Saturday, January 27, 2007

The benefits—and drawbacks—of citizen journalism

An independent style of reaching the masses is gaining steam and entering the mainstream. With the advent of new technology and new media, the phenomenon known as “citizen journalism” has been taken to a new level.

Without a newsroom, journalists, bloggers and mere citizens have become able to send their messages to the masses. There is debate with respect to the viability, accuracy and importance of citizen journalism. Although leading news stations, such as ABC and CBS, have reported on the rise of citizen media (Online NewsHour), many leaders of news organizations are still trying to figure out whether or not participatory journalism, as it is also called, is needed in their companies. These leaders are filled with “concern and a healthy skepticism” (Outing).

Accoring to an article on the Poynter Institute’s Web site, there are many layers of citizen journalism. The first steps are to open up to public comment and include citizen add-on reporters (Outing). For example, some news Web sites allow their readers to comment on the articles they read. These observations can shed light on topics that were not thoroughly covered or properly explained by the writers. Unfortunately, some news organizations don’t allow this because they feel they are giving up too much control to the readers (Outing, Dorroh). They forget that an Internet post can give birth to significant discussions that keep news stories and relevant subjects in the minds and conversations of the people.

One such example of “indymedia” took place in 1999 in Seattle. During this time, there were riots at World Trade Organization meetings held in the Northwest. Self-appointed journalists were taking the initiative to report what was going on. In doing so, they painted a very different picture from what the local media portrayed as anarchy (Social Tech). A group called the Independent Media Center was formed, helping change the way journalism is done today (Social Tech). While such groups generally have trouble maintaining an objective point of view, they also can provide worthy alternative points of view.

Another similar group, Backfence, started up in May 2005 (Dorroh). Building their own technology with about $100,000 they earned as consultants on similar projects for major media outlets, Mark Potts and Susan DeFife founded an "all local" citizen journalism company in the Washington, D.C., area (Dorroh). For a relatively cheap price, the technology employed by Potts and DeFife allows its users to post information and photos, and to edit the posts of other citizen journalists. In this way, their Web site is like a hybrid blog-wiki.

Overseas, the citizen journalism trend has also taken root. Within 24 hours of the London bombings, the BBC received about 20,000 e-mails and 1,000 photos from citizens trying to contribute to the news (Woullard).

Some folks wonder if we have taken the idea of “freedom of the press” too far. While I have extolled some of the virtues, such as accessibility, of citizen journalism, critics remain opposed to the practice. The downside of allowing average Joes to publish their ideas is the possible harm done to reputations due to faulty or “suspect” information (Coursey).

“I am not a big fan of the ‘citizen journalism’ being practiced on the Internet these days,” David Coursey of wrote. “One of the tenets of ‘real’ journalism is that you don't distribute information that hasn't been checked. Citizen publishers are under no such obligation…”

Although corrections can be made to inaccurate posts, some readers or viewers may never see the corrections and assume the original story is true (Coursey). Besides, who wants to take the time to correct what Coursey calls “wacky Internet posts?”

There are pros and cons to citizens’ journalistic efforts. However, despite its drawbacks, the ability to get fresh and varied opinions and information make citizen journalism a significant part of media in the Information Age.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Welcome to the Blog!

Welcome to the Sam Scorup blog. It's a new site and has a limited number of features right now, but that will change. Take a look at some of the Web sites that I've posted links to. Also, you can scope out a couple of nice pictures. Thanks to everyone that helped with the photos and stuff. They're fantastic!

This blog is starting as an assignment for a class at BYU, but I'm hoping it turns out to be a fun project. I'm excited for it and I hope to be able to post some meaningful information and get some good discussion going on the site.

Feel free to read what I wrote about a hometown friend who plays on the BYU football team, the rise of international players in the NBA, and an article on the changes in marriage age among Latter-day Saints. The Keele article was published in the Tri-City Herald (you folks from home know this paper), and the other two were printed in BYU's The Daily Universe. However, here you can find the full text--not the cut-down, lame print versions. You know what that means--these versions are Sam Scorup exclusives, found only on this blog, baby! Consider yourselves lucky.

Que Dios los bendiga,

Basketball’s worldwide popularity changes face of NBA

Big Shot Rob put the finishing touches on his wardrobe, adjusting the collar on the jacket of his golden-colored suit after another San Antonio Spurs victory.

“Hey, Big Shot, do you got a minute?” this reporter asked.

A man who earned his nickname for his seemingly endless list of clutch performances in the playoffs, Robert Horry acquiesced to the correspondent’s request. But Horry wasn’t asked to talk about his exploits this time around; instead, he spoke about the influx of international talent in the NBA.

For the 2005-06 season, the NBA featured 82 international players from 38 countries and territories, according to

Aided by widespread media coverage, the NBA will never again be an all-American league; each of its 30 teams has or previously has had a player from outside the United States.

Intense training regimens for young athletes have contributed to the diversity of the NBA, said Horry, owner of six NBA championship rings.

“They [international players] go out and practice basic skills,” Horry said. “We [Americans] go to school and they go to [basketball] camps, basically. They teach them basketball 24/7. We don’t do that so that’s why the [international] explosion has [occurred]. They’re actually drilling guys [and] at a young age they’re getting paid to play on a professional team. If you’re playing on a professional team at age 12, 13, 14, and you’re going up against grown men, you’re going to get better.”

However, the NBA’s culture hasn’t changed completely, Horry said.

“They’re in the United States, so they adapt to our ways,” he said. “There are so many cultures in this country. They find a restaurant they like or whatever they want to do. It’s a country so diverse anyway; it really doesn’t matter if they’re playing ball or not.”

So how does someone from a country traditionally crazed with soccer make it to the NBA?

“[In my youth], I played a little soccer but I think because of my height and my friends I got involved in basketball,” said Spurs forward Fabricio Oberto, who stands 6-feet-10 and hails from Argentina. “It was my passion since I was young. I started playing at age 7, so I’ve been playing for quite a while.”

Increasing the worldwide representation of the league is a natural result of the improved basketball skill from international players, said Oberto, an NBA rookie and member of Argentina’s Olympic gold medal-winning national team.

“Being the best [basketball] league in the world, I think the NBA grows and looks for the best players in the world,” Oberto said.

Although it was once unforeseeable that a U.S. team of NBA stars could lose to a foreign team, Argentina’s Olympic victory was not unprecedented.

In 2002, at the World Basketball Championships in Indianapolis, Argentina became the first team to defeat an American team featuring NBA players in international competition. The Argentines won the silver medal, losing to Yugoslavia in overtime in the finals.

In 2004, at the Olympic games in Athens, Greece, Argentina defeated the American team in the semifinals and went on to win gold. Together with its gold medal in soccer that same year, it was Argentina’s first summer Olympics gold medals in any sport in 52 years.

The previous successes of the U.S. team motivated other teams to improve, with the hope to eventually beat the Americans, Oberto said.

Members of the Argentine team may still not fully understand the gravity of their victory, Oberto said.

“It’s incredible to be on that [short] list [of teams that have won Olympic gold in men’s basketball],” he said.

Some of the same Olympians are also impacting their teams professionally in the United States.

In the past, the Spurs relied more heavily on Tim Duncan, a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands. In recent years, however, other players from around the world have stepped up their games, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.

“The maturation of Tony Parker [of France] and Manu [Ginobili, of Argentina] really helps us be more balanced and able to have as much of a perimeter and fastbreak game as an inside game,” Popovich said.

Devin Brown, who won a championship with the Spurs and currently plays for the Utah Jazz, said he enjoyed his experiences with teammates from around the world, including a training camp in Parker’s homeland.

“You get a chance to learn about everybody’s background [and] see how they grew up,” Brown said. “It’s very interesting that they all came from different places. That’s one of the things about having so many games and spending a lot of time together; they know a little bit about you and you get to know something about them.”

Don’t expect the flood of international talent to the NBA to slow down, Brown said.

“[International scouting] is intense. Not only in the NBA, but in college, too,” he said. “You start finding more diamonds in the rough, so to speak. It’s a great chance for them to represent their country.”

Marriage Age Among LDS Church Members Climbing

Latter-day Saint young adults have had mixed reactions to the trend showing an increase in the average marriage age among LDS church members.

Although the 2000-2003 U.S. Census Bureau data showed Utah had the lowest average age of marriage in the country—about 24 years of age for men and 22 for women, some three years younger than the national average for each gender—the age has increased among Latter-day Saints, said Elder Dallin H. Oaks, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“This tendency to postpone adult responsibilities, including marriage and family, is surely visible among our LDS young adults,” said Elder Oaks at a CES Fireside in 2005. “The average age at marriage has increased in the last few decades, and the number of children born to LDS married couples has decreased.”

BYU students have also seen signs of the tendency to delay marriage.

“People are scared of commitment,” said Dean Stonehocker, 24, s sociology major from Bonners Ferry, Idaho. “Girls don’t want to get married as much as they did when my parents went to college. They talk about it, but they run away.”

In the 1994 book "Contemporary Mormonism," a compilation of information about the LDS Church, data showed the average marriage age for Latter-day Saints was 22.3 years for males and 21.0 years for females. Although the average marriage age for Utahns may not mirror that of Latter-day Saints, there is a strong correlation between the two.

Bruce Chadwick, a sociology professor at BYU, said he noted the change in marriage age and attitudes among the LDS population.

"You can see the age of marriage has moved up," Chadwick said. "It used to be that you would see someone come back from a mission and get married in 6 months; now, you see people unmarried in their mid-30s."

The current economic situation demands a higher level of education, which sometimes causes delays in marriage, Chadwick said.

"People say 'I can't get married.' It's a big responsibility and they fear one of the spouses would have to drop out of school."

While some adults are anti-marriage, most Latter-day Saints plan on getting married, Chadwick said. However, a need for financial security, higher education and a desire to buy luxuries lead some people to put marriage on the backburner.

The push for education is often misinterpreted as a priority that replaces marriage, Stonehocker said. Even prominent media figures are joining in on the bandwagon when it comes to putting off marriage.

"It's kind of a world trend," Stonehocker said. "Dr. Laura says you shouldn't get married until you're 30."

Stonehocker bemoaned the societal consequences of this trend, such as later marriages resulting in fewer children. This has led to a decreased population in Europe, while in the United States the birthrate has led to only minor population growth recently. Possible pitfalls include a social security crisis resulting from too few youth to care for the elderly, Stonehocker said.

Waiting for marriage has both good and bad repercussions, Chadwick said. On one hand, couples may be more mature if they are older when they get married. On the other hand, waiting longer for marriage can cause some to fall into temptation and moral sin, Chadwick said.

Benjamin Groves, 21, a sophomore from Naches, Wash., majoring in molecular biology, said he noticed a lot of people putting off marriage in his mission country of Nicaragua. Men would return home from missions, lose sight of their goals and fail to seek out a future spouse. They decided to get an education and a job before marriage. Groves said people who weren't married by the time they were 30 years old may have become accustomed to single life, and therefore were comfortable in the lifestyle, sapping them of their desire to find their better halves.

Female BYU students shared similar opinions.

Rikki Purdy, a freshman from Peachtree City, Ga., said the media emphasize career first, then marriage, while highlighting pretty, stable, single women who can live a financially independent lifestyle.

Purdy said she plans to enjoy her youth while she can.

"You're only young once and there's only a certain amount of time to do things married couples can't," she said. "I love the idea of being an independent musician before I have to settle down and think about marriage."

Heather Wilcox, a sophomore from Peachtree City, Ga., said the emphasis on career and education has changed perceptions about the importance of marriage and motherhood.

Additionally, current social ideology emphasizes later marriage, Wilcox said.

"I think timing in marriage is something very personal and something a young woman can only know for herself," she said. "I would hope that young women today don't put off marriage for temporal or selfish reasons, but do make the time to be certain that such an important decision is right."

Stonehocker said people should actively search for a spouse, but not simply rush into marriage.

"People don't need to be jumping in unprepared, but they need to be willing to jump in," Stonehocker said.

And Groves' final advice?

"Go get married, then find me a date," he said.

Othello's Eddie Keele finds meaning in injury

Eddie Keele’s football season and college athletics career ended on Sept. 16.

After tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament, Keele’s dream of playing professional football was in serious jeopardy. Perhaps worse, he wouldn’t be able to take the field for the better part of his senior season, one that held high hopes for the BYU Cougars.

As he lay on the field in Boston, both knees were in pain. Though the injury to his right knee is what cost him much of the season, the left one felt worse at first.

“I thought maybe I had strained something, but nothing bad,” Keele said. “It didn’t really hurt that bad.”

The next morning though, Keele knew something was wrong when he noticed extreme swelling.

The week after the injury, Keele said he had already come to grips with the season-ending injury. He said he was fine. But he was not fine.

Keele later admitted that he had alternated between feeling fine and feeling depressed for the first weeks after the injury. He and his wife, Jennie, cried for a couple of days.

“It was almost harder for her [Jennie] than it was for me,” Keele said. “I’m still a little upset when I think about it. I was shocked for a week straight and didn’t know what to think about it.”

He went with Jennie to his hometown of Othello, Wash., for a few days to shake off the bitter disappointment that accompanies a crushed dream. He didn’t visit anybody besides his family.

Eventually, Keele came to grips with the situation.

“There was a lot of crying the first few weeks,” Keele said. “But now I’m OK.”

Keele still has hopes of playing in the National Football League. Keele said he has made contact with about 15 agents, but at the present time is focusing on rehabilitating his knee. Despite the injury, Keele’s conversations with agents have continued at their normal pace, he said. Perhaps the injury is less crucial to an offensive lineman than it would be to a player who must cut and change direction more often, such as a running back, Keele said.

For a quarterback or running back, racking up big statistics in yards and touchdowns are measuring sticks for performance. Keele’s success on the field, however, can be measured with one number – zero. As in zero sacks allowed in the 2005 season.

This stat is one of the reasons why Keele has gotten looks from agents. And Keele still does what he can so his football career may progress. In fact, Jay Omer the head strength and conditioning coach for BYU athletics, said Keele’s work ethic has helped him add 30 pounds to his bench press since his surgery in September.

BYU’s starting right guard, Travis Bright, said because of hard work, he expects Keele to soon improve on the 535-lb. mark on the bench.

“He comes in well before anyone else to do his rehab,” Bright said. “He’s probably one of the hardest-working guys on the team; he’s always that person that’s going to do that little extra.”

Bright also said he and Keele push each further when working out. Keele is also careful to put in the necessary time to study offensive line coach Jeff Grimes’ plays, Bright said.

Despite the importance place football has in Keele’s life, he recognizes the other important aspects of his life. Keele’s beliefs and support system have been paramount to his ability to cope with the injury. Faith and family fuel him. He even found a silver lining to his injury: more time for church responsibilities. Hours after arriving home from the Boston College game, some of Keele’s ecclesiastical leaders called him to be a counselor in his elders’ quorum.

“Things happen for a reason, and I’m trying really hard to do what I’m supposed to,” Keele said. “Tearing my ACL is not the end of my world. I can keep working and hopefully fulfill my church callings. I’ll do better at school and be a better husband, hopefully, and focus on things that matter even more [than football].”

Jennie Keele, who is a starter on BYU’s basketball team, praised her husband for how he has handled adversity and maintained his priorities.

“He’s always been positive and he looks for the best in everything,” Keele said.

Eddie Keele returned the compliment, saying his wife helps him stay optimistic and confident.

“She always tells me how good I am,” Keele said. “It helps me feel tough.”

Working through hard times usually leads to some kind of good result, Keele said. He has seen others deal with difficulty. For example, the father of one of Keele’s friends and teammates passed away recently. While Keele has had his own set of hardships, he said they are nothing compared to what his teammate goes through.

The injury may open up avenues for Keele to achieve other dreams, such as coaching, teaching and working in the field of pharmaceuticals. If he is unable to make a living from football, he would prefer to work in pharmaceuticals because, as he said with some embarrassment for fear of sounding selfish, he’ll need the money. If he is already financially established, Keele would prefer to coach and teach at a high school.

It’s no surprise Keele would want to work at a social job. The smile on his face while he teaches P.E. and Health at Timpview High School (Provo, Utah) for his internship shows Keele loves to be around people, Bright said.

At Bright’s first college game, Keele was the first person to calm his nerves.

“He said the right things,” Bright said. “He told me to treat it like it was just another practice.”

Whether Keele is lending a comforting word to a teammate, or cracking jokes at offensive line meetings, Bright said Keele gives the team a calm assurance.

“[With Keele], you get the feeling everything’s going to work out,” Bright said. “He’s going to do his job…and the team feeds off that confidence.”

It’s that same confidence that lets Keele know – happen whatever may – everything is going to work out fine.