Friday, September 22, 2017

Journalism 101 -- We are NOT the story

I'm a journalism guy, but I firmly believe we should go out of our way to not be the story. It was pounded into me in j-school, it was pounded into me by my first editor at a small but really good Mississippi daily newspaper. I still believe it, I still preach it. Yes, there are exceptions, but our audience wants to know about the story, not about us. Plus it makes us look like snowflakes.

So we have this Atlanta TV station story about the bonding out of three students who protested the Georgia Tech police shooting of a troubled student. Watch the video yourself. I don't think the hed on the web site seen to the left about protester curses the media is really the story here. It's a basic making bail story, the kind we do all the time, but him tossing a few expletives in a journalist's direction is hardly news. Jeez, if I made a story about every time I'd been cursed at as a reporter I'd never have time for real news.

Watch the story, decide for yourself if this is the hed that really deserves to be on there. I suppose it is clickbaity because, face it, we all love seeing those damn journalists getting cursed at. But I'm not a clickbaity guy.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Strange Alabama. Tell me Moore

As political junkies know, there's a fascinating U.S. Senate race going on next door in Alabama between Roy "Ten Commandments Everywhere" Moore and Luther "Trump Likes Me Best" Moore. The election itself is Sept. 26, but there's been a spate of polls showing either Moore winning big or the race a statistical tie. No polls seem to show Strange ahead. This bodes well for Moore and, of course, poorly for Strange.

A poll out today suggests the race is tightening. Here's the opening grafs. Keep in mind that tightening in this case still has Moore thumping Strange.
U.S. Sen. Luther Strange has made significant cuts into Roy Moore's lead in a Republican primary runoff poll but still has a lot of ground to make up over the next eight days. 
In a poll released Monday by Louisiana-based JMC Analytics and Polling, Alabama's former chief justice holds an eight-point lead over Strange. 
The same polling firm last month had Moore with a 19-point lead.
It's helpful when the same firm, using the same method, shows change. It's more difficult to compare across polls, especially when they use very different sampling or weighting methods, and that assumes they report any of these details at all.

A few days earlier a different poll essentially said it's too close to call. Keep in mind this particular poll has ties to those supporting Strange, but I'm certain it's a mere coincidence they call it a tie.

A summary of polls by Real Clear Politics paints a pretty picture for Moore.

President Donald Trump and the GOP establishment have all endorsed Strange, as Moore infamous for his on-again, off-again career on the state supreme court. In this case, Trump's endorsement doesn't seem to matter.

Maybe it will tighten some before the election. That's what usually happens in most races as undecideds, well, decide. Those may break more for Strange but it's hard to imagine enough of them remain out there to change the outcome.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

More First Names

I wrote yesterday about the incoming UGA freshman class and the most popular first names. This is Part II in which I provide the data of the top five names since 2008. See the table below. A few years have ties for a spot.


08
09
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
1
Sarah
Sarah
Emily
Emily
Sarah
Emily
Emily
Emily
& John
William
William
2
Emily
William
Elizabeth
John
Emily
Sarah
Sarah

Emily
Sarah
3
Lauren
Emily
Michael
Sarah
John
John
John
Hannah
Sarah
Madison
4
William
Elizabeth
Taylor
Andrew
William
Anna
William
William
Caroline
Emily
5
Michael
John
William
Michael
Rachel
Hannah
Rachel
Anna &
Caroline
John
Caroline



As you can see, for a long time Emily and Sarah dominated and even in 2017 they're in the top five, but William stepped up. Why is that? Good question, as UGA tends to have more female than male students. Keep in mind the differences in raw numbers are slight. See below for the top five in 2017 and the numbers of students who share that first name.
  1. William (67)
  2. Sarah (64)
  3. Madison (59)
  4. Emily (57)
  5. Caroline (56)
Think about those numbers above, as they're out of 5,482 or so freshman in this year's class. So all it takes is a statistical quirk of a few more students who share a name to bump it up the list. You really can't make too much out of this, though that doesn't stop me from trying every year, just for fun.












Most Popular First Names

Every year since 2008 I've collected the first names of UGA's freshman class and have then written about it. Why? I have too much time on my hands, that's one. Two, it's a fun exercise to show students, to demonstrate you can find story ideas in odd places.

Well, it's time for the 2017 update.

First, a bit of history. Since 2008, the most popular UGA freshman name has been either Sarah or Emily, but in 2016 we saw a shift to a new leader -- William. And William is also the most popular freshman name in 2017, at least at UGA, at least among freshmen. Here's a quick wordcloud of the 2017 names:


Here are the Top 10 for 2017, with the 2008 rank in parentheses

1. William (3)
2. Sarah (1)
3.  Madison (235, wow)
4. Emily (2)
5. Caroline (23)
6. Hannah (27)
7. (tie) John (15) and Anna (33)
10. (tie) Matthew (6) Jacob (39) and Andrew (21)

The big move up is obvious -- Madison. Ranked only #235 in 2008, now it's #3. That said, you have to keep in mind the actual numbers here are relatively small between names. Number 1 in 2017 was William, with 67 of them. Sarah had 64, Madison 59. Back in 2008, there were only three named Madison, so that's something. 

To really have fun with this, I'd need to dip into the Social Security baby name data for the year these students were likely born, see if there was a burst nationally or even in Georgia of kids named Madison compared to earlier years. I can say, based on a cursory look, William was the most popular boy name in Georgia in 1999, roughly when these students were born, and Madison was the 4th most popular name. If we go back 10 years, Madison is the #1 Georgia girl's name, so I can't really explain the boomlet in Madison at UGA. It will take some more data digging.







UGA vs Notre Dame

The Dawgs play the Irish this Saturday. Notre Dame is a hair under a touchdown favorite, last I looked. So how else do the schools match up? We'll hear or read sportspouters saying this is a clash of traditions and so on, but is it really?

Movies Made About the Football Team

Notre Dame: 2
UGA: 0

(if you don't tear up at the end of Rudy, check yourself for a pulse)
-----

National Football Championships (shared or solo)

Notre Dame: 11 (consensus, 8 more some mention)
UGA:  5 (claimed, consensus? Not sure)

It gets messy, those earlier "championships"
-----

USNWR Rankings National Universities

Notre Dame is #15
UGA is #56
-----

Admissions Selectivity

Notre Dame: most selective
UGA: more selective (most is higher than more)
-----

Student to Faculty Ratio

Notre Dame 10:1
UGA 18:1
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Best Mascot

Notre Dame:  Creepy green guy, not even close
UGA:  Damn good dog, yes by a landslide
------

Tuition and Fees (by one site)

Notre Dame:  $49,685
UGA:  $11,634 (in state)
-----

Student Brainpower (this site)

Notre Dame, tied for #11
UGA, tied for #153 (let that sink in a bit)
-----

Weather

Notre Dame: It's in Indiana. Lose
UGA: It's not in Indiana. Win
-----

Religion

Notre Dame: Catholic (win)
UGA (not, so lose)

(Yeah, I'm Catholic. It's my blog, so pffffft.)
-----







Georgia's "Red"

What's Georgia's colors?

Red and Black, you'd immediately answer, probably with a sneer or at least a rolling of the eyes at a journalism professor incapable of remembering such a basic school factoid or at least the name of the student newspaper. But you see, there's red, and then there's red. According to one site that compiles all the school colors from around the country, UGA's red is technically #DA291C (if you're fluent in the good old hex color chart). That's fine except the UGA marketing folks insist on this official page that it's #BA0C2F. The UGA version of the code is a tad darker and richer than the one offered by the site that compiles all team colors. Below I provide them again on bold face to emphasize the differences.

UGA's RED | Online Site's UGA RED

So you can see, in some browsers, it's kinda obvious. Oh, and Alabama's "crimson" is slightly different at #990000, which is actually quite a generic red. I thought they'd tweak it a bit, but apparently not.

Just think of the fun we can have distinguishing among the various oranges of Auburn, Tennessee, etc. OK, it's not that much fun, about as much fun as watching Fun with Flags, so I'm not gonna do it.


















Thursday, August 24, 2017

Me vs Google

For years I've pestered Google about a problem with its map, mainly because I have far too much time on my hands, but also because I live on the street that Google Maps refuses to correctly name.

So below, here's how Google Maps shows the intersection of Whit Davis Road and Pettit Lane on Athens scenic eastside. You see Google insists it's Pettits Lane (you may have to click on the image to see it well).



Google can't be wrong, right? Of course not, unless of course you use street view on Google Maps and see the following with the street sign, via street view, spelling the name correctly.


Still using Google Maps, here's another bit of evidence below. The lake is spelled correctly on Google Maps, but the street is not. So Pettits Lane leads to Pettit Lake.



Why do I care? I live on Greenbrier Way, the first left after you get onto PETTIT LANE. So multiple times a day I see the correct street spelling and every time I'm home and load Google Maps I see the incorrect street spelling, and this kind of stuff drives me batty.

So, maybe the street sign is wrong?

If you look at the Athens-Clarke County online property rolls, it's clearly Pettit Lane. See below.




There is no Pettits Lane. Except, as far as Zillow is concerned, it's PETTITS LANE. So let's look up that first address listed above via the black magic of Zillow.


So in some databases it's Pettits, but as far as the city-county is concerned, it's Pettit. So let's try one more test and use something I rarely use, Bing Maps.

Turns out, Bing > Google



What's this all mean? That maybe I need something better to do with my time, and yes I've used Google Map's report feature to ask them to fix the street name, but nothing. Nada. I figured by including the Bing Map it may embarrass them enough to do something about it.