Monday, February 28, 2011

Welcome Home Party!

First off, I'm just going to spill all my thoughts from the BYU vs. San Diego State game last Saturday.

- I thought the game was going to be a lot more nerve wracking. But after we got ahead 4-2 in the first minutes of the game, we never lost the lead. And the lead never got less than three. Other than the last 3-5 minutes of the first half, BYU was in total control.

- I was also very impressed to see so many on the BYU team do so awesome. Hartsock and Abouo weren't too far behind Fredette on the threes, and in fact each missed only one.

- Emery is so much fun to watch, like a spastic kid almost. Colorado State coach Tim Miles said it best: "Watching replay of Rams/ BYU. Watching JEmery chase down a loose ball is like watching a cheetah chase down a gazelle in the wild" (on Twitter). It was especially fun to watch him tip away a pass, then run down court while Fredette handled the ball and threw it down to him. Just amazing.

- The San Diego State student section, "The Show," made the victory especially sweet. Wearing missionary outfits and bike helmets don't offend me, but the fact that they're trying to offend me does offend me. So it was nice to shut them up. (And one thought that crossed my mind - people watching the game on CBS who don't know much about BYU or the LDS Church or missionaries probably looked at the student section, and was like, "Shirts and ties? Bike helmets? Uh, okay, I guess? Whatever, San Diego State." Joke's on you, Aztecs!)

The Daily Universe had a couple stories on the game, from our reporter Steve McCall who traveled to San Diego:

Cougars use team efforts to down Aztecs

BYU faced wild atmosphere in Cougar-Aztec encounter*

We also had a DU photographer there, Luke Hansen. He put up all his photos on his blog (Warning: he promised photos of "The Show's" signs, some of which are not G-rated):

BYU at San Diego State


Here's where I get involved.

I got a tweet saying a group was gathering at the Provo Municipal Airport to welcome home the team. I had never been to something like that, and I was excited for this chance. Just so one day I could say I had been there. Then, as an afterthought, I realized I should do a story on it for the paper.

What's cool is that the story ended up in The Daily Universe and on the Deseret News website!

Fans greet Cougars at Provo airport (Daily Universe)

Fans greet BYU team at airport (Deseret News)

I actually had some audio and video that went with the story. It's supposed to be on the Daily Universe website, but I can't find it anywhere. And it looks like I can't add audio to Blogspot. But here are the YouTube videos (thanks, Don MacArthur, for sending them!):

Oh, I found the audio! Go here: Welcome party greets BYU basketball

*Go to page 7.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ghosts of Totalitarian Regimes Past

Oh, I almost forgot to post this cartoon I had in The Daily Universe on Thursday:

I was worried that this cartoon was a little confusing, because it sort of implements and combines a bunch of random ideas. I'll explain my thought process:

1) With all the uprisings in the Middle East, from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya and beyond, I imagined all the revolutions with a dam breaking. The dam would also be a map of the Middle East/North Africa. (At first I was going to draw the borders like cracks in a concrete wall, but I decided to just make it a map. That was easier.)
2) Now, who would try to hold back the dam? Some Middle East leader.
3) I wanted to think of how to draw some generic Middle East dictator, but what would he look like exactly? Then I thought I could draw Saddam Hussein to represent Middle East bad guys in general.
4) Well, since Saddam is dead, I came up with the idea of "Ghost of _____ Past," and to draw Saddam as a ghost.

So, I've got maps and dams and ghosts and Saddam Hussein all put together in a cartoon. What do you think? Was it a stretch? Or does it make sense?

Well, doesn't matter, because it ran in the paper on Thursday whether or not it's comprehensible, haha.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Change in Plans

Remember the amazing internship I got with Newsweek magazine?

My family and I were excited to have such a special opportunity to live in New York this summer, and for me to work with a national magazine. Things could not get much better for starting out my career, and we were looking forward to a great adventure as a little family in the Big Apple.

Well, a couple weeks ago that internship came into doubt. With the merger of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, we at the BYU end of things weren't sure what would happen. After trying multiple times to contact people with Newsweek and The Daily Beast, it was confirmed yesterday that there is no longer a place for me at Newsweek. The Daily Beast already has its own interns coming, and won't be needing any more. The special access BYU has with Newsweek seems to no longer exist.

Cue the quandary.

We're still going to New York. We've already begun the paperwork and the payments, and besides, why would anyone pass up on New York?

And Professor Campbell was able to find some extra internship opportunities in New York, so I am guaranteed a place at either The Brooklyn Paper or The Riverdale Press. Both are very localized weekly newspapers, specifically for Brooklyn and the Bronx. So, even though I've never heard of them, it's still journalism work in New York City! And I might get to do sports, which I wouldn't do much of at Newsweek, I imagine. The Brooklyn Paper offers "the world's best Cyclones coverage," meaning the Brooklyn Cyclones, a Class A Minor League Baseball team. That might be fun to be involved with. (It would be like last summer when I went to a bunch of Orem Owlz games, only I'd get to write about them.)

But since yesterday afternoon I have been welling up with a lot of emotions, none of them very positive. I feel like I was duped once again. Just another on a long list of missed opportunities:

- Last year, I thought I was going to get to go to New York for a journalism student convention. But I got the invitation before the trip was actually approved by the department, and so I jumped the gun a little bit and got my hopes up for a weekend in New York.

- Around the same time, I was asked by Rich and the sports editors to represent The Daily Universe at the NCAA Tournament regional games in Salt Lake City. BYU didn't make it that far, but they were going to send me anyway just to cover the games and get that experience. Which would have been amazing. But alas, the NCAA pulled a reverse and decided college newspapers were not eligible for media credentials. Then, we were going to try and borrow media credentials from The Daily Herald in Provo, because they likely weren't going to use them unless BYU was in those games. But they decided to use them anyway (or at least not give them to The Daily Universe, who knows what they actually did with them).

- This past football season, The Daily Universe sold enough ad space for a special football section every Monday after a football game. With the extra ad money, we had the chance to send at least a couple of people to every away football game. My co-editor "Sparky" went to the Florida State game in Tallahassee, then the TCU game in Fort Worth, Texas was going to be my turn. But then, when it got closer to the TCU game, somehow plans were changed because the broadcast program had connections that could make things cheaper. As far as I can tell, because one of the broadcast kids had family in Texas and everyone could stay there for free, the department gave the trip to them instead of to The Daily Universe - you know, to the side of the department that actually earned that ad money in the first place.

Even now, I'm signed up to go to the MWC Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas, but I won't really believe I'm going until I'm sitting in the BYU rental van driving down I-15 toward Nevada. I've been trained by now to never get my hopes up.

But I thought this Newsweek internship would be immune to this trend of disappointment. I needed this internship to graduate from BYU with a degree in communications, so I didn't think it would be messed with. (An internship with The Brooklyn Paper, The Riverdale Press or somewhere else would still count for the graduation requirement.) This was a sure thing. After all, I got the internship. It wasn't that I merely hoped for something that didn't happen. I earned this, and it was taken away. Even this, the pinnacle of my BYU education and of my journalism career so far, turned into a letdown too.

To be fair, in many ways these circumstances were out of my control and out of the BYU Communications Department's control. And I haven't always been left out. I did get to travel to BYU football games in Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, Colorado. And I've also been able to talk face-to-face with Bronco Mendenhall, Harvey Unga, Jake Heaps and other football players, Dave Rose, Jimmer Fredette, Jackson Emery, LaVell Edwards, David Nixon, Mark Lyons, Mike Scioscia and many other amazing people.

I'm just bummed right now.

But I need to have an attitude that this happened for a reason. I have to think that this will work out somehow. One day, I'll probably look back on all this and I won't be able to imagine doing anything but The Brooklyn Paper, Riverdale Press or wherever. Looking back, this will all make sense. This will be right. At least, that's what I have to think. That's what I have to tell myself.

What's ironic is that the day I got the bad news was also the day Erin and I were praying and fasting that I would keep my Newsweek internship. Professor Campbell literally gave me the news while my stomach was a-grumblin'. I got the opposite of what I was asking for.

But maybe that means that this is what is supposed to happen. I don't know exactly how the Lord works. But maybe the opposite of the answer I want is still an answer.

At any rate, I have to make the best of it. It's the only way to get through life.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Right-Wing Craziness Through Artistic Expression? "McNaughton" My Watch!

My family and I were enjoying our President's Day together with a quick stroll through Provo Towne Center, when a small corner gallery beckoned me in with a humongous painting right in the doorway, with Jesus Christ in the center and a crowd surrounding Him. It reminded me of a painting an old roommate of mine had in the bedroom (my roommate was in the military and had spent time in Afghanistan):

I think I liked this painting when my roommate hung it up. It's sort of interesting to think of war and spirituality. I don't have any personal connection to the concept, because I have never been in the military and don't have many close relatives who did. But I do know from the scriptures and even modern history, sometimes there is a righteous purpose in war and I do believe the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost can be with a soldier, even on the battlefield. (As it turns out, I learned that the title of this painting is "Peace Is Coming." So maybe this painting is more about the second coming of Christ and the end of wars and contentions anyway.)

Anyway, I was right to be reminded of this painting when I entered the gallery in the mall, because the painting at the entrance and "Peace Is Coming" were done by the same artist. But the one I first saw in the mall was quite different:

Again, it's Christ surrounded by people representing moments in history. But this one is much more controversial and upset me a little.

This one is called "One Nation Under God." It depicts Christ holding up the Constitution as written by our nation's Founding Fathers, backed up by a host of American heroes. In the foreground, one side shows people who are in awe of the Constitution and venerate it, while the other side is a group who are ashamed of how they have violated or abused the Constitution. The ashamed group sits by papers on the ground representing Supreme Court decisions like Roe v. Wade.

This is quite a statement, to say that Supreme Court judges and politicians have violated the Constitution. Or to say that the pregnant woman, who I assumed represents women who want abortions because she's "at the left hand of God" in the painting, is violating the Constitution. (It turns out, if you go to the official description of the painting, that the woman "is saying to herself, 'I want to keep my baby.' She represents hope." Oh, okay. But why is she on the same side of the painting as the Constitution-haters? I think it's easy for anyone to misinterpret that, like I did.)

And, check this out:

Look who's at the "left hand of God"! A reporter! Like me! Thanks a lot, Jon McNaughton. (Maybe he just means TV reporters specifically ... haha, just kidding broadcast journalism students.)

So while this controversial painting irked me, I browsed through the gallery some more and saw one that was just appalling, "The Forgotten Man":

Really, Jon McNaughton? Really? I couldn't believe this. President Obama literally stepping on the Constitution? While most of his predecessors frown disapprovingly (and James Madison's heart breaks)? C'mon, man.

President Obama has done things I disagree with. But I wouldn't say he's trampling on the Constitution (at least not any more than President Bush or President Reagan did - you can find rhetoric that goes either direction on accusing presidents of going against their oath of office, left or right).

And, the "forgotten man" sitting on the park bench? If he's supposed to represent someone who's down-and-out on his luck, wouldn't the "nanny state" agenda of a liberal president like Obama be just what he's looking for?

Mostly what I couldn't get over was the fact that all of this was in a painting. An editorial cartoon, sure. But a painting? A framed painting on a wall has a way of immortalizing ideas, humanity and life, and somehow makes everything "official." But in no way should the ideas conveyed in either of these paintings be considered official. Unless you consider being simplistic, vilifying and closed-minded to be official.

Could you imagine visiting someone for dinner who has either of these huge paintings in their living room? I'm sorry, but even if we managed to keep the political conversation at a minimum, I would just be distracted the whole visit by this painting and what it's trying to say to me. Especially if it's trying to tell me I hate the Constitution because I'm a member of the press.

After I came home and visited Jon McNaughton's website, I calmed down a little after reading his explanations. I learned about the pregnant woman in "One Nation, Under God" and that she wasn't an abortion-wanting Constitution hater (although I think it makes sense why I was led to believe that), like I said earlier. And I learned that he grouped the presidents in "The Forgotten Man" based on who increased the federal debt the most, and he was able to leave out any Republican or Democratic bias by putting George W. Bush on the debt-increasing side and John F. Kennedy on the fiscal conservative side. And "the forgotten man" is anyone who has to endure the exponentially-increasing national debt, not necessarily a poor man in need of government benefits (like these guys).

(One explanation, for "One Nation Under God," actually renewed the fire in my belly. On the side of Constitution worshipers, there is someone labeled an "Immigrant": "Why does he have his hand up like that? There are many good people in America, they are not all Christian. I wanted him to have a look of shock when he realizes where the source of America's greatness comes from as he sees Christ holding the Constitution. We live in a country where we are free to worship as we please." Sounds inclusive at the beginning and end, but did you catch that condescending and xenophobic part in the middle?)

As far as the actual artistic skills go, Jon McNaughton is great. And he has a lot of paintings based on scripture and Christ's life, and I admire those.

But combining religion and politics is a touchy fine line. And expressing that combination through artistic expression is liable to provoke many a rant.

If you want to go to his website and check this stuff out for yourself, go here:

McNaughton Fine Art

On the three paintings that I mentioned, you can get an explanation of all the figures and symbols by holding your mouse over each one, which is kind of cool:

Peace Is Coming
One Nation, Under God
The Forgotten Man

Or read an explanation for each one:

Peace Is Coming
One Nation, Under God
The Forgotten Man

McNaughton also has a link on his website to this article, calling him "the official artist of the Tea Party." He must be pretty proud of that.

Tea Party Agitprop

(I should mention that all of these images were screen clippings taken from Jon McNaughton's website. I do not intend to break copyright laws by posting them here, just to utilize them for commentary and educational purposes.)

In the Deseret News once again!

My BYU athletics budget story (parts one and two) was in the Deseret News and on!

In the Des News:

BYU sports budget rundown shows what sports profit, cost
(part one)
BYU's sports budget not seeing red ink financing smaller sports (part two)


Football key to BYU's athletic budget (part one)
BYU football brings athletic budget back to black in tough economy (part two)

I still don't know for sure if the story has appeared in the print edition of the Deseret News. I know it wasn't in Friday's paper, at least. But I'll have to get my hands on some copies as soon as it does.

I've gotten a few e-mails from readers, most of them saying: "Well, yeah, duh, but tell us about Title IX!" The Title IX aspect of university budgets is interesting, for sure. I just picked something else to talk about this time around.

If any of you want to do your own Title IX-themed investigation, or any investigation into athletics budget numbers, here's how:

1) Go to
2) Click on "Go to login page"
3) Then click on "Get data for one institution"
4) Then search for Brigham Young University (or any other college you're interested in looking at)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cougar sports by the numbers

My story on the BYU athletics budget (the one I mentioned a while ago) made its grand debut today!

Cougar sports by the numbers

Brandon Judd at the copy desk had a cool way to turn my graphs into cool art to go on the front page. Here's a close-up of that:

Here are the other graphs I made myself (which were basically kept as is in the paper):

Look for part two tomorrow!


Update (02/17/2011):

The second part of my BYU Athletics budget story came out today.

Budget healthy as Cougs set to enter WCC

And, once again, the front page looks great:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Jimmermania! continued

For all of you dying to read that story I was hinting about, here it is:

No 'idle' worship with Jimmer

Kristian Ekenes did a great job with this. He had a lot of initiative, which you need if you want to get anywhere in this business. He talked to the Jimmer, the Michelle Peralta, Charles Abouo, and some guy who I think should be the next Michelle Peralta. Emilio Urriola, who is quoted in the article, was getting me all worked up just when I was editing the story with Kristian! He said he likes basketball, but he doesn't like the players. How does that even make sense?!

Anyway, this Jimmer worship debate isn't ending anytime soon. Which is great for me and The Daily Universe, haha.

We also got our own story on Jerry Sloan, long time head coach of the Utah Jazz, resigning.

Jazz coach Sloan resigns

When Rich Evans came into the newsroom at around 1 p.m., he said we needed to find someone who could go to Salt Lake for the 3 p.m. press conference. Lucky for us, our man Chuck Krebs happened to be there and was willing to go. He had never been to something major like this, and he was pretty nervous. But he jumped in with both feet. He had a lot of questions, but he also had to learn a lot on his own. And he did great.

Cougars missing Kaufusi

It's not often that sad news comes across the sports desk.

This Tuesday, a press release came from BYU women's basketball to let everyone know that Alexis Kaufusi, a sophomore on the team, had been diagnosed with cancer and would be sitting out the rest of the season.

I was already planning on covering the Wednesday game against Air Force, to give a little extra help to our women's basketball beat reporters. Anyone paying attention to our women's basketball coverage at The Daily Universe would know we often don't get Wednesday game stories until Friday's paper, so we made some changes in assignments to try and prevent that from happening. Part of that move was that I took a turn covering a women's basketball game.

But after Kaufusi's announcement, this story assignment had new meaning. And it turned into a great story. Sad news, but great story.

Cougars missing Kaufusi

Norma Collett, the SID for women's basketball, said I did a nice job on it. And Rich Evans, my boss at the paper, said he really liked it too. He said as he read it, he thought to himself, "This looks like a professional story." I am grateful for the compliments and glad I got a chance to do this story.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


So, any of you who are college basketball fans, BYU fans, or human beings in general, you already know about the latest wave of Jimmermania this week.

I can't put up many links on the blog here, because The Daily Universe website is down, we're guessing because it got Jimmered. No joke. But I'll give you a sequence of events:

1) On Tuesday's opinion page in The Daily Universe, a letter was published entitled "Idol worship." I can't link to it since the website is down, but here's the copied-and-pasted text:

I can't walk across campus without hearing Jimmer Fredette's name a dozen times. His name comes up everywhere: in class, at work, during lunch. Really, people? Cut it out with the Jimmer worship. Last time I checked, idol worship was very much frowned upon in the scriptures. Don't you have a life to live? Then quit wasting it in front of the TV or in lines at the Marriott Center. At the very least, stop trying to convert those of us who don't follow BYU sports and don't care that baseball and badminton are two different things. Pushing basketball on us isn't going to make us like it any better. I'm not blaming Jimmer for all this; was it Nephi's fault in the Book of Mormon when his brothers worshiped him? As far as I'm concerned, Jimmer is perfectly free to live his dreams. If he reaches his goals and lives his dreams, more power to him. I would like the same courtesy from his fans: let me live my own dreams in peace, even if they don't include ever sitting in the Marriott Center screaming my brains out.

Michelle Peralta

Apple Valley, Calif.

2) Before the letter was actually published though, it was put up on the Daily Universe website. Michelle linked to it on her Facebook page, apparently proud of what she had accomplished.

But her Facebook privacy settings must have been pretty lax, because tons of people were able to comment on her Facebook page until the thread was ultimately taken down. But not before someone captured most of it:

Jimmered on Facebook

3) We spent all day Tuesday in the newsroom reading aloud our favorite Jimmerisms from the thread. It was classic.

4) Eamonn Brennan from ESPN even picked up on it, and blogged about it on ESPN's website.

One of the best things about this Facebook thread is that virtually all of the comments were kind and clean, and just simply funny. Probably at any other school, the comments would have been littered with profanity and mean-spirited responses. But not at BYU. That's something we can be proud of. (Ryan Ginn at The Daily Reveille wrote about that too.)

Another blog post, this time on Yahoo! Sports: Letter besmirching Jimmer inspires hilarious Facebook thread

5) Some of BYU's "Front Row Fanatics" put together a YouTube video, inviting Michelle Peralta to take part in the Jimmer experience:

6) Our opinion editor got enough letters that she planned Thursday's page to be all about Jimmer. Again, I'd give you links to all the letters, but the website is down probably because so many people have already read them and wanted to comment.

But, lucky for you folks, I have access to part of the opinion page. I drew a cartoon that provides a pictorial Jimmerism. Here it is in glorious color!

7) We quickly assigned a reporter to do a story on all this, our very own Kristian Ekenes. He's come up with a lot of great stuff so far, including an exclusive interview with Michelle Peralta herself. Look for that story in tomorrow's edition of The Daily Universe!

8) To be continued...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Is it football season yet?

Don't get me wrong. I am infested with Jimmer Fever and I can't wait to cover the MWC Tournament in Las Vegas and hopefully a few NCAA Tournament games.

But with National Signing Day, I'm starting to get excited for football again.

Since no reporters were available yesterday morning, I filled in and went to a Signing Day event at Rio Tinto Stadium, where a few of Utah's top recruits signed their letters of intent. There were six there who were headed to BYU, and I talked to Austin Heder, Kesni Tausinga and Baker Pritchard. They were a lot of fun to talk to, especially Kesni. He's going to be a lot of fun for reporters in the future.

Here's my story:

BYU football signs recruits

BYU had its own press conference yesterday afternoon, and again no reporters could go. So Alex and Sarah went to this one. From what Alex said, it looks like the press conference wasn't so much about the new recruits as it was about the future of BYU football generally. About going independent, exposure on ESPN...Bronco was actually excited. And that's saying something.

Here's Alex's story:

Mendenhall enthused about future of program

Our good friend at the copy desk Brandon put together a chart listing all the new recruits. Click here and go to page 7.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Crossed the finish line!


I whipped up two COMMS 420 stories in one day. It's quite an achievement, but now my fatigue-induced nausea and ache is setting in. It was worth it though.

First, I put the finishing touches on a story about the BYU athletics budget on Tuesday. I interviewed Dallan Moody, the athletic director over finances, like two weeks ago. But I procrastinated with other interviews and stuff, without any real good reason. My professor, after seeing my rough draft with only the Moody interview, suggested writing the story as two parts. So I worked on dividing it up on Friday, and then planned on doing the rest of my interviews Monday.

It's a good thing, too, because Monday my second 420 story became suddenly urgent.

Professor Hughes gave me the assignment to write a story about former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, Jr.'s presidential prospects. Some Huntsman buzz came up after a Newsweek interview hit newsstands earlier this month, written by none other than McKay Coppins, a friend and a BYU grad. Pretty cool for McKay, I hope I follow those same footsteps somehow.

Anyway, I was thinking of writing just a general story on the buzz. But then on Monday, the news broke that Huntsman had submitted his resignation to the White House and would be leaving his ambassador post. Which is a pretty obvious sign that he's up to something.

In The Daily Universe front page meeting, someone asked if a 321 reporter could do a story on the Huntsman developments real quickly. I piped up and said I was going to do one for 420, but that it would probably be two or three days before I could finish it. But I realized that if I was really going to do this story, to do it quick enough after Huntsman's breaking news for it to be relevant, I would have to do it the next day.

I freaked out. But, Monday night I called McKay and he graciously gave me 15 minutes of his time on the day that he was "vindicated" (his word). That gave me a good start, and then the next morning I finished my last interview for the BYU athletics budget story and then rushed to find some more interviews for the Huntsman story. I talked to the president of the BYU College Republicans, the president of the BYU Democrats, a political science professor and two students from the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy.

And I finished it that afternoon! I was 45 minutes late to my 4 p.m. class, but other than that it was pretty smooth.

Anyway, that's the story behind my story.

Here it is!

Huntsman to throw hat into ring?

The original story was 58 inches long! I decided to take out some secondary quotes for a shorter version (which was still 40 inches). Our fearless leader Natalie Crofts was kind enough to use both versions, the short one for the newspaper and the long one for the website.

(My BYU athletics budget story will be published sometime later.)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...