNN brings a terrific cake, Al Jazera brings seriously the best calamari you’ve ever had. Is citizen journalism that loser who shows up with a bag of Doritos and a box of Harris Teeter cookies and is like “Uh, sorry dudes, this thing totally slipped my mind,”?

Unfortunately, those questions are really, really hard to answer. At least based on my research.

I was able to nail down that citizen journalists were, but not excluded to: bloggers, social media users at the scene of an event, amateur photographers who send in their content to news stations, podcast creators, and rebels in countries overthrowing their countries governments and reporting on the status. So that’s a broad spectrum.

The second question was easier to pin down, but had a more impassioned debate from both pro-citizen journalists and people who don’t feel that citizen journalists necessarily helped the news making and gathering cause.

I eventually came to a general conclusion in my brain. Citizen journalism has been a latent thing in our culture ever since regular journalism was a thing. It just was impossible for people to reflect openly on events and relay them to other citizens. At least on as wide of a scale as we do today. This is why I feel that citizen journalism is a good thing. It promotes conversation within the world of current events. I have a hard time finding fault in this. It’s when we get into practice that we have the biggest problems.

Citizen journalism can be false. And this can lead to regular journalism to be false, because citizen journalism is relied upon a little heavier than we really like to acknowledge. Back in the “Golden Days” of pre-internet journalism, guess who the people were who tipped off journalists? They certainly weren’t other journalists! They were regular people. Now there stages for regular people to relay their information to the public.

The area that I really want to study the most is the distribution of social networking sites, and how information is diffused through them. If there was a way to remove the content that was created by the major news organizations (CNN, AP, Al Jazera, NYT and etc.) what percentage of content would come organically from users? And after that, how wide of an audience could it reach?

How citizens interact with each other in the digital age is remarkably fascinating. I hope to learn more about it in the future.

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