UMass Director of Media Relations Ed Blaguszewski discusses Blarney Blowout

It was a sunny, warm day on Saturday March 8, and for many students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst it meant that spring was just around the corner.  In the annual event called “Blarney Blowout”, thousands of college students, both UMass students and non UMass students gathered in the Townhouses to celebrate.  55 people were arrested at the event along with thousands of dollars in damage to the town of Amherst.  A week after the event, Director of Media Relations at UMass Ed Blaguszewski came and spoke to our journalism class to discuss the issue.  Here’s a list of some of the topics debated.

Before I share my opinions on what unfolded at Blarney Blowout I was not present for the event. I was working for both WMUA and the Massachusetts Daily Collegian at the men’s lacrosse game. I was doing announcing for the radio and reporting the game for the paper at the same time. I do not have a first hand account of what happened at this event and am going off of research that I have done of the event.

 

  1. “This was primarily an off campus event”

This is the most important piece of information in regards to this event. Although it was primarily UMass students who participated in Blarney Blowout, the school itself had limited control of what it could and could not do. Because it took place off campus, this has more impact on the Town of Amherst rather than the University.

 

  1. “About 60 percent of those arrested were not UMass students”

It seems as if almost every news source is blasting the UMass students for what took place at Blarney. While I will agree that it was primarily our classmates participating in the event, more than half of who were getting arrested had nothing to do with our school and were just visiting.

 

  1. “Social Media blossomed this event”

According to Ed Blaguszewski, he said that that social media was the driving force behind Blarney Blowout. People were communicating where and when to meet for this event via Twitter and Facebook and that was the driving force behind the event. Had it not picked up so much steam on those sites I wonder what the size difference of the event would have been.

 

  1. “I support the email that was sent to the students before Blarney Blowout”

That was a direct quote from Blaguszewski himself. Day’s prior to the weekend, UMass Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy sent an email to the entire student body with information about Blarney. It is not at all surprising Blaguszewski agreed with Subbaswamy’s decision considering the two work side-by-side. Also many people are saying that this email only provoked students to attend the event and rebel. I’m saying it was the complete opposite, if you were planning on going; you were going to go regardless of any email sent.

 

  1. “Guest Policies were the same on that weekend”

I feel as if this point is getting vastly overlooked. Considering about 60 percent of those arrested were not UMass students, it is a safe guess that many of those were friends that came from other schools and towns. I think it would be foolish if the University didn’t look into ways they can reduce the number of guests that attend and it all starts with the sign-in policy. I am all in favor of bringing down the number of guests you can sign in for events like this.

 

  1. “We don’t have a number on the cost of damage”

I did not expect Blaguszewski to have this number with this press conference happening just a few days removed from Blarney. However, he did say that because this was primarily a situation with the town of Amherst and the Amherst police department, it was going to be them who had to deal with the majority of the costs and not the university itself.

 

  1. “The event want much larger than it has been in years past”

Now I didn’t know this but according to Blaguszewski, Blarney Blowout used to be a promotion that the local bars would put together and didn’t really involve the whole UMass student body. As times have changed and more students have gotten involved, the stakes have been higher and the amount of punishment has also increased. He said that because of the larger crowd that was the reason behind more arrests.

 

  1. “We don’t know how we are going to deal with Blarney Blowout in the future yet”

No surprise that Blaguszewski doesn’t know what the university is going to do to fix this issue in years moving forward. The school is doing the right thing by investigation all reports first then making a decision.

 

I think in follow up stories various news stories should have gotten the perspective from students who didn’t attend the event and from members of the town that were directly affected from Blarney. Everything that I have seen has just been about the destruction students caused and the student’s involved reactions. The reports have been too one sided and I would like to see the towns reaction because it seems as if UMass is putting the majority of the responsibility on it.

Michael Sam: The Weight Lifted off his Shoulders

Image

Photo take from https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/432651642471591937/y_krnD0y.jpeg

It’s never easy being a trendsetter.   Being the first one to stand out from the rest of a mass number of people take serious courage and bravery. Michael Sam took not only the entire football world by surprise, but caught the attention of the entire nation when he announced he was gay.

When people think about football players, they think of big, strong, athletic, and tough men who love running around hitting people. Looking at Michael Sam you would think he’s just a regular football player. The 6-foot-2 260lbs defensive end from the University of Missouri set school records, won national awards, and led the Tigers to a 12-2 season including a victory in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.

But Sam’s story goes much beyond the visual appearance of a college football player entering the draft. His story is about being accepted, and being his own individual person.

On Saturday Michael Sam sat down with ESPN, The New York Times, and Outsports and simply uttered the phrase, “I am an openly, proud gay man.”

Sam admitted that he had told his teammates and coaches before the season began in August that he was gay. His relationships with his teammates, classmates, and members of the Missouri community supported his decision and never let that affect how they viewed Sam as a person.

Both CNN and CBS News had this story as part of their main news Monday morning. Both played clips of the interview that Sam had from ESPN, and then visualized the statement that the NFL gave in regards to his announcement. This was the following statement release by the NFL; “We admire Michael Sam’s honest and courage… [and] look forward to welcoming and supporting [him] in 2014.”

Fox News however chose a different approach to the situation. In the clip on Fox News, the station focused its segment on interviews from other players and coaches that were supportive of Sam and his decision. Fox News however also focused on the impact it had on other players both around the NFL and college football.

In addition to the Fox News segment, Fox Sports 1 had its own clip that included an interview from Saints Linebacker Jonathan Vilma and how he said the NFL wasn’t ready for openly gay players in fear of how the atmosphere in the locker room. Vilma went on saying that players weren’t ready to change and shower with an openly gay man.

It’s still too early to really get a feel for how different news stations treat this incident. The details of the whole story are still being arranged and there hasn’t been much opinion pieces on major news stations.

Whether you support Michael Sam for being an openly gay man or not, there is one thing you do have to respect about the young man, and that’s his courage and fearless attitude and his willingness to go against the curve and be openly gay in the NFL.

Leads

1. http://www.gazettenet.com/home/10965622-95/new-pvta-routes-proposed-in-amherst-northampton

An effort by the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority to expand and improve bus service throughout the region is fueling a bevy of proposed route changes that transportation officials believe will make riding the bus more convenient for thousands of customers — and might attract new riders.

Type of Lead: Summary Lead

This lead gets the job done, its a good length and describes the content perfectly without going into too much detail.

Rating: Good

 

2. http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/national/2014/03/woman_hurt_in_destructive_montana_avalanche_dies

MISSOULA, Mont. — A woman who was rescued about three hours after her Missoula home was destroyed by an avalanche has died.

Type of Lead: Blind Lead

I wasn’t particularly fond of this lead, although it tells a brief snap-shot of the story, I feel as if it could have gone into a little bit more detail to grab the readers attention.

Rating: Bad

3. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/a-good-sex-life-can-help-oldere-couples-cope-with-illness-other-difficulties/2014/03/03/4e36bd0c-9f2d-11e3-b8d8-94577ff66b28_story.html

Among older couples, physical illnesses can strain a marriage, but maintaining a healthy sex life could make a difference in how happily both partners cope, a new study suggests.

Type of Lead: Lead with issues

I’m not sure if it’s the lead that grabs my attention or the content of this article that interests me.  I’m going to go with the lead because I want to read more.

Rating: Good

4. http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/03/03/brockton-man-charged-with-killing-year-old-boy-mother-faces-lesser-charge/JQYZZgAoCDkUrK1PJ4KFXP/story.html

A Brockton man is being charged with the June beating death of a 4-year boy, and the child’s mother faces an accessory charge, officials said Monday.

Type of Lead: Blind Lead

Once again this is a blind lead that gets the job done.  I’m not too high on it mainly because it presents two separate issues in the one lead.

Rating: Bad

5. http://newsfeed.time.com/2014/03/02/thief-steals-from-girl-scout-cookie-donation-jar/

A group of Girl Scouts were just doing their thing, selling cookies outside a southern California grocery store last weekend, when a man stole around $40 in cash from the group’s donation jar, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Type of Lead: Summary Lead

Not a bad lead for the story.  Gets the job done in my opinion.  Just a side note, who is that cruel that they steal money from innocent girls just trying to sell girl scout cookies?

Rating: Good

6. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/03/netflix-phishing-scam-customer-support_n_4892048.html

A new phishing scam targeting Netflix subscribers preys on our blind trust of customer service representatives when it comes to our personal information.

Type of Lead: Lead with issues

I wasn’t happy with this lead at all.  It didn’t tell us what the scam with Netflix was and how it affected the people.

Rating: Bad

 

Lessons Learned from Lou Grant

“Lou Grant” was a TV drama that ran for five seasons from 1977-1982.  The show focuses on the job of Lou Grant, the city editor for The Los Angeles Tribune.  Despite being outdated, “Lou Grant” shows an accurate description of how an actual news room runs for a city paper.  Between the relationships with members of the paper and the news itself, the series does an excellent job of showing just how crazy working for a newspaper can be.  The series also shows just how difficult it is to put your friendships aside when reporting and not showing an bias towards one side or the other.  Although it does take place more than 30 years ago, many of the scenes in the show could be very similar to those in today’s journalism world.

Season 1, Episode 1: Cophouse

The first episode of the show shows the difficulty of reporting while remaining impartial to both parties.  There was a scandal between some off duty police officers and under-aged women that happened at a volunteer event.  George Driscoll is a reporter for the paper that has worked with the Los Angeles Police Department for many years now and has gotten to know the officers on a personal level.  Although Driscoll knows information about the story, he refuses to report it to the paper in fear it will ruin his friendship with the officers in the LAPD.  After gathering information from other sources, Grant presents the story to the front page of the paper however other editors and the owner of the paper refuse to print the story in fear it would hurt the image of the paper.  Eventually Driscoll writes the story about the scandal with the information he knows and the story is printed on the front page.  This episode shows that even if you do make friendships, you cannot let that show in your writing as you must be neutral.

Season 1, Episode 2:

This episode focuses primarily on the incident that takes place between reporter Joe Rossi and a gunman holding him hostage.  After his brother was killed, the gunman immediately turned on The Los Angeles Tribune because he felt as if the paper didn’t print the actually story of what happened.  This is a dilemma over speed vs. accuracy.  In the newspaper industry every papers goal is to be the first to report an incident.  However, if they print their story without proper evidence of the situation then the story is no good.  Also at the end of the show, another lesson is learned that instead of glorifying terrorism and putting it on the front page, it is important to protect the image of the paper.  The owner wanted to make sure they wrote an apology letter to the victim instead of showing the actual story on the front page.  

Technology in the Classroom

The days of sitting in class and taking notes from a teacher on the blackboard are slowly coming to an end.  With the advancement of today’s technology, more teachers are constantly transitioning to technology for class postings and notes.

Now that teacher’s can completely control their classes from the internet, students now have the ability to get information the instantly.  In addition, students and teachers can communicate faster than ever before without meeting face to face.

Below are five links that exemplify how using technology makes the classroom setting more productive.

1. http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/EdReformStudies/EdTech/effectsstudents.html

This website just gives a basic overview on the different ways technology is now used in the classroom.  The website is broken down with multiple headings explaining the different ways technology is used.  Although the website is full of good information, it is not very visually appealing and the words in the background make it hard to read.

2. http://www.teachhub.com/50-ways-use-twitter-classroom

Twitter is one of the most influential websites today.  It allows people to stay connected with their friends and also serves as a new source for many of its users.  Both teachers and even schools and athletic programs have created Twitter accounts to post information about upcoming events and other news.  This website gives a list of how teachers can productively use Twitter as an academic tool.  The list format is very easy to understand and the pictures make it even easier for people to follow.

3.   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-goodwyn/technology-in-the-classroom_b_1857369.html

This was an article written by Bill Goodwyn on September 6th, 2012.  This article focuses on the perspectives of the teachers rather than the technology that is used in the classroom.  Goodwyn explains in this story that if teachers aren’t properly trained to teach, then all the technology they have is useless.  I 100% agree with Goodwyn’s stance because if the teacher’s aren’t qualified then work is practically pointless.

4. http://www.teachthought.com/technology/five-common-applications-of-technology-in-the-k12classroom/

This is another website that gives examples of how technology is used in the classroom.  What is good about this site is that it shows both the positive and negative affects that each method has.  For example, it explains how productive personal laptops and ipads can be for the classroom, but also explores the negative aspects including cost.

5. http://blog.ted.com/2013/05/06/7-tech-tools-now-available-in-the-classroom-for-better-or-worse/

This blog focuses more on the specific programs of technology rather than the techniques used as a whole.  This is a good source because it goes more in depth than the standard websites about technology in the classroom.  One specific item addressed is the usage of “SmartBoards” and how they can help be an interactive tool in the classroom.

Andrew Cyr's Thoughts