An Open Letter to NTV Viewers

Central Nebraskans and NTV viewers everywhere:

A little over two years ago I pulled a UHaul out of my parents driveway in O’Fallon, Mo. My then fiancé and I both knew we might never live in St. Louis again.

Even when you’ve spent months making your peace with it that’s a hard reality as a 20-something.

It’s one of the toughest parts of this business. Telling sports stories is an incredible thrill and an awesome privilege. But the price is high. You go where you’re invited.

So I left my soon to be wife teary eyed in my parents driveway. Wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone. Dropping my parents at the Lincoln airport later that weekend wasn’t much easier. It was a lonely walk back to the car.

On the other end of those goodbyes my life as an NTV sportscaster began. Five months after I arrived in Kearney Emiley and I got married, and she followed me on the Platte.

Since then we’ve grown. In fact, we’ve grown a lot. Some times through hurt — other times through jubilee. Always for the better.

Throughout I’ve had Nebraska as my creative playground. You’ve let me take you a lot of places. The stories will stay with me forever. It’s been the time of my professional life finding out what makes you tick. 

Still, Emiley and I wondered what was next, and of course, would we ever make it home?

Last Friday the answer came. Home called.

The Cardinals are to St. Louis what the Huskers are to Nebraska. For me their stories are the top of the mountain. Emiley and I have been invited to the summit.

Next month I’m joining my hometown Cardinals as an in-house multimedia storyteller — contributing content to their cable T.V. and online platforms.

The English language doesn’t have an adequate word to describe my excitement. The Lord has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. However, another emotion had crept in too.

I’m going to miss you.

I came here to chronicle your history. In turn, you ended up shaping mine.

Thanks for inviting me in and opening up. You challenged me, surprised me, and most importantly made me look at the world from a different perspective. I’m better for it.

The saying really is true. On gameday “there’s no place like Nebraska.”

Thank you,

Brett McMillan

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Patience required as UNK starts over

Josh Lynn was introduced as the 18th coach in UNK football history on January 6th, 2017.

Josh Lynn was introduced as the 18th coach in UNK football history on January 6th, 2017.

University of Nebraska-Kearney football desperately needs some stability and some wins. There haven’t been much of either in recent history.

Last week UNK introduced Josh Lynn as head football coach. He is the program’s third coach since 2014. The previous coach, Josh Lamberson, left after two seasons to become the offensive coordinator at Div. I (FCS) Abilene Christian.

Lamberson was 1-21 as a Loper. While on-field results were still coming along, UNK A.D. Paul Plinske said he likes the culture Lamberson instilled. Lynn has similar philosophies to his predecessor.

The program doesn’t appear mismanaged. Sometimes life just happens. No one is at fault for that.

Still, the Mid-American Athletic Conference is home to some of the Div. II’s premiere programs. The Lopers have struggled to compete. Once again UNK is essentially starting from scratch on the field. It’s the second time in three seasons they’ll learn a new playbook.

Lynn comes to Kearney from his alma mater Eastern New Mexico. He says he’ll run the option. It will look different than most MIAA offenses. The idea being novelty is hard to prepare for.

No one deserves instant pressure in a new job. However, it seems like most Loper fans are restless. Lynn deserves time to implement his system. The ramifications of the previous coach leaving after two years will be present, but Lynn isn’t responsible for what he inherits on the field.

Plinske and the athletic department seem ready to weather another transition period. Patience will be key. Lynn deserves some. Administration is ready to grant it. Hopefully the fans are too.

One thing seems certain. UNK needs to make this era count, because the MIAA is unlikely to mellow any time soon.

No justice for Jordan

Nebraska senior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp meets with the media after Nebraska's 62-3 loss at Ohio State on November 5, 2016.

Nebraska senior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp meets with the media after Nebraska’s 62-3 loss at Ohio State on Nov. 5, 2016.

Nebraska junior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp won’t play in the Music City Bowl December 30. Head coach Mike Riley says the Lombard, Ill. native is out with a knee injury. Estimates say he’s a few months from football shape.

Sports can be cruel. This is a kid who has given so much to the program. His senior year has been riddled with injuries, and now he won’t get a final chance to go out with a good showing. Instead, his last performance will be four catches for 50 yards in a blowout regular season finale at Iowa.

NU senior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp watches warm-ups before Nebraska hosted Purdue on October 22, 2016. He missed the game with a back injury.

NU senior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp watches warm-ups before Nebraska hosted Purdue on Oct. 22, 2016. He missed the game with a back injury.

Injury finally caught up with a kid who has optimized hard-nosed football in Lincoln. Nothing seems to scare him. He’s run routes over the middle and face hard questions after blowouts. All of it has been done with class. He’s taken whatever the game can conjures up in stride.

The bowl will be the third game he misses due to injury this year. That combined with a scrappy style of play may keep him from getting drafted. I hope I’m wrong. I also hope that if I’m right he signs as a free agent and has a prolific career in the Wes Welker mold. I hope he gets the final word, and not his bum knee.

The Round Up – Week of October 17, 2016

A well deserved win

As has been mentioned before in this space, the function of a TV sports anchor/reporter is not to root. Telling the whole story completely is the only agenda. That being said, we’re human. When someone you cover is long suffering it is hard not to feel for them. UNK football had lost 17 straight games going into their October 15th game versus Central Oklahoma. They finally got a win. It’s the first for head coach Josh Lamberson since taking over before last season. Lamberson is a top-notch human. I’m not allowed to root on the sideline, but I am allowed to be happy for him when time expires.

This man takes an interest in the well being of his athletes. He remembers details about their family, and makes it a priority to care about their lives off the field. They’re people not players to him. If I had a son I’d want him to play for a guy like Lamberson. He waited nearly two full calendar seasons to get his first victory, and week-to-week he fostered an attitude which produced a positive vibe. If anybody has ever deserved a W it’s him.

A Big Red Surprise

Nebraska football is 6-0 for the first time since 2001. Last time they did this I was in fourth grade, and the they were still in the Big 12. Needless to say, a lot has changed.

The question surrounding this team is: are they as good as that record? I’d contend they can only play who is on their schedule. It’s also not their fault Oregon has fallen off the face of the earth since losing in Lincoln.

Nebraska gets in a pre-game stretch before facing Wyoming earlier this season.

A Husker win this week mean 7-0 heading into back-to-back trips to Wisconsin and Ohio State. Even if they lose both they could still potentially be 7-2 and ranked on the top-25 with three winnable games to close out the schedule. To me, we’ll learn who this team really is by how they handle the aftermath of the Badger-Buckeye trips. If they lose can they gather themselves to finish 10-2? If they win can they avoid getting upset by Maryland, Minnesota, and Iowa? Big Red is worthy of what it’s earned so far. Whether or not they keep that prestige comes down to what they do in the final five games.

Of course, they need to beat Purdue too. If they lose to the interim coached Boilermakers at home it’s a whole different discussion.

Something encouraging

Sometimes I keep Bible verses in my pocket. When I take them out every night they remind me to keep focused on the right things. Right now, Isaiah 61:1-3 is on my sheet. Reading it everyday reminds me what I’m really living for. One passage says the Lord “binds up the broken hearted.” There is so much pain in the world today. It’s important people hear the message that no matter where they’re at, or what their circumstances are, there’s hope. You’re loved by the God who created you. He’ll hold you together when you’re falling apart.

The Round Up – Week of September 30, 2016

Football Fridays

Sutton visits Doniphan-Trumbull for the opening week of the 2016 Nebraska high school football season.

It’s been a fun high school football season. Like, REALLY fun. Every year my love for Friday night lights grows. My high school didn’t have football until my senior year. Even then it was just J.V., so I didn’t really develop an appreciation for the high school game until I got to college. My alma mater, Lindenwood University, did tons of radio and T.V. coverage of the St. Louis high school scene. As a student broadcaster at LU my eyes were opened to just how cool high school football is. My love for the game has accelerated in Nebraska. There is unbelievable energy when an entire town shows up for a football game. This state is famous for its college team, but the high school climate here is one of America’s hidden sports gems.

The Nebraska State Fair

At the beginning of the month I shot some volleyball at the Nebraska State Fair. It was only the second time I’ve ever been to a state fair. The first time was last summer when I went out for an NTV promotional event. Growing up in St. Louis, Mo. we never really thought about the Missouri state fair in Sedalia. That seemed like a world away from my suburban existence. Discovering the Americana at Nebraska’s fair has been a treat. There are monkeys riding dogs like little horses, carnival rides, and performers all over the place. Here in Nebraska they do a great job of bringing in some quality concerts too. I mean we’re talking Grammy Award winners. The whole thing is fun.

Speaking of the Fair…

The Roadhouse burger is a favorite from Cactus Jack’s at the Nebraska State Fair.

This bad boy was lunch on Saturday. Yes, it’s as good as it works. The Nebraska State Fair has every greasy and deep fried food item you could possibly think of. It’s your arteries’ worst nightmare. One of the most famous vendors is named Cactus Jack’s. They specialize in bar-b-que, burgers, and nachos. Saturday I had the Roadhouse burger. It’s topped with gorgonzola cheese, bacon, onion straws, and blue cheese mayo. Yeah, blue cheese mayo. If there were a rewind button on life I’d have eaten it twice.

The Round Up – Week of February 29, 2016

A Heavy Load…

Health and Sports Center

The UNK women warm-up before Tuesday’s MIAA tournament game versus SBU. The 75-46 victory is the program’s first post-season win since 2009.

One of the most misunderstood facts about sportscasters is that we don’t root for, or against, teams we cover. It’s bad journalism ethics. However, we often develop respect for the genuinely good people we work with. After sticking a mic in someone’s face over-and-over you start to get at least some picture of who they are as a person.

A guy I’ve come to respect a lot UNK men’s basketball forward Connor Beranek. He seems to have a mature approach to the game, and life. The Ravenna native was second in the MIAA in scoring this season with over 24 points a game. That alone great, but the back story adds another level. Beranek is part of a big time basketball family in central Nebraska. They lost their patriarch, Paul, to cancer just a few days before Christmas.  Connor still put together a season which landed him on the All-MIAA team this week.While balancing school and a high level of play this college student also  had to soak up the last few precious months with his dad. I don’t know how he did it, and it’s been humbling to watch.

Laramey Becker made all-MIAA on the women’s side. She has taken on a lot during her senior season. In just one year she will have gotten married, led the Loper women to their first playoff win since 2009, and tackled a senior’s academic course load. I’ve done two of those three and can’t imagine what it would take to do them simultaneously.

Sick and Tired of Sick and Tired…

Winter time in mid-America isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s grey and cold. Plus, you’re basically going to get the plague for at least a three-day stretch. It’s not if. It’s when. My wife and I both drew the short straw this weekend. I’ve decided February is incubator month.

Practice in Pajamas…

Husker spring football started up this week. Literally and figuratively it isn’t the hardest hitting part of the calendar, but after the unique course last season took this spring seems like an important segment of the year for Big Red. Lots of questions to get answered in Mike Riley’s second spring go-around in Lincoln. One such question, who is going to step up on the offensive line? We’ve got something on the top on nebraska.tv.

This weekend on NTV Sports…

  • Girls’ State Basketball 
    • We’ll have girls state basketball Friday for sure, and as long as someone reaches a final, Saturday too.
  • MIAA Tournament
    • The UNK men and women will play in K.C. The Ladies take on Missouri Western Thursday. The Men meet Northwest Missouri Saturday.
  • Loper baseball
    • Rejoice! College baseball live in the Tri-Cities. Highlights all weekend on NTV News.

 

The Round Up – Week of February 14, 2016

1) Read of the week…

Tom Shatel’s sit down with Husker Head Coach Mike Riley has some interesting quotes from coach regarding his approach entering year two. Since Riley took over in November 2014 he has praised the state of Nebraska’s

Mike Riley addresses the media after a 2015 Nebraska home game.

Mike Riley addresses the media after a 2015 Nebraska home game.

football culture. However, since he got to NU there’s been a school of thought which says he might not 100 percent understand what he signed up for. It’s one thing to admire the state’s big expectations. It’s another to understand what it’ll take to hit the mark as a Husker. The last time I was in a Riley presser was during bowl prep in late December. He talked about team athleticism and speed needing to increase top to bottom. He also said he looked forward evaluating the whole team. Those words appear not to be hollow. Hank Hughes was let go. Dispatching an assistant after one season says Riley knows the status quo wasn’t going to be enough moving forward. There also seems to be an acknowledgement that those crazy loses could have been avoided with plays made earlier in games. Will Riley’s openness to tweaks automatically equal more wins? No, but it can hurt.

2) A food thought…

Sauce doesn’t make a restaurant, but it sure can put one over the edge. If you haven’t had Cane’s sauce at Raising Canes you need to get there. It’s got a little pepper with a tang comparable to the fry sauce at Freddy’s. Add in the Texas toast, crinkle cut fries, and lightly breaded chicken strips and you’ve got something going. Plus, they’ve got Coke and sweet tea with pellet ice. There’s nothing to dislike here.

3) To the mats…

Omaha hosts the Nebraska high school championships this weekend. Wrestling certainly is less understood than the mainstay sports (basketball, football, baseball, etc). Great stories still exist though, and some always get kicked up as we approach state.  As part of our preview coverage this week, I talked with Central City senior wrestler Jeremiah Dickinson. He’s undefeated, after getting third and second at state the past two years. Most of his summer was spent on the Bison’s wrestling deck. Regardless of how he fares, it’s hard not to be impressed by a 17 or 18 year old who is so disciplined.

Events to note this weekend…

State Wrestling

  • Omaha, Thursday-Saturday
  • We’ll have highlights all three days on NTV and reaction on Sunday too. Tons of area story lines. Can Amherst win another team title? Does the aforementioned Dickinson stay perfect? Grand Island Senior High seems to be legit in Class A. Can they start another streak? We’ll know answers to those questions and others by Saturday night.

Storm Home Stand

  • Friday, 7:30pm Sioux Falls @ Tri-City
  • Saturday, 7:05pm Omaha @ Tri-City.
  • The Storm are finally coming home. Six straight on the road now giving way to five at home. They can win a third straight against Sioux Falls Friday to really zap the Stampede’s momentum. Saturday might be even bigger. Omaha trails Tri-City in the standings. A win would be another big shot of mojo for T.C., and would stall the Lancers’ push a little bit.

UNK Men’s Basketball

  • Saturday, 4:00pm Lindenwood @ UNK
  • It was close earlier this season in St. Charles. As I write this theses two are tied for second in the MIAA, and they’re back-to-back in the region too. Needless to say, this one’s important.

If you want to share your thought feel free to reach out on Twitter at @NTVBrett.

Thanks for reading.

The Digital Divide

The digital divide is a topic of conversation among tech geeks and economist alike. Access to technology is so

Photo by zaccrain

Photo by zaccrain

important in the modern world. Almost everything occurs online. Applying for jobs, paying bills, and scheduling social events happens on the Internet. So if an individual doesn’t have adequate access to the web they can be isolated toward the edges of society.

Some say that efforts to expand technology to the third world is a valiant effort to bring all of humanity to the same level. Others say cyber cafes ruin work ethics across the world, because technology is used for recreation and not self promotion. Both those thoughts are understandable. What good is a tool that isn’t used properly?

However the issue with the latter argument is that people have a choice about how they spend their time. They can choose how to use technology that can be used for frivolous activities or work. Both activities are good and it is up to the user to balance how they use them.

If people, domestic or abroad, do not have the access to technology clearly that is not their fault. It makes sense for others with the resources to try and help them by providing access to technology so they can participate in society. But, if people misuse what they are given only they are accountable.

A computer can be used for finishing homework, or playing games on the Internet all night. The decision of which activity takes precedence falls on the user.

Industry Issues Blog Number Four

The Setup

Video is now a center piece of journalism. It has become what written stories were before the 1950s: the king of mainstream media. Any respectable news outlet includes media on its website. Multi-media, specifically video, is not an option any longer. It is a requirement.

The use of video opens up a wide variety of options and issues for the modern journalist. Two articles recently released by journalism websites, NewsLab and Advancing the Story , explain the pitfalls and advantages of video use.

Using Video Online

Using video on the Internet can greatly enhance a media outlet’s ability to hyper-customize its viewers. An article that recently was published on NewsLab details how NBC is doing this with some of its online pages. It is custom making videos just for the web. Some outlets have been placing content online which they originally put out over the air. In fact, this is a common place practice. However, making web-original content is something that is fairly new.

The benefits to this is that it gives companies something to tease on their over the air broadcast and vice versa. They can use special online content to direct viewers to their main programming.

Fair Use?

One site that has been home to original content for years is YouTube. After major events take place video often goes up on YouTube. This happened after the Boston Marathon bombings.

The ethical questions about using video off the Internet is examined in a recent Advancing the Story article. Many news outlets will take video off the Internet to use in their nightly newscast if they are not able to get their own video.

As mentioned above, this happened in the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. News stations across the country obviously were not in Boston and did not know that the event would be occurring. Most of the footage immediately available came from cellphone footage which was uploaded from the scene. News stations everywhere were pulling it off the web and putting it into their news rundowns.

The Issue

YouTube technically owns a stake in the content that is uploaded by its users. The users also sometimes claim rights in lawsuits.

The issue with a news station taking down footage off the net is that they don’t own it. This is a issue when lawsuits come into play. Since the stations do not own it they cannot claim that it is there. At the same time, those who upload the content have relinquished some of their privileges as the original shooter. This conundrum is an issue.

Conclusion

Video has changed the landscape of modern journalism. It has forever altered not only the over the air part of the industry, but also the online component. That aspect of the industry is growing and video use is growing right along with it.

Video is enhancing websites and causing issues for news stations who pull video off the Internet to use on the air. Often they can get away with it, but not always.

Video is an asset that can make or break a journalist.

LUTV Blog Reporter Blog Six

The conclusion of the semester is coming quickly at LUTV. I’ve learned a lot during the Super Semester. There have been some great experiences. When I think about all the hands-on experience I have gotten it is kind of mind blowing.

Since the last time I filed a reporter blog there have been some really significant news events and some fun experiences.

LUTV NFL Draft Show

LUTV Draft Show host Mike Morgan watches a monitor as other members of the draft show team discuss an upcoming pick behind him.

Photo by Brett McMillan
LUTV Draft Show host Mike Morgan watches a monitor as members of the draft show team behind him discuss an upcoming pick.

 

The night of the first round of the NFL Draft is one of my favorite of the year. LUTV puts on a four hour, live show. It is a lot of fun. There are so many things you have to account for when producing live TV. I was an associate producer this year, and I also had the privilege of sitting on the desk.

There were some intriguing picks this year, and we also had some fun elements for the show. There were awesome graphics, player VOs, and we had an interview with Randy Karraker.

Everyone involved seemed to have a really good time. I love the team atmosphere of draft night. The pace is also tons of fun. Everything develops quickly and it is fun to try and keep up with what teams are doing what.

The Daniel Boone Home

I had the chance to go to the Daniel Boone Home in Defiance, Mo. and film a few weeks ago. It was a really neat experience. I’ll be putting together a package on the property shortly after this blog is published. It is a beautiful place. Lindenwood has owned the home and the other historically significant buildings surrounding it since 1998.

The home is approximately 30 to 40 minutes from LU’s St. Charles, Mo. campus. Because it is so far away, a lot of people do not want to make the trip out. The story I’ll be putting together will detail what goes on at the multi-acre property. They do everything from school field trips, to weddings, to hosting Lindenwood classes.

The head tour guide gave me a private tour so I could shoot video for the story. I got to go into parts of the houses most people do not have access to. It was neat to see behind the scenes, because you can see places where families had update the houses over the years. Manny of the houses are older than the state of Missouri itself, but they were all lived in for most of their existence. It is really only recently that they have become museum pieces.

April 17th

I produced the news on Wednesday, April 17th. It was a long day filled with lots of emotions. Two days after the Boston marathon bombings we expected that to be our biggest story. It was a major part of our coverage, but sadly a tragedy closer to home ended up being higher in the A-block.

A Lindenwood freshman named Michael Black died in the early morning hours on April 17th. It was a difficult situation which required several debates in the newsroom about what was okay to report and what wasn’t. I will never forget that day.