Elon Hosts “Gathering of Friends” Following the Death of Junior Breslin Wiley

After the unexpected death of Elon junior Breslin Wiley, faculty and staff organized a “Gathering of Friends” in Numen Lumen Pavilion on Sunday night. The event, moderated and led by University Chaplain and Lecturer Jan Fuller, was meant to encourage friends and acquaintances to come together and share thoughts, memories, and stories about Breslin with other members of the Elon community. Breslin’s parents, Michael and Georgia Wiley, made the drive down from Moseley, Virginia to attend the gathering, along with Breslin’s twin brother, who attends the University of South Carolina.

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People watch and listen as one of Breslin’s friends addresses the crowd.

The McBride Gathering Space in Numen Lumen was packed full of students, faculty, and staff who either had something to say about Breslin or simply wanted to pay their respects to his family and honor his memory. Many students cried as tissues and microphones were passed around the room, inviting those in attendance to speak if they felt so inclined, but also to let out any emotion they were feeling while surrounded by friends.

Breslin was an Engineering Physics major and a member of Elon’s club baseball team. Members of the team surrounded the Wiley family near the front of the room as people took turns telling stories and recalling fond memories Breslin. Elon Vice President for Student Life broke the news to the Elon community via email on Saturday afternoon and urged anyone who needed to talk to somebody to contact Counseling Services or Campus Safety.

 

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The McBride Gathering Space in Numen Lumen Pavilion was packed with people from the front to the back who wanted to honor Breslin’s memory.

Around 100 people showed up at the McBride Gathering Space, trickling in before and after the event was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Chaplain Fuller opened the evening by having a moment of silence for everyone to collect their thoughts and reflect before she began passing around microphones. Speakers ranged from former roommates to friends to classmates, with nearly everyone commenting on how much of an uplifting spirit Wiley had been, and how he was never found without a smile on his face.

If you need to speak with anyone following this tragic event, you can contact Elon’s Counseling Services at 336-278-7280 during regular hours. Counselors and the chaplain’s staff are available after hours by contacting Campus Safety and Police at 336-278-5555. The Student Life administrator-on-call may also be reached at 336-278-5555 at any time.

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Pew Research Center says Jobs Skills and Training will need Massive Overhaul to keep up with Artificial Intelligence

By Matt Holzapfel

In other news today, robots are taking over the world, for real this time…..well, not really. The Pew Research Center recently released a report titled “The Future of Job Skills and Job Training” centered around the idea that humans may soon be forced to learn new skills in order to compete with artificial intelligence, yes robots, who could be taking their jobs.

The report, done by Pew Research Center Internet, Science and Technology research expert Lee Rainie alongside Elon Professor and Director of Elon’s Imagining the Internet Center Janna Anderson explores what exactly humans will need to do to keep up with machines. “Most experts expect that education and jobs-training ecosystems will shift in the next decade to exploit new virtual and augmented reality tools and artificial intelligence,” the report says. “Liberal arts-based critical-thinking-driven curriculums; scaled-up apprenticeships and job mentoring and micro-credentialing of new competencies”

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Elon Professor Janna Anderson speaks to a class about what the new-age of technology will mean for jobs in the future

“Things are constantly changing,” said Anderson. “Five years from now will Facebook exist? MySpace doesn’t exist anymore, imagine that applied to all these job indicators. That’s why we have to be flexible, resilient, creative and innovative moving forward.” The Pew Research Center’s report also surveyed 1,408 people about the emergence of new educational and training programs built to train large numbers of workers in the skills they need to compete for jobs with AI. 70% of those polled said that they do expect new approaches will emerge and be successful, while 30% said they do not expect such a thing.

“I’ve actually done a little bit of research on that,” sophomore Griffin Evans said when asked about what skills should be taught to people in the workforce that want to keep their jobs safe from AI. “So many politicians are concerned about the jobs that we’re losing overseas, but we’re actually losing 60% more jobs to artificial intelligence than we are to countries overseas.” Sophomore Evan Sassaman pointed out that there will always be some skills that you just can’t program a robot to have that a human does. “People need social skills now more than ever because technology is taking over so many things,” said Sassaman. “It’s easy for people to become more isolated and feel as if they don’t need to communicate or work well with others. Communication is key for so many things, and there needs to be a greater emphasis on that.”

While Evans said that he does buy into the newfound fear that “robots are stealing our jobs,” Sassaman had a different point of view. “I do not currently buy into the ‘robots are stealing our jobs craze,’ however I am nervous about where robots could go in the future. For example, things like self-driving cars just make me nervous, and I’m worried that people will become too reliant on these things.

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Points from the Pew Research Center’s Report; Graphic by Matt Holzapfel (canva.com)

“The vast majority of these experts wrestled with a foundational question,” explains Anderson in the report. “What is special about human beings that cannot be overtaken by robots and artificial intelligence?” That same question is likely what has allowed humans to maintain a slight edge on AI for the past decade, but the gap is slowly shrinking. “I hope such training programs could exist,” exclaimed Sassaman about the future success of training and educational programs that could boost the repertoire of skills that humans have that AI doesn’t. “I think anything that could give humans an edge over robots would be great. Too often we hear of corporations wanting to replace workers with automated machines because they’re cheaper and faster so anything to give humans an extra edge would be beneficial.”

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Elon Sophomore Griffin Evans thinks that we should be paying more attention to the jobs we’re losing to AI than to the ones we’re losing overseas

When asked the same question, Griffin Evans said it was a possibility, but it depends. “It depends on the situation and where the AI is used,” he said. “Any field where it’s doing the same mundane task over and over again is more favorable to the AI no matter what. I can see places where an actual person would perform better than a robot though, like in medicine or broadcasting.” For now, humans can rest easy, however, as it seems like we’re still a few years away at the least from a major breakthrough that could allow artificial intelligence to partially or completely take over a job industry. Even then, there are many industries where we just don’t have the technology to make AI do the type of complex tasks that humans can, meaning human labor is still one of the most invaluable resources on the planet.

For more information about the Pew Research Center and their studies on artificial intelligence, click here. To read why Professor Anderson says the “robot takeover” may already be upon us, check out her article on medium.com.

Elon Honors Alumni and Donors with….Bricks?

By Matt Holzapfel

On a campus made up almost entirely of brick, it’s only fitting that Elon University chose to recognize their alumni and senior donors with personalized bricks on Elon’s campus, joining the many personalized bricks that can already be found around the university.

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Bricks can be personalized with donors’ names, years of graduation, and the names of organizations they participated in while on attending Elon

Elon’s new “Brick by Brick” campaign was introduced partly due to the success of their previous brick personalization campaign called Pave the Way, which took place in 2013. Alumni and seniors can participate in the “Brick by Brick” campaign by setting up a recurring gift of $5 per month or $60 per year to any area of campus. Gifts must be submitted by May 31, the last day of the university’s fiscal year, according to elon.edu.

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“The overall goal of the campaign is to support Elon and continue to foster ties between alumni and the university” — John Barnhill

Assistant Vice President for University Advancement John Barnhill says that the symbolism of leaving a mark on campus with a brick shows a close connection with the university, regardless of distance or time. “Having the option to personalize the brick’s text also allows alumni to reflect on what was important to them during their Elon experience,” said Barnhill. “After spending years learning and thriving on campus, having your words solidified into the foundation of the university creates a powerful representation of loyalty and appreciation. But a brick is both a physical reminder of the past and the future. The true success of a brick campaign is promoting the impact of each gift and making sure that alumni understand their role as a partner, advocate, and investor. So for these reasons, a brick campaign becomes successful by engaging alumni through shared emotional connections and supporting a tradition of giving.”

Barnhill also noted that while the central goal of the program is to increase “loyal alumni participation” because it shows the vitality of an alumni base that cares to give back each and every year, honoring that participation with their own personalized bricks has proven to be very popular in the past. “Alumni donors want to personalize their support for Elon and leave a lasting memory on campus,” explained Barnhill. “Even years after the 2013 Pave the Way campaign, we still have alumni asking if bricks are available. Personalization will always help drive engagement, but supporting Elon is the main incentive.”

The 2013 Pave the Way campaign was not the first time Elon has recognized alumni and donors by allowing them to personalize bricks on campus, but it was the largest such event. The tradition dates back to the 1990’s when the university honored donors in the with a small brick campaign, which can be seen in front of the Moseley Center.

The deadline to participate in the upcoming “Brick by Brick” campaign is May 31. For more information, visit www.elon.edu/u/advancement/brick-by-brick/.

The Biggest Question Mark in Every Team’s 2017 Draft Class

By Matt Holzapfel

Following every NFL draft, there’s always going to be question marks. One team takes a running back too high, another drafts an unknown player, some team trades the ranch to move one pick up and draft a QB who would’ve been there if they hadn’t moved up (I’m looking at you Chicago.) Here’s the biggest question mark in every team’s 2017 NFL draft class.

NFC West:

San Francisco 49ers

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Biggest Question Mark: Joe Williams, RB, Utah (4th round, 121 overall)

While the decision to draft quarterback C.J. Beathard was a big surprise for 49ers fans, the biggest surprise within the organization proved to be the decision to select Utah running back Joe Williams. Joe Williams, the same RB who left the Utah football program last September, citing mental exhaustion. 49ers GM John Lynch said this past weekend that the 49ers had removed Williams from their draft board because of the belief that he had “quit” on his team. Williams, who rushed for 1,884 yards in two years at Utah and scored 13 rushing touchdowns, joins a crowded backfield of Carlos Hyde, Mike Davis, Tim Hightower and newly acquired Kapri Bibbs (from Denver) that has no real order behind Hyde as the starter. If Williams can prove that his head really is in the game, he has a chance to become the number one backup behind Hyde. If he can’t, he’ll end up being a career backup who can’t stay with more than one team.

Los Angeles Rams

Biggest Question Mark:  Samson Ebukan, LB, Eastern Washington (4th round, 125 overall)

LA’s second selection from Eastern Washington University (WR Corey Kupp in the 3rd round) has the speed, explosiveness, and the football intelligence but needs time to develop according to multiple draft reports. At 6’3 and 240 pounds, Ebukan is undersized but could use his speed and athleticism to make up for that lack of size at the linebacker position. The Rams lacked depth at linebacker last season, but Ebukan could backup both OLB Robert Quinn and newly acquired LB Connor Barwin (from Philadelphia) if he can gain enough of a grasp on the Rams’ 3-4 system to make up for his weaknesses elsewhere.

Arizona Cardinals

Biggest Question Mark: Chad Williams, WR, Grambling State (3rd round, 98 overall)

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Chad Williams reacts to being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft

Anytime you take a skill position player from a lesser known college like Grambling State, especially as early as the third round, you’re taking a risk. While Williams, nor anybody, isn’t ever going to replace Larry Fitzgerald, he could learn quite a bit from the future Hall of Famer. Williams used his body well in positioning and with the ball in his hands in college. In four years for the Grambling State Tigers, he caught 210 passes for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns. He has just enough speed to take the top off a defense, and with the muddy state of the Cardinals receiving core aside from Fitz, he could secure a starting role as soon as 2018 or 2019.

Seattle Seahawks

Biggest Question Mark: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State (2nd round, 35 overall)

While D-linemen Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett are both All-Pro caliber players, they’re also both 31 years old. It’s getting close to time for Seattle to find suitable replacements for them on the defensive side of the trenches, and McDowell could be just that. McDowell (6’6, 295 pounds) also gives them a talented defensive tackle who has great upside, however, it will be up to the Seattle coaching staff to keep him motivated, possibly his biggest weakness. McDowell had 1.5 sacks during Michigan State’s disappointing 2016 campaign (3-9 overall), during which many people questioned his consistency and effort. At his best, McDowell could be the next fearsome D-lineman on the legendary Seattle defense, or he could slip into irrelevancy and gain a reputation for someone with great potential who just never cared enough.

NFC South:

Carolina Panthers

Biggest Question Mark: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (1st round, 8 overall)

Panthers fans have a slightly unfair reputation for getting very defensive whenever anyone criticized their team (I’m looking at you, Cam Newton haters), but hear me out. While McCaffrey no doubt possesses the speed, elusiveness, and playmaking ability to carve out a solid role in the Panthers offense, it’s exactly that that puts his status in question. Will he challenge longtime Panther J-Stew for the starting spot? Or will he be asked, instead, to start at slot receiver and fill the hole left by Ted Ginn who left for The Big Easy this offseason? Speaking of that Ted Ginn-sized hole, McCaffrey could also be asked to start out returning punts and kickoffs, which he did in college with much effectiveness. The biggest question mark for McCaffrey is undoubtedly his size. At 5’11, he is extremely undersized, and might not be able to hold blocks as well as a bigger back might. At best the Panthers using their first overall pick will pay off and they’ll have a hard-working, hard-running back on their hands for years to come. At the worst, they’ll be ridiculed for ever taking McCaffrey with such a high pick.

(Video courtesy of the NFL)\

New Orleans Saints

Biggest Question Mark: Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida (3rd round, 76 overall)

After inexplicably using two of their first four picks on offense (albeit offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk at the end of the 1st round was a solid pick), the Saints failed to give enough attention to their gaping hole at the edge rusher position. Top pick Marshon Lattimore filled the hole at corner that they first thought would be filled by Malcolm Butler or Trumaine Johnson, but Anzalone doesn’t necessarily qualify as an edge rusher. Despite this, he did run the third-fastest 40-yard dash of any linebacker at the NFL combine (4.63 seconds) and had 53 tackles through eight games in his last season at Florida before suffering a broken forearm. Anzalone also battled multiple shoulder injuries during his first three seasons and will have to compete for playing time with recently signed veterans A.J. Klein and Manti Te’o and current Saints linebackers Craig Robertson, Dannell Ellerbe, Stephone Anthony and Nathan Stupar.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Biggest Question Mark: OJ Howard, TE, Alabama (1st round, 19 overall)

Yes, Howard was the most complete tight end in this year’s draft and yes, the Bucs did get a steal taking him at 19. Here’s my problem with Howard: expectations. There’s no reason to expect that OJ Howard (6’5, 251 pounds) won’t be great, he was the most complete tight end in this year’s draft. He ran a 4.51 in the 40 at the combine, second best among tight ends, and in three years at ‘Bama, he caught about 73.5 percent of his 136 targets. He also caught a touchdown and had 106 receiving yards in the national title game early this year. Not only has he been touted as a “dynamic receiving weapon,” but also as a very gifted blocker, as he was used significantly in Alabama’s ground game. That blocking ability will be critical for the Bucs’ run-first offense, which fell from fifth in the league in 2015 to 24th in 2016. What was I saying? Oh, that’s right, expectations. The Bucs parted ways with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins after he was arrested for a DUI in September of 2016, and their only other option was the undersized Cameron Brate who is coming off of a back injury from 2016. Howard has a big role to fill, but if he can step up and prove that he was worth the Bucs’ first-round pick, he could make a big splash this season in an offense that has no shortage of weapons (see Desean Jackson, Mike Evans, Doug Martin.)

Atlanta Falcons

Biggest Question Mark: Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA (1st round, 26 overall)

(Video courtesy of The Fumble)

FINE ME LATER, but hear me out first. That’s right, outspoken pass rusher and Atlanta’s first overall pick in this year’s draft is my biggest question mark for the team. While it’s hard to question the Falcons’ formula on offensive behind the likes of Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, and Matty Ice, their defense clearly needed some work after they blew a 25-point lead to the NFL’s resident villains the New England Patriots (sorry Falcons fans.) Enter Tak McKinley, the Robin to Vic Beasley’s Batman, the thunder to his lightning, the ying to his yang, you get the picture. McKinley had 10 sacks for UCLA during the 2016 season and ranked 10th in the nation with 1.6 tackles for loss per game. The addition of McKinley, plus defensive tackle Dontari Poe in free agency, will significantly improve the Falcons’ pass rush, especially against other teams in the NFC South that made huge moves this offseason, bringing names like DeSean Jackson, OJ Howard, and Adrian Peterson to the division. Despite all of this, McKinley underwent major right shoulder surgery in March and couldn’t work out for the Falcons during the pre-draft process. While he initially said the timetable for recovery was four to six months, McKinley explained that he was supposed to wear a sling for five weeks but wore it for only three and was back rehabbing twice a day Monday through Saturday almost immediately after surgery. Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he anticipates that McKinley will be ready by training camp, but the Falcons will make sure not to rush their new star into action. If he can stay healthy, look out for the Atlanta defensive line this upcoming season, coming to a backfield near you soon.

NFC North:

Chicago Bears

Biggest Question Mark: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, UNC (1st round, 2 overall)

Here we are, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Mitch Trubisky, young and unproven, going to a team in desperate (or were they?) need of a quarterback. After finishing 3-13 last season and parting ways with their longest-tenured starting quarterback since Sid Luckman (1939-1948; Cutler was the Bears starter on-and-off for eight years), the Bears needed a QB…..so they signed Mike Glennon and everyone assumed he would be their starter, for the short term at least. But alas, in what was an honestly insulting move to the entire NFL and every football fan in the world, they traded four, count ’em FOUR draft picks, including the third overall pick, for the second overall pick and nothing else.

NFL expert Chris Wesseling sums up all of our thoughts with exasperation and dismay, disappointing Bears, we expected this from Cleveland, not from you. Now, before we dive into why Trubisky was less of a question mark and more of a huge risk that could doom the franchise for years, we do have to acknowledge that the Bears likely weren’t the only suitor for the 49ers pick at number 2, and that’s why they had to give up so much for it. Now back to the issue at hand, Chicago passed up on literally every defensive player in the draft aside from Myles Garrett to select a quarterback who started 13 games in college. The Bears are on the brink, and it’s highly doubtful Trubisky helps them in 2017. In his third season at UNC, Trubisky threw for 3,748 yards and 30 TDs to six interceptions, while he combined for just over 1,000 yards and 11 TDs to four interceptions in his first two years at UNC. Best case scenario, Trubisky proves us all wrong and shows that he was worth the number two pick. Worst case scenario, we’ll be seeing the Bears picking in the top 10 for years to come.

Minnesota Vikings

Biggest Question Mark: Pat Elflein, C, Ohio State (3rd round, 70 overall)

Listed as a center, Elflein played right guard at Ohio State before being asked to slide over when the Buckeyes needed help at the position. The 2016 Rimington Trophy winner, awarded to the best center in college football, gives the Vikings a strong, young option at the spot they had the most pressing need at after signing Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers this offseason. If the Vikes can figure out where to put him and Elflein is willing to accept his role, whatever it may be, Minnesota might have found themselves a future longtime starter on the offensive line.

Detroit Lions

Biggest Question Mark: Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami (6th round, 215 overall)

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Photo by Tyler Lecka/Getty Images

This might not be the most obvious choice, but it’s still interesting that the Lions chose to use their 6th round pick on Kaaya, who was extremely successful three years at Miami. A lot of people thought that Kaaya should’ve stayed for his senior season at the U, but Kaaya’s decision to come out early paid off….kinda. While he did get drafted, it’s unlikely that Kaaya will see any significant playing time as long as Stafford is healthy. Speaking of Stafford, the Lions’ franchise gunslinger is only 29 years old, which is the main reason why this pick doesn’t make sense. At best, Kaaya could give Jake Rudock a run for the Lions’ backup QB spot, but don’t expect to hear much about him outside of that for a while.

Green Bay Packers

Biggest Question Mark: Kevin King, CB, Washington (2nd round, 33 overall)

For the sixth, yes SIXTH straight year, the Packers used their first pick in the draft on a defensive player.  There’s no way to argue that taking a cornerback like King was the wrong call given how bad the Packers’ pass defense was last season. This is a Super Bowl-contending team that needs to get better on defense to live up to the billing, especially while future Hall-of-Famer Aaron Rodgers is still in his prime. The Packers have said that King has a chance to be a No. 1 cornerback. They essentially played all of last season without Sam Shields after he sustained a season-ending (and possibly career-ending) concussion in Week 1. King also gives the Packers their tallest cornerback (6’3). If King and the Packers’ other defensive picks can perform like they’re expected to, Packers fans can R-E-L-A-X for years to come.

NFC East:

Philadelphia Eagles

Biggest Question Mark: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington (2nd round, 43 overall)

10 picks after Kevin King’s name was called, his fellow Huskies cornerback Sidney Jones went to Philly, a team that was in pretty desperate need at the CB position. The risk here is obvious, as Jones ruptured his left Achilles tendon during his pro day workout in early March. The Eagles medical staff are confident that Jones will make a full recovery from his surgery, and assuming he does, he could be Philadelphia’s starting CB before too long.

Washington Redskins

Biggest Question Mark: Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma (4th round, 114 overall)

First, let me say that I absolutely love Samaje Perine out of Oklahoma. He’s a hard runner who comes with power, strength (see video below) and the ability to fight for yards after contact. The question here is how will Perine fit into Washington’s RB plans, with Robert Kelly very much not entrenched in the starting running back role. The field is wide open, literally and figuratively, for Perine who I think could do huge things in the NFL.

New York Giants

Biggest Question Mark: Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss (1st round, 23 overall)

In a season where the defense dominated and the offense struggled aside from phenom Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants offensive needs were the focus of this year’s draft. And boy did they let us down. USA Today ranked the Giants’ draft class 30 out of 32, yep that about sums it up. As a resident Giants fan, I loved OJ Howard. I loved OJ Howard, and he was falling, he fell all the way to 19, 19….that’s four picks from us until the Buccaneers took him with their first overall pick. Damn you Tampa Bay. Instead, New York took Evan Engram out of Ole Miss who, while he has been described as a dynamic player with unique skills and athletic ability, is essentially a big receiver who won’t intimidate anybody with his blocking ability. If Engram can improve his blocking to supplement his route-running and receiving skills, he could make an immediate impact in the Giants often-anemic offense. If he can’t………please help us, Odell.

Dallas Cowboys

Biggest Question Mark: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado (2nd round, 60 overall)

Dallas was criticized by some for taking Taco Charlton, who carried a second-round grade on their draft board, 28th overall, but they felt they had to take a defensive end because of the drop-off at the position. They also knew they would have a chance to select a cornerback in the second round, and they had a choice of Awuzie, Cordrea Tankersley, and Fabian Moreau when they were on the clock. Since the Cowboys did not move down, Awuzie was their target from the start of the round. Despite only having three interceptions in college, Awuzie was a productive player in terms of tackles for loss (26), sacks (9) and pass deflections (35). In a division that has Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder, Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, the Cowboys need competitive, tough-minded players on the defensive side of the ball, especially at cornerback. The Cowboys lost cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne and safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox in free agency, so their need in the secondary was bordering desperate. Awuzie could be forced into a big role early, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can live up to expectations.

That does it for the NFC! Take a deep breath, if you’ve read it straight through, props. If you’re just looking for your favorite team and they’re in the AFC, here we go.

AFC West:

The team formerly known as the San Diego Chargers, the Los Angeles Chargers

Biggest Question Mark: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson (1st round, 7 overall)

A big, physical receiver with a wealth of big-game experience, Mike Williams isn’t a question mark because of something he has or hasn’t done, instead, he’s a question mark because of the other members of the Chargers receiving core. Keenan Allen may be the team’s Number one receiver, but he’s coming off ACL surgery that forced him to miss most of the 2016 season. Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin also missed time with injuries last season so Williams will add depth and young talent to a position of need. Tha being said, because of the current state of the Chargers veteran receivers, Williams may be forced into a big role early, so we’ll see if he’s ready to catch what Philip Rivers throws his way.

Denver Broncos

Biggest Question Mark: Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss (7th round, 253 overall)

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Kelly must have gotten tired of waiting to hear his name called, falling asleep during the 6th round of the draft

Yes, Mr. Irrelevant himself. This pick is actually extremely intriguing to me, as Kelly, the nephew of Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly, looked phenomenal in 2015 and parts of 2016 when he was under center for Ole Miss. To make matters even more interesting, the Broncos still a lot of questions at the QB position, as the combination of Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch were a super letdown for Denver last season, and Kelly could reasonably compete for the Broncos’ starting spot, assuming he can get his attitude problems together (he was dismissed from Clemson for several incidents before going to Ole Miss) and that his knee heals fully after he tore his ACL and meniscus last November.

Oakland Raiders (Soon to be the Las Vegas Raiders)

Biggest Question Mark: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State (1st round, 24 overall)

This one is simple. Conley was accused of rape earlier in the week before the draft, and while the accusations are not currently backed up by any physical proof, it still made drafting Conley a risk. That being said, Conley wasn’t arrested or charged and he was set to speak with police on Monday to try and clear up the situation. If he can get past these accusations, he could be the third piece to a Raiders cornerback core that was 24th in passing defense last season, despite being led by high-priced backs Sean Smith and David Amerson.

Kansas City Chiefs

Biggest Question Mark: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech (1st round, 10 overall)

Alex Smith is 32 years old. That sounds old, but you couldn’t tell from watching him on the field. It’s curious that KC decided to send it’s 2017 and 2018 first round picks (along with their 2017 first rounder) to Buffalo to move up from number 27 and take Mahomes at 10. Unless Smith gets hurt I don’t really see Mahomes getting that much playing time in his first two seasons at least.

In spite of this, there’s no denying that Mahomes has a load of raw talent, and was arguably the QB with the highest ceiling in this year’s draft class. With Andy Reid’s tutelage, this kid could be a star one day, look out AFC.

AFC South:

Jacksonville Jaguars

Biggest Question Mark: Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma (4th round, 110 overall)

Another Jaguars receiver, another young man with character issues. Westbrook (4.4 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and 18 yards per catch in two seasons at OU) joins the long line of wideouts in Jacksonville who had too many off the field problems that overshadowed their on the field talent (Ace Sanders, Matt Jones, R. Jay Soward, Reggie Williams, Jimmy Smith and Justin Blackmon all dealt with drug or alcohol issues while with the team.) The difference with Westbrook, however, is that he has never actually been charged with anything, despite being arrested twice for domestic violence. In the first case, the district attorney’s office declined to pursue charges. In the second case, the charges were dismissed because the state could not locate Westbrook’s accuser. If he can put his off the field problems behind him, he has a chance to move up from third string receiving and punt/kick returning duties and become a solid starter in the future.

Indianapolis Colts

Biggest Question Mark: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida (2nd round, 46 overall)

After doing extensive research into the Colts draft class this year, let me tell you, it…is…boring, and that’s not a bad thing. The Colts needed defensive help bad and got it in the form of six (out of eight) players drafted on the defensive side of the ball. Malik Hooker was an excellent pick at 15, he’ll likely start at Free Safety come Week 1, and Quincy Wilson has a chance to compete for the starting spot opposite Vontae Davis. He only made this list because he said “I’m just a shutdown corner. I frustrate a lot of receivers when I play them,” and that’s a hard promise to live up to in the NFL.

Tennessee Titans

Biggest Question Mark: Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC (1st Round, 18 overall)

I like the pick of Jackson at 18 with their second first round pick after they reached way too much for receiver Corey Davis out of Western Michigan. Jackson, however, is undersized at 5’10 and 186 pounds, which could spell trouble for the first-year corner, especially against some of the bigger receivers in the league. He has great catch-up speed (ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine) and could make his way into the Titans starting lineup sooner rather than later.

Houston Texans

Biggest Question Mark: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt (2nd Round, 57 overall)

This one’s simple, the Texans had a pretty big need at outside linebacker, so, in classic Texans fashion, they drafted an inside linebacker. Cunningham has never played outside linebacker, and the ILB position is stacked with the likes of Brian Cushing, Benardrick McKinney, and Max Bullough. The Texans better hope Cunningham is willing to make the switch to OLB, or this pick could end up as wasted as the money they paid Brock Osweiler last season.

AFC North

Cleveland Browns

Biggest Question Mark: Jabrill Peppers, ??, Michigan (1st Round, 25 overall)

If you only read two of these, one was probably your favorite team, and the other was Cleveland. Unlike their NBA counterparts, the Browns are a perpetual mess of poor decisions and straight up lack of talent. BUT NOT TODAY CLEVELAND. Breath easy Browns fans, your savior(s) are here. Myles Garrett was a no-brainer, but the Browns didn’t make it easy on their fans. Peppers is a question mark for a few reasons. First, there’s his diluted sample. The Browns were not bothered by the fact that Peppers tested positive for a diluted sample at the combine. Peppers said he had to “hydrate excessively” because he was cramping due to working out with two position groups (linebacker and safety), and that’s a good enough explanation for me, but the door is not entirely shut on other possibilities. The other question is where the heck do you play this guy? In college, he lined up at DB (355 snaps), linebacker (324 snaps), quarterback (29 snaps) wide receiver (12 snaps) and running back (10 snaps), while also returning punts and kicks multiple times. Talk about an all-around athlete. According to Browns’ coach Hue Jackson, Peppers will play strong safety initially but don’t be surprised if we see him move around just like he did in college.

I’ve included Myles Garrett’s combine highlight reel for your viewing pleasure, the kid is a freak and those JJ Watt comparisons were well deserved, enjoy.

Cincinnati Bengals

Biggest Question Mark: Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma (2nd Round, 48 overall)

This one was almost too easy but it has to be talked about. After punching a woman in the face in 2014, a lot of teams did not even have Mixon on their draft board come draft time.  It had been clear for several months how much the Bengals liked Mixon, however, and if any team was willing to ignore the public scrutiny that came with picking the talented running back out of Oklahoma, it was the Bengals, who stood by Adam Jones after his arrest and have a history of taking chances on troubled players. If Mixon can overcome his past issues, he can…..oh wait….that’s the other thing. The Bengals ALREADY HAVE TWO STARTING RUNNING BACKS ON THEIR ROSTER. Fantasy football players were already fed up with the Jeremy Hill-Gio Bernard conundrum in Cincy’s backfield, and there is minimal room for Mixon, who I would argue has too much raw talent to be a third string back or to be wasting it by making mistakes off the field for that matter.

Baltimore Ravens

Biggest Question Mark: Their entire draft class

The Ravens draft class is as follows:

  • Round 1 (16) Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
  • Round 2 (47) Tyus Bowser, LB, Houston
  • Round 3 (74) Chris Wormley, DE, Michigan
  • Round 3 (78) Tim Williams, LB, Alabama
  • Round 4 (122) Nico Siragusa, G, San Diego State
  • Round 5 (159) Jermaine Eluemunor, G, Texas A&M
  • Round 6 (186) Chuck Clark, DB, Virginia Tech

The Ravens are paper thin at both running back and wide receiver, yet failed to address either one of those needs in this year’s draft. After passing up on fellow Alabama defensive studs DE Jonathan Allen or ILB Reuben Foster, they took CB Marlon Humphrey with their first overall pick, who should compliment Jimmy Smith and newly acquired Brandon Carr nicely. That doesn’t take away from the fact that their current starting RB is Lorenzo Taliaferro and Michael Campanaro is their starting WR across from Mike Wallace. The Ravens defense will be ferocious this year, but their offense will be more like a pigeon and less like a raven.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Biggest Question Mark: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC (2nd round, 62 overall)

Schuster is one of those “Yes….but” kind of picks. Yes has good size at 6’2 and yes he can go up and get the 50-50 balls when called upon. Yes, he plays with great passion and yes he has a low of raw talent. BUT. JuJu doesn’t necessarily have the speed that guys like Antonio Brown or Darius Heyward-Bey have, and I’m not quite sure where he fits in an already loaded Steelers offense. Martavis Bryant insisted that Schuster is Sammie Coates’ replacement and not his, but if Schuster doesn’t shine in training camp, he could fall as low as fourth on the Steelers’ WR depth chart.

AFC East:

New York Jets

Biggest Question Mark: Chad Hansen, WR, California (4th round, 141 overall)

After taking former Alabama receiver Ardarius Stewart with their third round pick, the J-E-T-E Jets took another receiver in Hansen the very next round. They now have 13 receivers on the roster, which raises questions about the future of veteran Eric Decker and of 2015 second-round pick Devin Smith, who has been riddled with injuries throughout his short career so far. Also, the Jets have a new offensive coordinator, John Morton, a former NFL receiver and a former receivers coach. The front office has apparently set out with the goal of remaking the position with players who fit his West Coast system. Hansen is coming off a huge year at Cal, but he may fall victim to the receiver graveyard that is the New York Yets (see Harvin, Holmes, Marshall, and Burress.)

Buffalo Bills

Biggest Question Mark: Dion Dawkins, OL, Temple (2nd round, 63 overall)

Currently penciled in as the starter at right tackle, Dawkins was drafted 63rd overall after the Bills gave up three draft picks to move up 12 spots from the 75th pick.  That left Buffalo without third or fourth round picks, likely ensuring that they use their 2018 draft resources to move up for a player in those rounds. Dawkins has the potential to become a solid starter at right tackle, yet the Bills gave up a lot of draft capital and flexibility to get him. The Bills only made six picks this draft, including two in the second and two in the fifth, and they will be banking on guys like Dawkins, along with DB Tre’Davious White and WR Zay Jones to turn the team around after years of irrelevancy.

Miami Dolphins

Biggest Question Mark: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri (1st round, 22 overall)

This is less about Harris, who Miami did draft, and more about the guy that they didn’t draft, Reuben Foster.  Once a projected top-10 pick, Foster slid down the draft board due to character and medical red flags. Foster tested positive for a diluted urine sample at the NFL combine, got into an altercation with a hospital worker in Indianapolis and was sent home early. There were also questions about a prior shoulder injury. That seemed to be enough for the Dolphins and other teams to pass on Foster. This has set up the two NFL newcomers for comparisons of Foster vs. Harris for years to come.

New England Patriots

Biggest Question Mark: Derek Rivers, LB, Youngstown State (3rd round, 83 overall)

There really isn’t much of a point in even evaluating the 51 champs, as they only made four picks in this year’s draft after trading most of them away, especially in the Brandin Cooks trade with New Orleans. New England will be dominant again this year after adding Cooks and top cornerback Stephon Gilmore, formerly of the Buffalo Bills. Rivers comes into the season as an unknown mainly due to the fact that played at an FCS school in Youngstown State, and it’s near impossible to predict how he will fare against NFL-level offenses. He did have a school record 41 sacks, and with the Patriots’ luck, he’ll probably be playing in the Pro Bowl in a few years. Damn you New England, we’ll always have the helmet catch though, never forget it.

That does it. 32 teams in the books. Think I missed an obvious question mark? Leave a comment below. Special thanks to USA Today writer Steven Ruiz for this extremely helpful article.

Elon Students and the Elon Poll Weigh in on Trump as 100th Day Approaches

By Matt Holzapfel

As President Donald Trump’s 100th day in office nears, support for his administration and his policies has wavered slightly, according to a report done by the Elon University Poll. The Elon Poll is a university-funded organization that conducts frequent regional and statewide surveys on issues of importance to North Carolinians as well as other southern states. Their most recent report, titled “Trump Support Declines in North Carolina at the end of the First 100 Days” includes several polls and graphics, ranging from general approval ratings to people’s thoughts on Trump’s use of Twitter. The full report can be found here.

“Yeah, I’ve heard of the poll,” said Kristen O’Neill, a sophomore at Elon University. “It’s 10 dollars an hour and you get free pizza,” she joked. “They call North Carolina residents and try and gain a consensus on what North Carolinians believe.” That assessment is pretty much spot on with the Poll’s goals and methodology.

GetImageThe first poll, shown to the right, asked NC residents their thoughts on the President’s overall job so far since he took office. “I saw it (this poll) on Facebook actually,” said O’Neill. “It doesn’t surprise me.” “You have to think about North Carolina as a whole,” said sophomore Betsy Albritton. “There’s a lot of small, conservative counties. I’d say it’s pretty fair.”

The first poll conducted seems to mirror the general consensus on the national level, as Trump approval ratings tend to hover around 53% disapprove and 42% approve, according to fivethirtyeight.com.

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Elon sophomore Kristin O’Neill

The second poll asked people what they thought about Trump’s use of Twitter. The results were more astounding than any of the other polls and showed that 73% of people thought it was inappropriate, while just 18% of people thought it was appropriate.

“It comes off as immature,” said sophomore Thomas Coogan. “You can see he’s actually getting less favorites as the weeks go on. When he’s blaming other people it doesn’t go over as well.” O’Neill was also not surprised and said: “I’d agree with that.”

The third poll posted was regarding Trump’s plan to build a wall along the US border with Mexico. You can see the results of that poll to the right. O’Neill agreed that the results were not too surprising. GetImage (1)As for Trump’s overall approval ratings, Coogan said we might see a drastic shift in the future, or we might not. “It depends on how his presidency goes, there’s only so long you can scapegoat (blame) other people before people start to say ‘okay maybe you’re not the person for us.'”

Elon Poll Director Jason Husser noted that while Trump has faced harsh criticism from many people, the core supporters that carried him to the Oval Office in the first place still remain very loyal. “Typically, Presidents enjoy strong support during their first 100 days, even from former opponents or critics,” said Husser. “The Trump presidency is

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“His (Trump’s) use of Twitter is deeply unpopular, even among his otherwise loyal base voters” — Elon Poll Director Jason Husser

different. His level of support in his first 100 days, both for himself personally and for his key policies, is as low as we’ve seen in the history of opinion polling. However, his core supporters remain very loyal.” Husser also noted that this disapproval is partly Trump’s fault, but also partly the result of a damaged political system. “Trump’s difficulty in presidential approval likely comes from two sources, his rhetorical and policy decisions, which he has control over, and a divisive, polarized and dysfunctional political environment that makes it hard for any incoming president to function.”

The Abridged Math Tools for Journalists: A Briefing Part Three

By Matt Holzapfel

This part of the Abridged Math Tools for Journalists Series will be focused on Chapters 9-12 of the book “Math Tools for Journalists” by Kathleen Woodruff Wickham.

Chapter 9: Directional Measurements

What are directional measurements, you ask? Great question. Directional measurements are time problems, distance problems, rate problems. All of those problems you saw in middle school, they’re back. While checking the numbers in time, rate and distance problems usually involves just some basic math, it’s still important for reporters to double-check any numbers that will appear in their reporting.

When working with time, rate and distance problems, it is important to keep the units of measurement the same. The formulas are as follows: Distance = rate x time, Rate = Distance x Time, and Time = Distance/Rate. Other directional measurements include speed, velocity, acceleration, g-force, and momentum. While many people do not know the difference between the two, speed and velocity are not the same measurement. Speed measures how fast something is going, while velocity also indicates its direction.

gravityequation.png

G-Force stands for gravitational force and represents the normal force of gravity on the Earth’s surface

The most useful of these measurements to a reporter is average speed, which is calculated by dividing the distance traveled by the time it took to get there. Ending velocity can be found by doing the following equation: (Acceleration x time)/Starting velocity. It is also important to know the difference between weight and mass for all of these equations. Mass is an object’s total amount of matter while weight is dependent on the gravitational force pulling the object towards Earth (or any other planet). Next is momentum, which is the force necessary to stop an object from moving. All moving objects have momentum, which is a product of mass and velocity (mass x velocity).

Practice Problems:

  1. Charlie drove for 2 hours at a constant speed of 65/mph. How far did Charlie travel?
  2. Considering the gravitational force of Earth and the gravitational force of the Moon, would an object have more mass on Earth or the Moon?

Chapter 10: Area Measurements

Measurement statistics pop up in all kinds of news stories and knowing how to express measurements in an accurate, clear way is vital to good journalism.  There are two ways to explain measurements, one is analogy (The casino is as big as a football field) and the other is with simple, accurate numbers (472 square feet). The perimeter is the total distance around the edge of a square or a rectangle and can be found simply by adding up the length of all the sides. The area is the number of unit squares that can be contained within a square or a rectangle and is found by multiplying an object’s length by its width. The radius of a circle is the distance from any point on the edge of the circle to the exact center. The circumference of a circle is the distance around the circle. It is the circle’s perimeter. The circumference can be found with the following formula: 2π x radius.

Practice Problems:

  1. A rectangle has one side with a length of 8 inches and another with a length of 10 inches. What is the perimeter of the rectangle? The area?
  2. An object has a perimeter of 56 inches, if the object is a square, what is the length of each side?

Chapter 11: Volume Measurements

Volume measurements play a key role in many articles because they can be used to provide the public with invaluable information. How many tons of rock salt does a town need to handle a rough winter/ How much salt can each truck hold? All sorts of important details like these can add important context to articles. First, there are liquid 5d9296b2d4e99ba46b25e7528b79b64ameasurements. Some of the most common liquid measurement conversions that one might need in the kitchen or elsewhere can be found to the right. To find the volume of a rectangular object (must be 3D), you multiply the length of the object by the width of the object by the height of the object. Some common units of measurement:

  • Cord: A common measurement of firewood. 128 cubic feet when the wood is “neatly stacked in a line/row” = 1 cord
  • Ton: There are three different types of tons, a short ton = 2,000 pounds, a long ton/a “British ton” = 2,240 pounds, and a metric ton = 1,000 kilograms (2,204.62 pounds)

Practice Problems:

  1. How many ounces are in 6 gallons? 10 gallons?
  2. How many milliliters are in a quart?

Chapter 12: Metric System

In America, many people think the metric system is silly. This is either because they simply don’t understand it, or they just like their way of measuring things better, sometimes both. Unfortunately, basically the entire rest of the world uses the metric system, so as journalists we must have a good grasp of it. The international decimal-based metric system is based on multiples of 10, and every measurement uses standard language for each level (giga, mega, milli, micro, etc.) Once you learn the language, it becomes simple to use the metric system. Because the metric system is based on the decimal system, users can change from one unit to another by multiplying or dividing by 10, 100, 1,000 or other multiples of 10. Each unit is 10 times as large as the next smallest unit. The unit names are meter (length), gram (mass) and liter (volume).

Prefixes can create larger or smaller factors, the prefixes and their values are:

  • c7d59ef951f046118c874cc6727806b0Micro (1 millionth) 0.000001
  • Milli (1 thousandth) 0.001
  • Centi (1 hundredth) 0.01
  • Deci (1 tenth) 0.1
  • No prefix 1.0
  • Deka 10
  • Kilo 1,000
  • Mega 1,000,000
  • Giga 1,000,000,000
  • Tera 1,000,000,000,000

To convert American lengths to metric, multiply:

  • Inches by 25.4 to find millimeters or 2.5 to find centimeters
  • Feet by 30 to find centimeters or 0.3 to find meters
  • Yards by 90 to find centimeters or 0.9 to find meters
  • Miles by 1.6 to find kilometers

To convert metric lengths to American, multiply:

  • Millimeters by 0.04 to find inches
  • Centimeters by 0.4 to get inches
  • Centimeters by 0.033 to get feet
  • Meters by 39 to find inches
  • Meters by 3.3 to find feet
  • Meters by 1.1 to find yards
  • Kilometers by 0.62 to find miles

conversion between metric and us customary systems

To convert American area measurements to metric, multiply:

  • Square inches by 6.5 to find square centimeters
  • Square feet by 0.09 to find square meters
  • Square yards by 0.8 to find square meters
  • Square miles by 2.6 to find square kilometers
  • Acres by 0.4 to find hectares

To convert American mass measurements to metric, multiply:

  • Ounces by 28 to find grams
  • Pounds by 0.45 to find kilograms
  • Pounds by 0.07 to find stones
  • Short tons by 0.9 to find metric tons

Practice Problems:

  1. 50 pounds is how many kilograms? Stones?
  2. Jimmy buys 20 acres of land, when his mom, who lives in England, asks him how much land he bought, he has to tell her using a unit of metric measurement, what should she tell her?

Answers to Practice Problems:

Chapter 9: 1. 130 miles 2. The problem cannot be solved with the given information. Mass doesn’t change based on a planet’s gravitational force, only weight does.

Chapter 10: 1. Perimeter = 36 Area = 80 2. 28 inches

Chapter 11: 1. 768 ounces and 1,280 ounces 2. 960 millileters

Chapter 12: 1. 22.5 kilograms and 3.5 stones 2. He should tell her that he bought 8 hectares of land

Elon Hosts Holocaust Remembrance Day

By Matt Holzapfel

Elon University hosted play readings as part of Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday, April 24 at 12:15 P.M. in the McBride Gathering Space as part of the “National Jewish Theater Foundation’s Holocaust Theater International Initiative Remembrance Readings 2017 in honor of author Elie Wiesel.”

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Participants from the Holocaust Remembrance Readings in 2016 from njtfoundation.org

Elon joins other schools and organizations from around the country who will participate in the event simultaneously. Previously, all organizations involved read different pieces of literature on this day (the event started in 2015 and a complete list of participants and the plays that they read can be found here), this year, however, each organization that participates will be reading plays from author Elie Wiesel’s “Dialogs”, which contains a series of short plays.

KimShively

“Theatre is a very communal experience that has the power to build unity.” — Professor Kim Shively

Kim Shively is an Acting Professor in Elon’s Department of Preforming Arts and was responsible for organizing and bringing this event to Elon. “This is the first time Elon has participated (in this event). I saw an invitation for universities, theaters and organizations to participate on the ATHE website (Association of Theatre in Higher Education),” said Shively. “I immediately responded and began planning the event. Remembering the Holocaust is very important to me, and as an actor and teacher, I have been privileged to experience the power of theatre in exploring important themes in a very personal way. It is even more profound that we will be joining other theatres and synagogues and communities across the country in honoring Elie Wiesel and his considerable contributions to the world as an author and a playwright.”

Following the readings and reflections this afternoon, there was a panel discussion on “the importance of remembrance” with panelists Assistant Professor of History Andrea Sinn and Associate Chaplain for Jewish Life Rabbi Meir Goldstein. The panel will be moderated by Assistant Professor of Theatre Susanne Shawyer. “I love the way it connects people to one another,” Shively said of theatre. “I hope that the students and members of the Elon family will come together and honor the victims of the Holocaust. Remembering is such an important part of our human existence and at this particular moment in history, I think the lessons of the Holocaust are as relevant as ever. Many people paid too high a cost and we owe it to ourselves and future generations to find opportunities to ritualize remembrance and continue to learn the lessons from these defining events in our history.”

elie-wiesel1Elie Wiesel was born in Romania and was a Jewish-American writer, professor, and political activist. He wrote 57 books, including “Night”, which is an internationally acclaimed memoir based on his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. In May 1944, the Nazis deported Wiesel, just 15 years old then, and his family to Auschwitz, a concentration camp located in Poland. Wiesel’s mother and the youngest of his three sisters all died while at Auschwitz. He and his father were later moved to another camp, Buchenwald, located in Germany, where Wiesel’s father died only a few months before the camp was liberated by Allied troops in April 1945. Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor and spoke at Elon in April of 2004.

More information on the National Jewish Theater Foundation’s Holocaust Theater International Initiative Remembrance Readings can be found at www.njtfoundation.org/in_remembrance. For questions regarding the event, you can email Kim Shively at kshively@elon.edu.

The Abridged Math Tools for Journalists: A Briefing Part Two

By Matt Holzapfel

This part of the Abridged Math Tools for Journalists Series will be focused on Chapters 5-8 of the book “Math Tools for Journalists” by Kathleen Woodruff Wickham.

Chapter 5: Polls and Surveys

“Polls and surveys are as much a part of the American landscape as elections and Fourth of July parades.” Dramatic? Sure, but not necessarily untrue. Polls and surveys offer a glimpse of public opinion, though they are often skewed one way or another. It is the reporter’s job to help readers understand the validity of the polls and surveys that they are reading about.

Polls are an estimate of public opinion on a single topic or question, and they are most commonly used in political circles. Some basic things to consider when thinking about the validity of the poll:

  • The name and background of the pollster or polling organization
  • Who paid for the poll
  • How and when the poll was conducted
  • The exact wording of the questions
  • The size of the sample and the response rate
  • The method used to select the sample
  • The margin of error
  • The relationship of the poll to any news event that might have an effect on the results

There are several methods for selecting sample groups for polls and surveys, among those are census (sampling everyone in a population), cluster (sampling in one area or region identified by ZIP codes, counties or other well-defined areas), multistage (selecting a geographic area, then randomly selecting sub-groups), systematic random sampling (selecting a specific number, ex: 10, then taking every 10th person from a phone book or directory and polling them), quota (select the sample based on known demographic characteristics), and probability (putting all of the potential subjects in a hat and drawing out a designated number).image_thumb[8]

Next, we must consider margin of error. The margin of error indicates the degree of accuracy of research based on standard dorms. The more people polled, the smaller the possible error, and the smaller margin of error. Another thing to consider is confidence level, which is a bit more complicated than margin of error but goes right to the heart of accurate reporting. Confidence level is be defined as the level, or percentage, at which researchers have confidence in their results. The formal definition is the probability of obtaining a given result by choice. Another thing that journalists must be knowledgeable about is z-scores and t-scores, z-scores are also called “standard scores”, and they show how much a particular figure differs from the mean. The formula for z-score is (Raw score – mean)/Standard Deviation. T-scores are similar, but slightly more complicated, for more information on t-scores, click here.

Practice Problems: Pick the correct term to use in each sentence

  1. (Census/Cluster) sampling involves sampling everyone in a population.
  2. (Multistage/Systematic random) sampling involves picking a random number and using a phone book or directory or similar item to poll every Xth person.
  3. (Quota/Probability) sampling involves putting all of the potential subjects in a hat and drawing out a designated percentage.

Chapter 6: Business

Business news is often big news, and few beats contain as much math as the business beat. Some examples of business news are press releases, quarterly earnings reports, and annual reports. Financial statements are formal documents that are available to shareholders, regulatory agencies and other stakeholders interested in a company’s performance. These documents include quantitative statements about a company’s business transactions. Profit and loss statements show whether or not a company is making money. A business has many different expenses. The phrase “cost of goods sold”

Versatility is key. The ability to write long and short, about news and people, about facts and experience, and for newspapers or new media is essential. (4)

Graphic by Matt Holzapfel (canva.com)

refers to the direct expenses a business incurs in making or buying its products. “Gross margin” is the difference between the cost of goods sold and the selling price. Next, there are balance sheets, sections that appear on balance sheets are listed to the right. Next, there is a formula called “current ratio”. Current ratio is found by taking all the current assets and dividing them by all the current liabilities. Current ratio measures the ability of a company to meet (pay back) its liabilities. Other formulas in this chapter are quick ratio (cash/current liabilities), debt-to-asset ratio (total debt/total assets), debt-to-equity ratio (total debt/equity), return on assets (net income/total assets), return on equity (net income/equity), and price-earnings ratio (market price per share/earnings per share).

Practice Problems:

  1. What is the formula for Return on Equity? Return on Assets?
  2. If Tag Media has $57 million in cash and $102 million in current liabilities, what is the company’s Quick Ratio?
  3. If you want to know how deeply a company is leveraged by comparing what is owed to what is owned, which formula should you use?

Chapter 7: Stocks and Bonds

Stocks and bonds are two important ways that businesses raise money. Bonds are often used by the government to raise money. Understanding the basic numbers behind these “cash-raising instruments” is important for a journalist. Stocks are sold by corporations who want to raise cash. People buy stocks when they want to invest in a company. When someone buys a stock, they become a part owner of the company, since so many shares of stocks are sold, however, each share represents only a tiny portion of ownership. Corporations and governments raise money by selling bonds. A bond is basically a loan stocks-vs-bondsfrom an investor to the government or other organization selling the bond. Bonds earn interest at a set rate and are generally low-risk investments. The “face value” of the bond is the amount the owner of the bond will receive at maturity. The catch on bonds is, investors often sell bonds on the open market before they mature and even though the face value and interest rate remain the same, the value of the bond on the open market fluctuates with supply and demand. As a reporter, you may be more interested in calculating the actual cost of a bond issued by a municipality. (Bond cost = amount x rate x years).

Practice Problems:

  1. Are stocks owned or loaned?
  2. T/F: Bonds are high-risk

Chapter 8: Property Taxes

PropertyTaxProperty taxes are the largest single source of income for local governments, school districts, and other municipal organizations. They pay for supplies, salaries, maintenance costs, and just about every other day-to-day expense there is. Articles about property taxes often make the front page, understanding how property taxes often make the front page, and how understanding how property taxes are calculated is important for journalists. The property tax rate is determined by taking the total amount of money the governing body needs and dividing that among the property owners in the taxing district. How much each owner pays is based on the value of his/her property. The first kind of tax is a Mill levy. To find the Mill levy rate, divide taxes to be collected by the governing body by assessed valuation of all property in the taxing district. To find appraisal value, we must consider the property’s use, characteristics including location, square footage and the number of stories, and current market conditions as determined by sales in the immediate area over a specific number of years. The assessed value of a property depends on local policies which can mean credits and other adjustments. The formula for assessed value is appraisal value times rate. Lastly, to calculate tax owed, we multiply tax rate by (the assessed value of the property/$100).

Practice Problems:

  1. What is the formula for assessed value?
  2. T/F: Property taxes are the largest single source of income for local governments

Answers to Practice Problems:

Chapter 5: 1. Census 2. Systematic Random 3. Probability

Chapter 6: 1. Net income/Equity and Net income/Total assets 2. 0.559 3. Debt-to-equity ratio

Chapter 7: 1. Owned 2. False

Chapter 8: 1. Appraisal value x rate 2. True

The Abridged Math Tools for Journalists: A Briefing Part One

By Matt Holzapfel

This part of the Abridged Math Tools for Journalists Series will be focused on Chapters 1-4 of the book “Math Tools for Journalists” by Kathleen Woodruff Wickham.

Chapter 1: The Language of Numbers

“Numbers are precise” the book starts. While many journalists may think that entering the professional world of communications means they will never have to pick up a calculator or protractor again, they’re not wrong. They will, however, need to be able to understand and accurately include numbers in their reporting. These numbers can and will vary from dollar values to test scores, from pollution statistics to standard deviation statistics, and so much more.

Add subheading (1)The first subsection of this chapter details some style tips to get your number-incorporated writing into gear. It also lays out some tips for writing numbers and language with numbers and statistics. For example, you should always do the math for your readers. If they have to do it themselves, they may lose interest and not see the math as worth their time. For slang expressions such as “thanks a million” or “I owe you one”, always write out the numbers in those expressions. If there are results to display, interpret those results in terms that the reader can understand, try using analogies, storytelling techniques or graphics to “illustrate the numbers.” The chapter also provides some writing and language tips, such as when to use among vs when to use between, compared to vs compared with and different from vs different then. What an interesting way to combine math and grammar to make journalism. Some final tips from the chapter, avoid the word “fold” in terms “five-fold increase” as it could be confusing for readers. Use higher and lower when describing temperatures as opposed to warmer and colder.

Practice Problems: Pick the correct term to use in each sentence

  1. Dave’s car is (farther/further) away than my car
  2. The temperature was much (warmer/higher) yesterday
  3. This car’s gas tank is only (one-quarter/ 1/4) as big as the other car.

Chapter 2: Percentages

Percent-Increase1.pngOften times, journalists are faced with numbers that could be more clearly explained if they were converted to percentages. Because of this, it is important for reporters to know how to turn numbers and ratios into percentages. There are three most common uses of percentages in journalism: percentage increase/decrease, percentage of the whole, and percentage points. The first one, increases and decreases in percentage is fairly simple, to find it we take the old number and subtract it from the new number, then take that difference and divide by the old number. Next, there are percentages of a whole. To find that we take the subgroup number and divide it by the whole group number. Examples of this statistic are: finding out what percentage of a budget was used for a certain event/item, finding the percentage of students at a school who fit certain criteria or figuring out the percentage of baseball games on a certain day that were televised. These are only a few examples out of millions that percentages can be used for. The third and final use of percentages in journalism is percentage points. It is important to distinguish between percent and percentage point. One percent is one one-hundredth of something, while one percentage point is seen, for example, if a company holds 5 percent of the market for a product, but then loses one percentage point and its new market share is 4 percent.

Practice Problems:

  1. The average salary for local law enforcement officers was raised from $45,000 to $52,500. What is the percentage increase of the average salary?
  2. I had $250 dollars to spend, I spent $70 on a textbook for my journalism class, what percentage of my money did I spend?
  3. The unemployment rate fell from 8% to 4.7% over the last 3 years. By how many percentage points did the unemployment rate decrease?

Chapter 3: Statistics

statisticsBehind percentages, statistics are reporters most common interaction with numbers. Common statistics found in reports are crime rates, the average cost of food at the grocery store, school student test scores and much more. Statistics are often used in research to make accurate inferences about a certain topic. It is important that journalists have a basic understanding of statistics and the role played by the manipulation of numbers. Journalists are often asked to evaluate surveys and studies, and unless they know how the numbers were used they cannot report accurately on the results. The first statistic is Mean, which is the average of a set of numbers. Next, there is Median, the midpoint in the group of numbers. Lastly, there is the Mode. The mode is simply the number that occurs most often in a number set. Another statistic that doesn’t usually go along with mean, median and mode is percentile. A percentile is a number that represents the percentage of scores that fall at or below the designated score. For example, a test-taker with a score in the 75th percentile knows that 75 percent of those who took the test scored lower than he did. To find percentile rank for test scores, take the number of people below an individual score and divide it by the total number of test takers. Lastly, there is standard deviation. Standard deviation simply tells us how much a group of figures varies from the norm. A high standard deviation means there are inconsistent results, and a low standard deviation means that the figures are consistently grouped around the mean.

Practice Problems:

  1. Find the mean, median, and mode for the following number set:
    1. 15, 30, 7, 28, 74, 16, 50, 30

Chapter 4: Federal Statistics

unemployment-inflation-trade-off-78-11

A chart detailing unemployment and inflation in the United States from 1978 to 2011.

The federal government provides a constant stream of information of interest to the public, from inflation figures to unemployment numbers. Reporters should understand where these numbers come from and how they can be used. Unemployment is reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate is defined as the percentage of the labor force that is unemployed and actively seeking work. Next, there are inflation and Consumer Price Index numbers. Inflation is an issue that journalists frequently face, and it is measured by the Consumer Price Index. Inflation is a general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money.

Practice Problems:

  1. What was the GDP for the United States for 2005? For 2008?

 

Answers to Practice Problems:

Chapter 1: 1. Farther  2. Higher  3. One-quarter

Chapter 2: 1. 16.67%  2. 28%  3. 3.3 percentage points

Chapter 3: 1. Mean = 31.25 Median = 29 Mode = 30

Chapter 4: 2005 = $13.09 trillion  2008 = $14.72 trilion

 

Elon Junior Christine Lane Debuts in History Channel Original Series “Six”

By Matt Holzapfel

Christine Lane only appeared in three episodes of “Six”. She’s listed 37th on the cast list on IMDb, and not many people outside of her family and friends will ever think twice about her appearance in the Action-Drama-History mini-series. But don’t tell her that.

“This whole experience has felt like a dream,” Lane told me. “I shot the show over the summer, and then went back to school in the fall; I was so busy with my classes and work at Elon, that until SIX’s premiere, it really felt like I made the show up.”

poster

The poster for History Channel’s new original series “Six”

Six” is a television series inspired by the missions of the U.S. Navy SEAL unit (SEAL Team Six) known for killing Osama bin Laden. It was created by father-son duo William and David Broyles and stars Barry Sloane, Kyle Schmid, and Juan Pablo Raba.

“I was in choir when I was young, which led to school musicals, but I was always more involved in sports than the arts,” said Lane when I asked how she first got into acting. “I got injured in high school, had to quit my teams, and suddenly had the time to explore acting. I couldn’t get enough of it. That passion kept growing and led to an education in professional acting.”

Christine had been with an agency and had auditioned for roles in TV and movie productions ever since she was in high school. “When I first booked Marissa, I thought it was only for episode five,” Christine explained. “A few weeks later I got the email that I was written into the finale. I read the secret last scene and completely lost my mind. It was unreal! And the surprise aspect of it was taken so seriously. After we shot the last episode, Walton Goggins and I had to turn in our copies of the script so they could be shredded. We were the only two actors who knew how the series really ended- the rest of the cast got sent a phony script that ended with Rip smiling on the pier! Seeing the reactions on social media from the other cast members and fans of the show was so much fun.”

What Lane is referring to is how she was responsible for carrying out the Season 1 finale’s cliffhanger ending with fellow actor Walton Goggins, who plays Richard “Rip” Taggart.

So how has her newfound stardom affected her life at Elon? “Apart from my close friends being really excited for me when my episodes aired, nothing at school has really changed,” said Lane enthusiastically. “All kinds of performing arts majors at Elon experience professional success while still in school, so this wasn’t seen as a terribly groundbreaking event.” Maybe not, but it’s not every day you hear about your fellow student playing an important role in a hit TV series, even at such a high-achieving school like Elon.

So is this a long-term profession in the making, or just a short-term thing for fun?

cLane

Check out Christine’s IMDb page here, it may not be extensive…..yet

“Professional, full-time acting is the goal,” she said. “Elon’s BFA Acting program trains us to be working, successful actors out in the real world and I hope to use my education to build a lifelong career of performing.” What advice would Christine give to aspiring actors who want to break onto the scene just as she has? “I’d tell them that doing your best work and hoping for the best is all you can do,” she answered. “So much of this industry is based on luck- learning from every experience, devoting yourself to the process, knowing that failures happen more than success, and loving it passionately regardless of all these things is the best position you can put yourself in.”

As for Christine’s character Marissa, can we expect to see her return in Season 2 of “Six”? “No news that I can disclose yet,” she said. “But tune in and find out!”

To watch full episodes of “Six”, click here.