Life as a Journalism Student at UF

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Being a student in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida has so many incredible perks to it. One of the biggest perks is all of the resources we have available to us. One of these resources is the Center for Media Innovation + Research or CMIR. The CMIR lab is another place in the college that students can get together, and study, do research, or just simply hang out amongst peers. While I haven’t used the CMIR lab as often as I would have liked to have, one area that benefited me greatly was the Innovation News Center or INC.

Being a Journalism major, I spent a lot of time in the INC working on news stories and really, just improving myself as a reporter. Over the course of my 4 years at UF, which sadly are almost over, I have learned countless ways to improve my reporting, writing, and cinematography. Without a doubt, the best project I ever had the privilege of working on was the Veterans Day Special this past fall. It not only contributed to the winning of the FAPB PRO award for Public Affairs, it allowed me to meet a lot of really inspirational veterans, like Les Parrish. You can learn more about him and a few other veterans in the video below, that I shot and edited.

Life as a Journalism student is much more than making the news though. You get the opportunity to travel to different parts of florida, and meet all kinds of interesting people and just listen to their story. As a type of story teller, you have to not only be able to tell the story of the people you interview, but listen to them as well, and with all kinds of experiences and all sorts of triumphs and tribulations that each person has gone through, it’s safe to say that you will almost never have a boring day.

How to Build Your Blog Using The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point is a book written by Malcolm Gladwell, that illustrates 3 basic guidelines to help get your product to its tipping point. The “tipping point” is essentially the point in time right before something manifests itself into an epidemic. Through the utilization of The Law of Few, The Stickiness Factor, and the Power of context, your product should reach its tipping point according to Gladwell.

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The first guideline Gladwell mentions is The Law of Few. “An epidemic begins when a few highly infectious individuals become viral vectors for a product or idea by adopting it themselves and spreading the word.” This in Layman’s Terms, is spreading something via word to mouth. If a few people start spreading word of your product, the people they talk to will then talk to other people, and eventually a domino effect will occur. This happens through 3 different types of people: Mavens, Connectors, and Salespersons. Mavens are the opinion leading consumer experts. They are the first ones to try the product and than boost it if it’s good. Connectors are the spots where people congregate. Not just physically, but electronically as well. So this includes places like Starbucks, and Facebook alike. Salespersons are just what they sound like. They sell the product and persuade people by boosting it.

The second guideline is The Stickiness Factor. In the same way you get glued to a good show, or a good book, the stickiness factor works by attracting you to the product and fixing you on it. If you want your product to take off, it has to have this factor, which is the most important in my opinion. You can achieve this through a various amount of ways, including but not limited to uniqueness, aesthetic appeal, association, engagement, value function or cost. These types of factors can have a very important impact on sales.

The third and final guideline is the Power of Context. The big thing to take away here, is that you should target your context before you even start targeting an audience. The product has to fit in whether that is with the community, the gender, or even the time. Just think about it, you wouldn’t buy a sweater in the beginning of the summer, except for one reason that is, the cost. There are 6 psychological principles in play here. They are Scarcity, Majority, Authority, Beauty, Reciprocity, and Consistency.

  1. Scarcity simply refers to the fact that we as humans value rarity. If someone can only find your products promotion through one source, they will search for it themselves, or even better, other promoters will want to jump on board.
  2. Majority refers to everyone wanting to be aboard what is popular. If you make your product look like its number one, people should herd in.
  3. Authority takes advantage of the brains natural response, to copy those in authority. If certain authorities choose your product, it will likely result in others following suit.
  4. Beauty put plainly, is that we naturally like things that “good-looking” people like. So try to associate your product with beauty if possible.
  5. Reciprocity refers to doing something for your customers in response to them buying your product. This is why suppliers often have buy-one get-one free sales.
  6. Consistency is a trait that human kind automatically searches for. If your product is consistent with the choices of a large population of people, your chances of reaching the tipping point are much higher.

With alllllllllllll that being said, there is no one way ticket to success. I am simply giving you all this knowledge that I have picked up from this book, so that you may apply it and adapt it in your own ways. Remember, one of the key aspects to the Stickiness Factor is Uniqueness. 

New NFL Rule Proposals

The Competition Committee announced the 13 new rule change proposals, 7 new bylaw proposals, and 1 resolution on a conference call today, which will be decided on at next week’s league meeting. The 13 rule changes include proposals such as:

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  1. Move the kickoff to the 40 yard line
    • I personally think this is stupid, because what’s the point. Why not just take out kickoffs in general if you are going to make it nearly impossible for even me to kick a touchback. My strategy would be to have my kicker kick the ball as high as possible and get it somewhere within the 10 yard line. After all, field position can decide a game.
  2. Expand instant replays to include personal foul penalties
    • I think this is long overdue, and will help cut down on incorrect hits on defenseless receivers, facemasks, etc. It could slow down the game a bit too much so it would be interesting to see if this is just a challengeable play, or an automatic review like touchdowns and turnovers. Likely the former, but who knows.
  3. Eliminate Overtime in the Preseason
    • Duh…
  4. Extend the goal posts an additional 5 feet above the cross bar
    • I like this because it will greatly reduce the chance of balls going over the tip of the goal post, making it easier to determine if the field goal attempt is good or not.
  5. Moving the extra point to the 25 yard line (2-point conversions will still start at the 2 yard line)
    • I like the added difficulty to extra points, and the only real flaw with this is the impact on fantasy kickers…ouch
  6. Adding 6 cameras on all boundary lines
    • Putting cameras in places on the sideline, goal line, end line, will help referees get correct calls on replays ten fold. This one definitely gets the Dana Kurtz seal of approval.
  7. Coaches can challenge any Official’s decision
    • Again, this could slow down the game, but it improves the accuracy of calls and I can’t complain about that.
  8. Protect players from getting the sides of their legs rolled up on
    • Basically, adding to the clipping penalty, preventing players from attacking opposing player’s legs from the side as well as the back, which is already a rule.
  9. Allow the referee to consult with members of the NFL officiating department during replay reviews
    • This would be fantastic! Especially if maybe we could see the exchange taking place. I doubt that would ever happen, but it would definitely help with making the right calls, and making sure the refs don’t interpret a rule incorrectly.
  10. NaVorro Bowman Rule
    • Basically, if you remember NaVorro Bowman’s fumble recovery that wasn’t in the playoffs, the NFL is going to try to fix that by organizing what can and cannot be reviewed.
  11. Don’t stop the clock on a sack
    • Self explanatory.
  12. Pass interference can be called within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage
    • The “Contact Within 5 Yards” rule will still exist, but on plays like Quick Slants, corners and other defenders could now be called for PI.
  13. Enforce Defensive penalties that occur behind the line of scrimmage, from the previous spot, and not from the end of the run
    • Basically, the penalty won’t tack on extra yards for certain calls, and instead, yardage would be awarded from the line of scrimmage before the play.

Those are the newest proposed rule changes. There are also some proposed Bylaw changes but this is the most important part in my opinion. Which rules are you in favor of, and which ones do you think the NFL can go with out? Furthermore, are there any changes you’d like to see that aren’t mentioned here?

Finally, if you are looking to mix things up a bit, and want to check out some blogs not about sports, some of my other colleagues do excellent work.

Lauren Crawford handles all kinds of pop culture, and she will keep you up to date on everything happening with celebrities.

Clinton Holzapfel will show you countless ways to fill your stomach with all kinds of meals, while also impressing those you cook for.

Dyanne Lesnever writes all kinds of inspirational stories. Every single one is short, but captivating. Definitely check her blog out.

 

Peppers is Now a Packer

Former Bears Defensive End, Julius Peppers, has reached an agreement with the Green Bay Packers for 3 years and 30 million dollars. Now, Julius Peppers is 34, so it’s likely he won’t play all 3 of those years, but let me tell you why I like this signing. In the first year, Peppers will only get $8.5 million, and the whole contract has a guaranteed value of $7.5 million. Now, if Peppers is still dominant off the edge for 3 years, I’m cool with that as well. Another benefit to signing Peppers, is that he hasn’t missed a game since 2007, and started every game since 2010, according to BleacherReport.

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There is one issue I see though. The Packers run a 3-4, and the Bears run a 4-3. My worry is that with Peppers’ age, he won’t really want to learn all the different techniques and skills he’ll need to, to be effective. What do you guys think, Did the Packers make the write move signing Julius Peppers?

If you guys are looking for more sports news, check out some of my colleagues pages:

Elizabeth Beisel will help you live a healthier life, whether it’s by getting active or eating write.

Benjamin Bornstein will keep you up to date on your NBA and March Madness news.

Trevor Sikkema will give you a different angle on sports, all sports. Check him out if you are interested in a different look at behind the scenes things.

Hakeem Nicks to the Colts!…and a Little About Me

The Indianapolis Colts and former New York Giants wide receiver, Hakeem Nicks, have reportedly agreed on a 1 year deal according to ESPN. It’s not yet known how much the deal is worth, but I would imagine it’s a, “earn your next contract” type of deal. There’s no question Nicks’ production has significantly dropped the last couple seasons, and whether that’s because of all the injuries he’s had, or just inconsistency from Eli Manning, Nicks will have to get back to his old ways if he wants to keep playing in the NFL.

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That being said, Hakeem Nicks will be the first real big receiver Andrew Luck has had in his short career. Nicks along side Reggie Wayne, who says he should be good for training camp next season after rehabbing from a torn ACL, combined with T.Y. Hilton in the slot, should provide Luck with all the talent he needs to put up some very solid numbers. What do you think? Can Hakeem Nicks return to his number 1 receiver self? or will his struggles continue?

In other news, the Philadelphia Eagles and Saints agreed on a trade for Darren Sproles, after the Saints decided not to release the young stunner. The Saints will get a 5th round draft pick out of it, and the way it’s looking now, Mark Ingram is going to eventually take over the starting role in New Orleans. I’ll keep an eye on that and let you guys know if anything comes up.

Now here’s a little bit about me, Dana Kurtz, in case any of you were wondering who’s behind the screen.

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Yep, that’s me. Ignore the cheesy-ness of the photo, some friends and I were recreating scenes from our favorite movies (Fight Club in this case). Speaking of which, I’m very interested in film and making short films with my film group, Novel Concept Productions. We are small, but passionate, just like I am about sports!

I guess a little more detail about me would be fitting now. Well, I’m 22, about to graduate from the University of Florida with my Bachelors Degree in Telecommunications. I’m not quite sure what I want to do with that yet, but I am fairly certain that I will be joining the Air Force when I graduate, hopefully as an Officer. I can also see myself running a sports talk show in the distant future! Lets see here, OH, I also love animals, especially this big doof:Image

That’s Achilles, pretty much the best dog ever am I right? He, just like myself, is a HUGE Green Bay Packers fan. Lastly, I’ll leave you with this: If you follow this blog and would like to start seeing specific updates, whether that be on your favorite team, player or anything in the NFL, let me know in the comments. I will do my best to accommodate all! See you guys next week!

-Dana Kurtz

Sproles, CJ2k, or Tate?

Not too long ago, the Saints cut ties with their elusive specialty back, Darren Sproles. Now that the Titans are shopping around Chris Johnson, and with Ben Tate looking to be a feature back, who is the best pick up for a team in need of a Running Back?

Each guy has their pros and cons, so lets point those out first:

Sproles’ biggest benefit, is his playmaking ability. Along with his speed which helps in the return game, he is also very elusive, making him a threat to go the distance on any play, especially screen plays. Sproles also has great hands to catch out of the backfield.

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Johnson’s also got tons and tons of speed, and even holds the record for the fastest 40-yard dash time at the combine. He is also a threat to take it all the way on any given play, and has deceptive power to fight for extra yards when he isn’t breaking ankles to do so.

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Tate’s the definition of a feature back at 5-11 and 215 pounds, and with an age of only 25, he’s the youngest of the three. He also has had the benefit of sitting behind Arian Foster his entire career, which has probably kept his legs fresh, despite his recent injury woes. The combination of his speed and size, along with his hands make him an ideal starting back because he can play on any down.

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Here’s the real deal, the cons:

Sproles is 30 years old. He plays younger than his age, but the running back position has the youngest average age in the NFL, and for good reason, they take a beating every single game. With that, Sporles is not necessarily a feature back either. He is great for down and distance, and as I mentioned before, the screen plays, but other than that, you really won’t see Sproles in the game when it’s 3rd in 2.

Johnson’s issues lie mostly with his personality. He must be the feature back, and if his line isn’t doing the job for him, he will let them know as he has in the past. I also think the nickname CJ2k is outdated (as catchy as it is). He hasn’t cracked 1,400 yards in a season other than his 2,006 yard performance in 2009, and he’s only broken 1,300 yards in a season once. Of the three running backs on this lists, he probably has the best chance to break 100 yards in a game, but there’s a good chance he only gets 30 if he doesn’t break off that big 60-80 yard run.

Tate probably has the most upside here due to his age. However with age comes experience, and Tate doesn’t have much of it. He also has had some fumble issues, coughing up the ball 5 times last season. That’s not too terribly high, but considering how much playing time he gets, and the fact that he started only 7 games last season makes that number a bit more worrisome. And to reiterate, he has also had some injuries lately, and that’s never good for a running back.

If I’m in the front office of a team like the Browns or Jags (since MJD will likely not be around), I’d probably go with a guy like Ben Tate, simply because his age and upside are superior to the other backs in my opinion. I think he’d be better in the locker room and has the better overall skill sets.

How Can the Raiders Become Relevant?

The Oakland Raiders have arguably been one of the worst franchises in the NFL in recent years, and even if they have the best draft they can possibly have, they are still a good couple of years away from becoming an actual playoff contender. So what is the Raiders offseason game plan?

First of all, I think the one thing the Raiders haven’t had in quite some time is a solid starting Quarterback. Say what you will about Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor, but I don’t think either of them are going to be the number one guy for this organization in the future. Both have some upside but a lot of breaking in to do. With the 5th pick in the draft, it seems very likely that the Raiders could get one of the top 3 quarterbacks in this draft, if they choose to do that. Jadeveon Clowney has suddenly gotten a lot more interesting for the Raiders, with the news that the Green bay Packers are interested in Lamarr Houston, who is one of the best defensive players on a poor Raiders’ defense. Potentially more important than the Quarterback though, would be the guys protecting the Quarterback. The Raiders had some pretty bad offensive line play last season, and if they want any offensive production next year, they need to address the big men up front.

Should the Raiders lose Lamarr Houston though, this will only be one more setback to a team that has had countless since their last good season in 2001. Along with Lamarr Houston, it’s almost certain that the Raiders will finally be parting ways with the injury riddled Darren McFadden who undeservingly should make a splash in Free Agency along with Mike Vick and MJD. I wouldn’t consider this to be a setback though, simply because Rashad Jennings seemed to perform very well in some key games last season. Staying on the offensive side of the ball, the Raiders could use a number 1 receiver as well. Heck, might as well throw a Tight End in there for the sake of it.

The defensive side of the ball is a mess too. The Raiders were 29th in points allowed last season, and 31st in interceptions, according to Pro Football Reference. A key part to that, was the lack of a secondary. It’s hard for a team to get a lead, let alone maintain one without a secondary, and the Raiders definitely don’t have one. Other than Charles Woodson, there really isn’t any big named players in the Raiders secondary, and he’s 37!…so, yeah.

I could pick apart this team all day and probably still not find everything wrong with it, so I’ll ask you guys instead, How do the Raiders turn it around, and become the franchise that was so dominant in the late 70s/early 80s?