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The MSU Sports Referendum: A Breakdown

MSU President Richard Davenport’s decision not to fund four team sports has caused controversy campus wide.

On April 20th Minnesota State Mankato President Richard Davenport decided not to sign a referendum approved by the student body to fund four varsity sports for the next three years.  This decision will result in the woman’s bowling, men’s swimming, and men’s tennis teams being cut.  The woman’s tennis team will be saved.

(Full disclosure: I was a high school tennis player and have friends on the men’s and woman’s tennis teams at MSU.)

The original proposal put together by Athletic Director Kevin Buisman called for all four teams to be cut.

The Athlete’s Response

The athlete’s of the endangered teams swiftly responded to the preposed cuts with a petition to hold a referendum that would save the four teams.  The petition was passed and the student athletes looked to the referendum.

All four teams contributed to the raising of support for the referendum. The woman’s bowling team got the word out about the vote. The tennis program held an alumni tournament to raise funds and awareness, but the swimming and diving team stood out as leading the charge to save the sports teams.

Jesse Stanton, a junior on the woman’s swim team, helped organize many of the fundraising and advertising campaigns the athletes held to support the referendum.  Stanton said the teams on the chopping block received mixed signals from administration about many aspects of the referendum.  These mixed signals stemmed from incomplete information about:

  • What student-athletes needed to do to get the referendum on the ballet.
  • Where posters could be placed informing students about the referendum
  • What information could be on the posters.
  • Where student-athletes could campaign on the day of the vote.

The Day of the Vote

22.6% of students voted on the day of April 12th.  This totaled 3,248 students witch equaled about a 10% increase in turnout from last year’s election.  This increase in voting can be attributed in large part to the massive grass roots campaign put on by the teams on the line to get students voting.

When the election results were fully counted 12% of the student body had voted for the referendum.  The exact number was 1,796 for the referendum, 1,287 against, and 165 students choosing to abstain.

Referendum by Numbers

  • 75 cents increase per credit up to 16 credits
  • 18 dollars total tuition increase per year
  • 53 student athletes would have benefited from the referendum
  • 290,000 dollars raised total

Davenport’s Decision

Shock was the most popular reaction on April 20th when President Davenport sent out a press release that spelled out his intentions of not signing off on the referendum. The silver lining of the day was the announcement that the woman’s tennis team would be saved.  Davenport had reasons for not signing off on the referendum:

  • 12% of the student body was not a clear enough majority to raise costs for all students.
  • With tuition to be raised by 6-10% over the next two years anther raise in cost was hard to justify.
  • Since this was a three year solution there was worry of this same situation happening in 2014.
As for the woman’s tennis team being saved Davenport  had separate reasons:
  • The woman’s tennis team is part of the Northern Sun Conference and that agreement was going to be honored.
  • The university needed to stay in compliance with Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972.
For more information Avery Cropp wrote an excellent article on the topic in the MSU Reporter.

What do the Athletes do Now?

With the President’s decision coming so late in the year athletes are left scrambling to make major choices.  Conner Florand is an All-American diver and does not know if he will find a school before next fall.  Florand said since it is really late in the recruiting season finding a comparable place to swim will be difficult.

Thankfully, the university is honoring all previous scholarships athletes received until their eligibility is exhausted.

In an email to student-athletes Athletic Director Kevin Buisman outlined the university policies. Even with this promise Florand says it just would not feel right not having swimming and diving in his life. Many other athletes mirror this sentiment.

The Mystery Rock Wall

Much has been said about a rock wall that could be constructed on campus in relation with the result of the referendum. Simply stated this is a completely separate situation. Current MSSA President Matthew Lexcan clarified the issue.

Lexcan said that because of the excellent financial work of MSU CFO Rick Straka Mankato State was left with 3.5 million in the budget to be used on a project that does not have an annual cost. A complete list of the proposals can be found here.

St. Cloud State Setting a Precedent?

While the referendum was being considered comparisons to the financial decisions made by St. Cloud State were often used.  St. Cloud did pass an athletic referendum but it was much different from what the student body passed on April 12th in MSU.

St. Cloud actually passed two referendums increasing student fees.  These totaled $1.75 increase per credit to save several athletic programs including football.  The difference is that St. Cloud’s referendum is more of a life jacket to keep their athletic program from sinking.

Mankato State’s athletic program is not drowning.  According to Mankato Athletic Finance Director Tim Marshall the outcome of the referendum would not have affected the cutbacks to the MSU athletic program’s budget. The referendum would have simply acted as life support for the individual sports the next three years. This is a contrast to St. Clouds referendum which massively affected their athletic budget.

What MSU Varsity Sports Cost

The full operating cost of each sport is difficult to pinpoint.  A data base that includes scholarship data and coaches salaries does not exist.  The operating costs on game day range from around 165,000 for football and 14,000 for Men’s Tennis.

Faces of the Referendum

 This is a slide show of people affected by the referendum being overturned.  Some will not return to Minnesota State Mankato this Fall.  

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


MSU Reporter Frequently Asked Questions

MSU Reporter FAQ

  • What is the MSU Reporter?

The MSU Reporter is a student run newspaper at Mankato State University.

  • Who runs the Reporter?

The Reporter is run by an editorial board of four MSU students.

  • How do I submit a letter to the editor?

Go to the Reporter’s Letters to the Editor page and fill out the requested information.

  • Where can I find advertising information?

The MSU Reporter’s Media Kit is the best place to find information on advertising in the Reporter.

  • Where can I find audio podcasts?

Audio podcasts can be found under the multimedia tab on the Reporters website.

  • When is the Reporter published?

The Reporters is published Tuesdays and Thursdays during the academic year. The Reporters publication calendar has specific dates of publication.

  • What are are some other ways I can keep updated on the Reporter?

The Reporter can be followed on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

  • Who is on the advertising sales staff?

The Reporter sales staff is made up of five MSU students, two specializing in regular issues and three specializing in supplemental issues.

  • Where do i find on-campus news?

On-campus news can be found under the news tab on the Reporter’s website.

Legal and Social Issues Involving Internet Interactivity

As I read Chapter 11 in Ryan Thornburg’s Producing Online News about making journalism a conversation, two legal and social issues involved in on-line journalism stuck out to me. The first is a social issue that revolves around users commenting on on-line stories.  The second is legal issues coming from a journalist’s activity on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. In this changing world of multi media policies must also change to include these issues.

Having a comment section is a great way of  increasing the interactivity of an article.  However, there is also social issues that stem from allowing the general public to share their opinion in such an open manner.  Sometimes comments are not appropriate.  This can lead to interested readers shying away from commenting on articles.

If I were to run a news room I would make a policy concerning users commenting on on-line articles.  My policy would start with a code of conduct that would simply state that commenters should be respectful in their posting. The rest of my code of conduct would include:

  • Require readers to register with my website before commenting.
  • Require journalists to use a spam filter like Akismet.
  • Require the consultation of the COPPA Act to understand how to deal with people under the age of thirteen.
  • Prohibit unnecessary duplication of  material.
  • Prohibit all vulgar, disrespectful, and unrelated material.
All of these policies would be enacted to keep content in the comment section relevent and readers comfortable.
I feel that when journalist use social networking sites they need to understand the content of their pages can reflect on the reputation of themselves in a professional setting and their employer.
If a employee uses material he or she has access to at work or accidently discloses the identity of a source through a personal blog or socal media site there could be serious legal issues.  An example of this kinda of policy can be found in the New York Times Companies Policy.
In my news room I would add a policy about conduct on a journalist’s social networking site. This would be some of the policies:
  • Journalists must remember to treat the internet in a transparent manner.
  • Material that belongs to my news room must not be used in a personal web site.
  • Journalists should not become any type of “friends” on-line with contacts and sources they work with.
  • Do not include offensive language or images as this will reflect badly on the reputation of the journalist and news room.
  • Journalist’s personal web posts must remain just that PERSONAL. They should not be misconstrued as the opinion of the news room or any other employer.

Same Story, Different Uses of Online Multimedia

The article To rebuild or not? Japan’s tsunami coast wonders was an interesting story written by AP journalist Tim Sullivan.  Sullivan’s article detailed the downfall of a coastal town named Kesennuma  that was ravaged by Japan’s recent earthquake and tsunami disaster.

When the story hit the wire March 27, 2011 multiple online news sites picked it up.  Of all of the sites that posted the story MSNBC.com impressed me the most with their use of multimedia in the article. MSNBC used video, photo galleries, and interactive maps to improve the article for online use.

Underneath the title of Sullivan’s article even before the text started video about the disaster in Japan is made available to the reader. This video is a nice element of multimedia that can immediately engage a reader, but having it before the text took attention away from the article itself. Personally, I prefer the way statesmen.com presented the article in this regard.

In still images and image galleries statesman.com’s presentation was lacking considerably.  Statesman only presented three images on the left side of the article. Also Statesman.com had no related articles or image galleries anywhere else on the article.

MSNBC’s article had many more galleries and even an interactive photoblog related to the disaster in Japan.  MSNBC’s presentation was even more impressive in comparison to haroldonline.com’s presetation of the story. The harold’s story had one photo gallery and links to related stories, but no other options for interactivity with the article.

On top of everything else MSNBC’s article also had interactive maps and graphics that strengthened the story John Sullivan wrote. To make interaction easier MSNBC placed brightly colored tabs on the right side of their article that immediately jump a reader to video, text, maps, and related information.

Rising Gas Prices Could Change Consumers Buying Habits

As gas prices threaten $4 a gallon auto industry professionals are forecasting a change in consumers buying habits.

As gas prices have increased into the upper reaches of $3 a gallon auto dealers prepare for a change in customers buying habits.  Demand for smaller vehicles may be on the rise sooner then later.

Consumer buying habits tend to follow gas prices.  In early 2008 gas prices had increased to $4 dollars a gallon and more people were buying  fuel efficient vehicles.  That same year when gas dropped from $4 to $3 dollars a gallon demand for less efficient vehicles increased.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration there is a 25% chance that gas prices will raise to $4 a gallon this year. This increase is directly related to crude oil prices hitting their highest point in 2 years.

Until this price increase happens it is likely consumer buying habits will stay the same.

Pat Adams, a sales manager at Mankato Motor Co., said there hasn’t been a 2008 style push for smaller more efficient cars.  Adams attributes this behavior to drivers being better prepared for pump prices to increase. “But 4.50 gas could change all that.”

Once gas prices reach $4 to even $5 dollars a gallon concern starts to take hold of not just buyers but gas consuming companies as well.

Volk Transfer of Mankato has 14 diesel burning trucks that log over a million miles a year.  Increased gas prices could mean implementing speed restrictions and fuel conservation programs.

There is still realistic demand for large vehicles, but with higher gas prices looming in the near future people who own these trucks and SUV’s will be feeling the hurt at the pump.

$70 dollar fills of the tank are never fun.  Maybe as history repeats itself costumer buying habits will change with the mounting weight of gas prices.

Keywords: Gas Prices, Increase, Buying Habits

Minnesota Food Shelf Usage Increasing (grade;)this!)

With Minnesota food shelf usage tripling in the last ten years food shelves are looking for a big turn out for the 2011 Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign.

Minnesota residents are relying on food shelves more then ever. Minnesota food shelf visits increased 25 percent from 2008-2009, the largest increase in 28 years.

The 2011 Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign is one of the most important fundraising drives in recent history. This annual campaign hopes to raise a combined 12 million pounds and dollars from residents of the Central Minnesota area.

There is a couple of ways of helping Minnesota food shelves at the local level. Leading food drives and donating money are effective ways of making a difference combating hunger in your own community.

Do not forget the 2011 FoodShare campaign is just beginning. The drive will collect donations throughout March and end the first week in April.

With over 723,000 Minnesotans hungry, every donation makes a difference.

Keywords:
Minnesota, FoodShare, Food Shelf

WhoIs

WhoIs is a tool everyone can use obtain contact information for the owner of a domain name. All that is required is the domain name of the website one wants to check out and shazam there is information about the site’s creator and admins. There is also useful information about when the website was created, updated, and even expires.
For some websites finding the person paying the bills is not that easy. Some sites only give the name of the sites registrar, or the company the site payed to create and maintain the domain name. Go Daddy.com of the infamous Go Daddy commercials is one of these companies. A curious searcher will also find a WhoIs server through the registrar. From this point one some websites are protected by privacy companies so collecting additional information is more difficult.
Even though websites can protect their privacy the possible functions of WhoIs is still impressive. The information collected through WhoIs can be used a variety of different ways both for a normal student writing a research paper and a journalist tracking down leads.
I think the most interesting use of this information is to verify the credibility of a web sites information. Instead of just reading the information posted on the site and make a judgment of credibility one can search the names of the site’s creator and admins to check if they actually have the background that they claim.
On this same track anyone can use the contact information to verify the websites legitimacy. In a more direct manner an interested party could track down the address listed on WhoIs to see if the building is real. All around WhoIs is a great way to find out the people behind a domain name thus learning more about where the information on the site is coming from.

Content Management Systems and Me.

Knowledge of content management systems is important and applicable to the career of journalism.  I feel that one pursuing a mass communications career should be introduced to these systems of managing anything from documents and data to movies and phone numbers.  Personally, I am happy I was introduced to C.M.S’s, because as the internet becomes more prevalent in the journalism, managing information on the internet also increases in importance.  
Two elements of the management systems stuck out to me.  The first is the the importance of keywords.  I never really comprehended how critical keywords are in blogs and other published works before we started studying content management systems. Keywords are what connect an authors content to the rest of the world. Well thought out keywords could be the difference between being on the first page on a Google search and being on page nineteen.
 Another part of the content management systems I thought was interesting was the aspect of concise writing.  I have learned about concise writing in past journalism classes but nowhere is getting to the point more important then when considering internet articles.  Readers are spending less time looking through content and more time looking through different articles then ever before.  That means a blog or articles title must be interesting enough to grab a readers attention while still following the importance of keywords I talked about above.  
There are many applications of the concepts I have described above to my chosen field of journalism. For instance, if I were to work for a newspaper that needed a web site my skills in content management systems would be useful. Also if my employer wanted me to start a blog promoting my stories I would have a much better understanding of how to make that blog more accessible to many interested readers. This is more important as the individual journalist’s reputation becomes more separated from their employer. A third application would be the use of content management systems to manage my own online content. This would be a great way of keeping track of my blogs and understanding what people like reading about. With this information I would be able to be direct my writing more toward what people want to hear.

Journalism of Tomorrow

The article 8 Must-Have Traits of Tomorrow’s Journalist by Vadim Lavrusik immediately grabbed my attention with the first section about entrepreneurial and business savvy. This concept struck me because the idea of starting my own paper has honestly never crossed my mind. Looking forward into the future of my career this business focused aspect of journalism is something I will need to improve.

As I continued to read Lavrusik’s article I was again reminded of my shortcomings. The second section was about how journalist’s with some background in programing are becoming more employable as primary new sources are moving online. Honestly, beyond the basic principles I know as much about programing as Snooki from MTV’s Jersey Shore knows about the specifics of President Obama’s Healthcare plan. For those of you that don’t follow Jersey Shore that is a small about. Again, this is a skill I will work hard to improve so I can keep up with this world of Mass Communications that is changing so quickly.

I am not completely void of journalistic skills. Two of the sections, one talking about basic journalism skills and the other referring to journalists of tomorrow needing to be social journalists, I have a solid base of knowledge to build from. I have always enjoyed writing and I believe I can improve my basic journalism skills all the time. The section about social journalism also fit my skill set because I feel I am skilled at communicating with people. The article spoke about how in this modern time credibility is becoming an individual burden to bear. I am confident in my ability to create a community through different forms of communication online and offline.

A skill I thought was surprisingly overlooked was more use of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.  As the time goes by these sites continue to grow and are becoming a great way communicating with people.  Going along with the community aspect of future journalism Lavrusik talked about the need to be open-minded in the storytelling of different stories. This is one thing I am excited to learn more about, because the world of journalism is improving so fast. I love that instead of getting a sunday paper that includes a picture and a well-written story, readers can now go online and get videos, graphs, and entire slide shows of pictures on the same article. This is an area I want to improve the most because it is the future. I do not want to be left behind.

My First Post

This is my first attempt at making a blog.  I am excited to give my thoughts to the world in a way that is interesting and humorous.  I will draw on my experiences with all the great people here at Mankato State.