Word To The Wise: A Journalistic Perspective

As a telecommunications student at the University of Florida, I’m allowed access to one of the most state-of-the-art college newsrooms in the country.

After completing a $3-million renovation a year and a half ago, the Center for Media Innovation and Research now allows students to broadcast stories across ALL mediums from within a single space.  This breakthrough in technology within the college is designed to best represent what is happening out in the real world – all of the mediums (print, TV, radio, web) are blending together.

Because of the improvements made to the news facilities, students (like me) benefit by being exposed to everything.  I can use the skills I acquire while doing radio to make better pieces for TV.  Additionally, I’m able to write a web script for stories I complete so they can be added to the web.

During the 2013 college football season I routinely covered Florida Gator games for ESPN Radio 850/900, a local radio station.  After the games I’d produce a two-minute video wrap-up for them using my television skills, and upload that video to the web.  Just another example of convergence in the media.  One of those videos is posted below, and it would be posted to the web here.

 

 

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Have The Buccaneers Reached Their “Tipping Point”?

When Malcolm Gladwell authored The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference, he was referring to a phenomenon that happens when trends spark up and take hold.

At a certain point, he believed, major changes occurred when things reached a “tipping point.”  Or a place where a little difference had a big effect.  If you’ve heard of the expression “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” it represents a tipping point.

Many Buccaneer fans are wondering if the team has hit its tipping point – finally – after painfully rebuilding for the past five years.  According to Gladwell, an epidemic (in this case a winning team) can be reached if the thing being introduced meets three criteria:

First, it must be operating in a context that nurtures it.  Even though sellouts at Raymond James Stadium have been harder to come by since the rebuild started, fans have shown they’re among the best in the league at supporting the team when the product on the field is good.  The community is ready to support a winning NFL franchise again. Nurturing environment, check.

Second, the Bucs must be “sticky” enough to retain their parts.  Via free agency, contract extensions and the draft, Tampa Bay’s front office is putting together the pieces on the team it likes.  Players are signing long-term deals, meant to cultivate the culture in the locker room from year to year.  No players remain on the roster from when the franchise started rebuilding in 2009.  The locker room contains an entirely new group of  guys, who will play together (and create their own culture) over the next several years.

And finally, the epidemic must be widely disseminated.  The Buccaneers have been in the national headlines A LOT over the past year.  From a quarterback controversy to MRSA infections, to coaching changes and free agent decisions people around the country know about the Bucs.  Its up to the team to do something with its platform.

Gladwell’s model is simple and powerful – much unlike Tampa Bay’s football seasons the past couple of years.  Four offensive coordinators, three head coaches, and four losing seasons dot the “i’s” on Tampa Bay’s rebuilding efforts.

But they might finally be at their tipping point.

With Tampa Bay’s free agent acquisitions this offseason courtesy of new general manager Jason Licht, the little changes are positioned to pay off in big ways.  This season could be the moment when a domino effect is triggered and a dynasty is born.

While Gladwell was talking about marketing, and his exact words may have been more along the lines of “an epidemic of demand sweeps through the population like a virulent virus,”  his principle remains true.

If Tampa Bay can get over the hump of under-achieving this season, the losing atmosphere surrounding the team will change.  Fans will come to expect greatness from the team, and they’ll expect it from themselves.  Every season afterwards will be easier.

If Tampa Bay can just reach its tipping point.

Buccaneers Get Only “A” Offseason Grade From NFL Experts

In what is surely the kiss of death for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, yesterday a panel of NFL “experts” on ESPN gave Tampa Bay’s front office the only “A” when grading NFL teams’s offseason performances so far.

Even other teams such as the Cardinals, Patriots, and Broncos – which have all had busy offseason – failed to garner the highest mark.

So as a prelude to the eventual collapse of the franchise . . . maybe you should pick up another hobby besides watching football.

Maybe you’re interested in learning how to party responsibly.  In that case, give Dana Winter’s blog a read.

Oh you like to read? Stephanie Matarazzo could probably recommend a good book or two.

Or maybe, you should visit my colleague Trevor Sikkema’s blog, and watch the video so you can teach me about team loyalty.

Missing Football?

If you’re like me, there’s something about football’s offseason that feels a bit . . . incomplete (pun intended).  But the good news for Bucs fans is that most of them only live two hours away from the top-ranked men’s college basketball team in the country.  You can read all about them on my good friend Benjamin Bornstein’s blog.

Not a basketball fan? How about taking a look at what Olympic swimmer Elizabeth Beisel is up to.

Or if that’s not your style, check out Charlene Ochogo’s blog.  It has nothing to do with sports, she’s just that good.

Who Is Adam Pages? Plus, An Update On Tampa Bay’s WR Search

I’m a sports anchor and multimedia journalist who is also proud Gator.  I’m originally from the Tampa Bay area and I fell in love with sports at an early age.

I have a passion for telling stories, meeting new people and traveling.  For me, the best part about this job is getting to do a little bit of all three.

Earlier this offseason, I wrote about the Buccaneer’s need to add depth at the WR position.  As pro days continue at college campus’s around the country, teams are in the midst of identifying which players they want to target in the draft.

On Monday, three scouts from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent a long time talking to University of Florida wide receiver Solomon Patton at the Gators’ pro day.  Despite Florida’s 4-8 season, Patton was one of the few bright spots for the Orange and Blue.  He led the team in all-purpose yards and was recently named Senior Bowl MVP.

If first-year general manager Jason Licht elects to address another one of Tampa Bay’s needs with their first round pick, Patton could be someone the Bucs target in later rounds. Or, potentially, after the draft as an unsigned free agent.  Patton is currently projected as a sixth or seventh round pick.

Don’t Make Me Think – Review and Reflection

Steve Krug’s book Don’t Make Me Think takes a look at website usability and simplicity.  The point he hammers home throughout the book is how important it is for web designers to produce a clean and simple product for users to navigate.

According to Krug, “A good visual hierarchy saves us work by preprocessing the page for us, organizing and prioritizing its contents in a way that we can grasp almost instantly.”

In theory, the idea of constructing a simple web page seems… well, rather simple.  But, when trying to create and launch your own website, you may overshoot and certain features of the site could become too complicated to use.

Knowing a few main features that a majority of users will want to use on the site helps streamline the process.  In a day and age of mobile and tablet apps, placing features into a hierarchy of importance becomes increasingly critical.  After all, when using one of these devices rather than a traditional desktop computer, less information can be displayed to the user at any given time (due to the size restraints imposed by the screen).

Once you identify which features you want your website to highlight, the next part becomes arranging them in a useful way on your website.  The main goal for this stage should be all about usability.  Put the most used features at the top of the webpage and make them easy for users to access.  The easier it is for users to navigate around your webpage, the more likely they’ll be to return to your site in the future.

In his book, Krug calls the distractions he finds on websites “noise.”  According to him, there are three types of noise: shouting, disorganization, and clutter.

Shouting occurs when you fail to decide which features of the website you will highlight for users.  According to Krug, “The truth is, everything can’t be important. Shouting is usually the result of a failure to make tough decisions about which elements are the most important and create a visual hierarchy that guides users to them first.”  In order to keep shouting to a minimum, its important to remember that often times “less is more.”

Websites are disorganized when its most used features are hidden deep down on the webpage.  Krug wants you to make a visual hierarchy for your website, meaning the most important things for the user should be located at the top of the webpage and be easy for people to find and use.

The idea of clutter jumps on the heels of both shouting and disorganization.  When a webpage has too much going on, it can be intimidating for users.  Online, but especially with mobile apps, it is important to structure words and sentences into easily digestible paragraphs.  “Keep paragraphs short. Long paragraphs confront the reader with what Caroline Jarrett and Ginny Redish call a ‘wall of words.’ They’re daunting, they make it harder for readers to keep their place, and they’re harder to scan than a series of shorter paragraphs.”

In my opinion, I think Krug is spot-on with his ideas about webpages.  They should be simple so even the most technologically-inept user can navigate the site, while also being a positive reflection of the company.  Thinking of real life examples for his ideas wasn’t difficult because his observations are being put to use by many of the top websites that people use every day (Google, ESPN.com, etc.).

Buccaneers Need Depth At Receiver

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If Tampa Bay wants to roll with their second-year quarterback Mike Glennon as the starter next year, they’re going to need to put some weapons around him. Too many times last year was Glennon forced to throw into double coverage because none of his receivers could get open.

Next year his top receiver will be 31. Vincent Jackson is a speedy receiver who has the capacity to make big plays, and it’s very possible that he could return to Pro Bowl form as a slot receiver in today’s NFL. Last season as Tampa Bay’s only real outside threat, Jackson would constantly face double teams designed to take away his speed.

Now that Mike Williams is healthy, Tampa Bay will have two top wideouts for their quarterback to throw to. But that’s not enough.

In order to permanently move Vincent Jackson to slot receiver, Tampa Bay needs to acquire a wideout with some size. And there are two ways of going about that:

First, they could draft one. This seems like the most likely scenario, and being that the Buccaneers are picking seventh, they’re in the perfect position to be the first team to take a wide receiver off the board. Meaning they’ll have their pick of the litter. Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Marquise Lee. Take your pick.

Or, they could sign one in free agency. This would allow the Bucaneers to use their seventh pick to fill a need at another position (read: quarterback). Not totally unlikely either considering that the Glazer family opened up their checkbooks last season to sign Carl Nicks and Darrelle Revis.  Notable free agent wideouts: Hakeem Nicks, Anquan Boldin.

Don’t Sleep On The Bucs In 2014-2015

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Even though we are still six days away from the official start of the offseason, Tampa Bay appears to be making the right moves so far during the process.

For a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since their Super Bowl victory in 2002 (that’s over a decade if you’re scoring at home), Buccaneer fans can finally enter an offseason with some warranted optimism.

Pro Football Talk rated team captain Gerald McCoy as the best pass rushing defensive tackle in football this season, and franchise corner Darrelle Revis rated at the top of his position as well.

The Buccaneers pick seventh overall in May’s draft, nearly guaranteeing that they’ll be able to draft a player who can start immediately.

For a team that used to have holes at several positions on both sides of the ball, the roster is quickly filling out in Tampa Bay.

That’s why they’re very likely to rebound in a big way next season.