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Archive for April 2010

A True Champion of New Media

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They say, if you want it bad enough, you can get it—you just need to put in the work. Well, Evan Brunell is one of those special people.

A native of Sturbridge, Mass., Brunell has paved his own road to success against pretty steep odds.  He founded MVN.com (Most Valuable Network), which was an online sports website, when he was in high school. Unfortunately, in December of 2009, the site had to close down.

“I got into sports at a really early age…My parents put me in sports camps and sports leagues,” Brunell said. Until the age of 10, he attended a private school an hour west of Sturbridge, which gave him a lot of down time. “To pass the time on the bus rides, I read–so I became a sports fan and a reading fan,” he said. For Brunell, reading was the easiest way to gather information because he is profoundly deaf. That means that without his implant, he cannot hear a thing.

Brunell’s younger brother, Cal Brunell said, “when you think about Evan, you think about sports and the  Sox.”

Along with MVN, Brunell has a Red Sox blog Firebrand of the American League and a Twitter account.  His blog has received praise from several media outlets including ESPNBoston.com and from several well-credentialed writers. “It’s amazing how many club officials read … Fire Brand of the American League,” said Peter Gammons, the former Boston Globe Red Sox beat writer, ESPN baseball expert analyst and three-time National Sports Writer of the year winner.

Brunell said he wasn’t trying to do anything drastic with his websites. “I wanted a voice out there,” he said.

Kyle Banks, a 2009 Northeastern University graduate knew Brunell from way back in junior high through their time as undergraduates. Banks remembers how Brunell’s passion for sports and isn’t at all surprised at how far he’s come. “He always had a love for sports, particularly baseball,” Banks said.

Banks is no stranger to the new wave of Internet media himself. As an undergrad he had a radio show on the school radio station, WRBB, whose call sign is 104.9 FM. The show “Right In My Mouth Radio,” was accompanied with it’s own blog to try and reach a greater audience. Since the show, he and some friends began a new blog project, Corporatethuggin.com, which is a blog that publicly shows what kind of stuff a group of 20 something year old guys e-mail and talk about daily and then their take on the news.

Though the genres of their blogs are completely different, the desire to grow an audience remains the same. Banks said:

“The way the internet has evolved, people go to big named places to get their news.”

Banks said. For news, people go to CNN.com and for sports they’ll log on to ESPN.com.

The concept of small market blogging became popular in the last five to ten years. Banks points out that Brunell started at the right time and found success because he could grow and adapt as technology became a bigger part of news gathering and its dissemination.

It is these new mediums of technology that has made Brunell who is today. “New media opens the playing field so much” said Cal with respect to his older brother. Most of the people following Brunell’s blog didn’t know Brunell was deaf until the local paper published an article pointing out all he has done despite his disability, Cal said. He said he saw that article as a tribute to his brother’s work ethic.

Brunell never uses being deaf as a crutch. To get in touch with the Sox’s newest draft picks for example, Brunell logs on to facebook and quickly becomes their friend. This way, as they make their way through the farm system and become bigger names, he has already established a basis of communication. Brunell said, You’re getting in touch with them when they’re 17 or 18 and they haven’t been jaded yet by the media.  This allows him to get in on the ground floor and later on he’s not someone completely new to them, and he think that helps.

Though his first trip to Fenway Park was in 1995 when Mo Vaughn and Jose Canseco were the most popular Red Sox, he truly became a fan the following year, 1996. Brunel said that his passion for the team changed to rabid fan when they traded for Pedro Martinez in 1998.

It’s still tough for Brunell to do what he loves. He can’t just go into the locker room with a tape recorder so he’s a bit of a throw back reporter with a pad of paper and a pen writing down everything.

His disability certainly did not affect his knowledge of sports or his ability to write. “I became a sports writer because growing up liking sports and liking to read and then write, when I was thinking about a career in college I was like, I like sports, I like writing, I may as well write about sports,” he said.

So far, as Brunell puts it:

“My talent has out shown my limitations.  Maybe the day will come…but I’ve been able to push through it so far.”

His disability has made Brunell the kind of person who continually looks for new ways of success. Rather than being afraid of new technology like some journalists, Brunell embraces it and takes advantage of every opportunity as soon as they present themselves.

From the moment he got his college e-mail he created a facebook account and he was on Twitter before most people.

Currently Brunell works for NESN. He continues to do what he has always done: read and write. His passion is evident from the moment you meet him. “I define myself as a driven individual who uses all means available to him to do the best job possible,” he said.

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Journalistic Entrepreneurship

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Dan Gregory, a faculty member of the School of Technological Entrepreneurship at Northeastern, as well as the faculty advisor for the venture accelerator IDEA at Northeastern graced our class today. His enthusiastic words highlighted how the perils of disruptive technologies change the scope of a business discipline.

His previous work brought him in contact with many journalists. Gregory posed the question, “What is it that you could lend a company that is growing and emerging?” Together we came up with a short list of qualifications that we as journalism students feel as though we posses: the ability to write well and clearly, a knowledge of how to gather information, the ability wot work on deadline, communicate clearly, understanding of new technologies, and good question asking skills.

Upon reviewing the list, Gregory exclaimed, “writing well, oh my God! That puts you in a select group of about 5% of people.”

Technology is something that as an entrepreneur you cannot be afraid of. He said that it’s the people not the technology that eventually wins the day for start up companies.

For me, my blog, at its current state, is a perception on sports and modern media outlets and consumption. I don’t know if what I’m doing right now has the potential to manifest into a company because it’s not specific enough. Additionally, if I were to focus only on sports, I’d be competing with the personal blogs of newspaper reporters across the country and with established sports media outlets like Sports Illustrated and ESPN.

Personally, I’m not sure I want to start my own company. My work skills are such that starting something completely new, to borrow a line from Austin Powers, “just isn’t my bag, baby.” I enjoy working with an established team and taking an existing and functioning project to the next level.

Written by lhpious

April 14, 2010 at 3:23 pm

The Comment Section

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It is becoming more and more popular for consumers of news to have an outlet to make their voices heard by the general public and by the papers/publications they read. Unfortunately today’s world poses an interesting dilemma for the media outlets: should those commenting be forced to use their real names or can they continue to do so anonymously?

Though it has not been proven in a court of law, there is one glaring incident in Cleveland, Ohio with the Cleveland Plain Dealer where making people post under their real names would seem logical.  A Cuyahoga County judge, Shirley Strickland Saffold, is currently suing the paper for $50 million because the paper traced her anonymous comments regarding court cases, some of which she sat as the presiding judge for, and published her identity.

One noteworthy individual, Howard Owens, the editor and publisher of TheBatavian.com, wrote on his personal blog how it’s extremely important for news agencies to only let individuals comment using real names.

For me, it’s an interesting predicament. I feel as though the internet is a different medium than print and is therefore afforded different regulatory standards. I am not, however, trying to say that individuals commenting on online stories should be afforded any less constitutional rights of privacy then they would otherwise be given if they were writing a letter to the editor of the New York Times or Boston Globe.

I think that if the only way for people to comment on your site is to do so by using their real name then the comment sections will shrink. This is because we have become accustomed to doing things anonymously via the internet, but as every person of my generation can tell you, nothing you do on the internet is anonymous. Some computer nerd can figure out your IP address and a bunch of other stuff which would identify you and only you as the person making the comments.

Personally, I’m not one to comment on web sites and I don’t really read those sections anyway. Occasionally I’ll glance at the stuff written at the bottom of a funny YouTube clip because it’s usually “laugh out loud” hilarious.

Keeping the identities anonymous is fine with me as long as somewhere in the fine print the news agency states that they reserve the right to find out who you are for whatever reasons. It doesn’t bother me that they may bury the exact line on page 57–if they say it somewhere, then by clicking the box, I’m stating that I’m okay with whatever they say.

And if you make some erroneous comments, then be ready because there’s some computer guy sitting in a basement or a nice executive office who has the tools to find out who you are without breaking a sweat.

Written by lhpious

April 12, 2010 at 3:37 pm

NewsTrust

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In class this week we were lucky enough to have a member from NewsTrust, Mike LaBonte,  come and speak to our class. NewsTrust is a web site that links its users / visitors to news articles from all sorts of publications around the globe. The beauty of this web site is that there are reviews written about every article linked as well as comments.

One thing that I really like about NewsTrust is that they rate their reviewers. If you are new to the site, like I am, the reviews I make are not weighted as heavily as those done by others who have been members for longer and reviewed more articles. This way the other users can gauge the reviews made by certain individuals–after all, some people are always extremely cynical and their reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, but there are also those who always give everything high marks, and news consumers should be aware of that as well.

Each NewsTrust user creates their own personal profile where you can see all the articles they’ve reviewed. I’ve found, that after looking at “My Profile,” I’m generally easy with my reviews of articles.

For me, however, NewsTrust just doesn’t do it. I prefer to read an article and then I automatically have my own feelings about what I’ve just read. This site is all about sharing one’s personal opinion on the journalism of a particular story or news outlet–and I don’t care for that.

I also did not like the content on NewsTrust–there is no variety in the articles. Everything, in my opinion, is political. I’m much more into sports or some other form of entertainment, NewsTrst has just five subjects: World, U.S., Politics, Business, and Science / Technology. Out of those five, I would say I’m interested in the United States and World issues, and that’s it. Then, instead of sifting through people’s comments to find one that may be credible, I would look to someone I already know and trust regarding that issue and ask them their opinions based on the facts of an article.

Perhaps I’m too cocky or arrogant, but I feel as though the time I’ve spent as a journalism student has taught me what is or isn’t good journalism and why an article lacks substance or sufficient proof. I don’t need a site to tell me what the truth is or what is missing from a given piece.

Written by lhpious

April 9, 2010 at 11:41 pm

Posted in Class

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