Coronavirus school closures bring Jim Tate’s Hall of Fame coaching career to abrupt end – AL.com

Jim Tate knew his Hall of Fame coaching career was coming to an end this spring.

It just came to a halt much quicker than anyone expected.

Tate’s boys and girls teams at Mobile’s St. Paul’s Episcopal School claimed 102 separate AHSAA team championships in track and cross country in his 42 years.

The mandated school closure due to the coronavirus pandemic took away a chance to increase that number this spring.

Tate officially announced his retirement from coaching in January.

“After 52 years overall, I certainly would have wished it could have gone another way, but it just wasn’t meant to be,” he said this week. “You just have to accept it and move on.”

Tate’s career ended almost three months before it normally would have.

“We lost the St. Paul’s relays on March 14,” he said. “We were notified on the 13th that we couldn’t have it. It just escalated from there and now we know we’ve lost the whole season.”

The Outdoor State Track and Field Meets were originally scheduled for April 30-May 2 in Gulf Shores and Cullman. However, Gov. Kay Ivey’s announcement last week that schools would remain closed for the duration of the academic year ended the possibility of high school spring sports returning.

“When the Governor made her announcement last Thursday that she was closing all public schools, I went ahead and emailed the group I work with – the parents, kids and coaches,” Tate said. “I think it hit me then that I had overseen my last practice and coached in my last meet. It was a reality I knew was coming, but the suddenness was clearly unexpected. I got a little emotional and still am, but life goes on. We just have to roll with the punches.”

The St. Paul’s girls teams hold the outdoor record with 25 state titles, including nine in a row from 1989-1997. The boys are second only to rival UMS-Wright with 17 overall outdoor titles. They won five straight from 1992-1996. And those are just Tate’s outdoor team titles. Tate’s girls cross country teams from 1983-1998 famously still hold a national record for most consecutive state titles at 16.

“I feel like I’ve been extremely blessed to have been able to do something I’ve loved and looked forward to every day for 52 years,” he said. “I got to see kids come in after school at 3 p.m. with a smile on their face and do their dead level best to do what I asked them to do in the way I asked them to do it. I will miss that.

“If there is a legacy to what I’ve done, I hope people will say that I was passionate about what I was doing and that I treated everyone fairly.”

Tate already has been inducted into multiple halls of fame, including the NFHS High School Hall of Fame, the AHSAA Athletic Hall of Fame and the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame. AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese has said Tate is what every coach should aspire to be.

“He has led by example,” Savarese said. “He is a great teacher, a great human being, and he made a difference in so many kids’ lives through the sport he loves. He is truly a shining star in the education profession.”

Tate said he is particularly sympathetic for the seniors on his final team.

“I had three or four who had been with me six years,” he said. “They trained every day to be as good as they can be, and I just hate it for them.”

Though he said he first thought the decision to halt athletics early in March might have been premature, he now realizes it was the correct move. It is one that he said won’t mar the end to a distinguished career.

“All things have to come to an end,” he said. “I’m just fortunate that I’ve had a wonderful experience all these years.”

Resources: Follow AL.com’s live updates of coronavirus in Alabama. Find all of our coronavirus stories. Here’s a continuously updated vital information post. A free text-messaging service so you can receive the most urgent coronavirus updates on your cellphone. And ask questions. To sign up, subscribe to Alabama Coronavirus Urgent Alerts. A new weekday newsletter is available. You can subscribe here. Also, download the AL.com mobile app where you can receive on-the-go notifications.

Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.

Motivation, provenance of disinformation is pivotal in news reporting | Stanford News – Stanford Report

Journalists must understand provenance, motivation when reporting disinformation, Stanford researchers urge

Two Stanford scholars discuss strategies for reporters and editors to write about disinformation, leaked material and propaganda in a responsible and timely way.

When confronted with propaganda, disinformation or hacks, journalists face a conundrum: How do they cover the newsworthiness of the story without amplifying extreme or dangerous views?

Andrew Grotto and Janine Zacharia

Scholars Janine Zacharia and Andrew Grotto have written a guide for newsrooms on how to report hacks and disinformation responsibly. (Image credit: Geri Migielicz and Rod Searcey)

To help reporters and editors with this dilemma, two Stanford scholars have created a step-by-step guide that newsrooms can turn to about how to write about these campaigns in a responsible and timely way.

Here, its authors, Janine Zacharia, a seasoned journalist with over two decades of field experience, and Andrew Grotto, a former senior director for cybersecurity policy at the White House, talk about strategies news organizations can take when writing their next story about false, misleading or hacked information.

Zacharia is the Carlos Kelly McClatchy Lecturer in the Department of Communication at the School of Humanities and Sciences. Zacharia has worked for outlets including the Washington Post, Bloomberg News and Reuters. In addition to teaching journalism at Stanford, she researches and writes on the intersection between technology and national security, media trends and foreign policy.

Grotto is director of the Program on Geopolitics, Technology and Governance and the William J. Perry International Security Fellow at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center. He is also a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. He served as the senior director for Cyber Policy on the National Security Council in both the Obama and the Trump White House.

Zacharia and Grotto are part of the Center for International Security and Cooperation’s Information Warfare Working Group that discusses and provides recommendations for combatting disinformation. Their guide came out of this effort.

What inspired you to come up with these specific recommendations for journalists?

Zacharia: Journalists are grappling with the conundrum of how to cover stories involving propaganda without giving oxygen to the false or misleading content that underlies it. It is one of the signature ethical challenges facing contemporary journalism, with implications for not only the profession but for the quality and durability of democratic discourse. Though the problem is widely recognized among reporters, there is an unmet need within the profession for leadership.

 

What is one thing you hope journalists will learn from the guide?

Zacharia: To recognize that they are targets for propaganda campaigns and to focus on the “why” of a story, not only the “what.” The details of the next hack, for example, could be juicy and reporters will be anxious to beat the competition. They need to pause and try to be first, responsibly. We also want news organizations – the businesses that employ and manage journalists – to understand that the recommendations we put forward are not self-executing and that journalists will be hard-pressed to implement them unless they get a strong and clear signal from the leadership at their news organizations.

How did you devise these ten recommendations?

Zacharia: We were inspired by what we were discussing in our Stanford Information Warfare Working Group, which enabled us to understand the psychology of how people receive information that is false but still accords with their beliefs. Our deep dive into how Russia, in 2016, manipulated the media gave urgency to the project. Blending that with an understanding of the fundamentals of journalism helped us come up with a preliminary list of recommendations, which we continued to revise over the past six months after consulting with more experts and reporters.

Is there anything you hope readers/news consumers can also learn from these guidelines?

Zacharia: An appreciation for the tensions that news organizations face between being first to report and upholding ethical standards. A deeper understanding of how credible fact-based journalism works. Readers of the report can also urge leadership from news organizations, especially the majors, in this realm.

What is the difference between disinformation, hacks and propaganda? And what do they share in common? 

Grotto: There are subtle but important differences among these terms. Disinformation, for example, is false information purposefully distributed to deceive, whereas a hack involves breaking into a computer and stealing information. The stolen information may then be leaked to embarrass the victim of the theft. A common thread, though, is that the provenance of the information – who’s behind it and what are their motivations? – is critical context for interpreting the information.

How is reporting on these types of campaigns different from covering information that came through Wikileaks or a government whistleblower releasing documents?

Grotto: They present different challenges, but the principles for reporting on them are the same. For example, the provenance of the information is key context regardless of whether it’s a disinformation campaign or leaked documents.

 

As you point out in the guide’s introduction, there are recommendations from other organizations about responsible reporting. What did you feel was missing from the existing literature? What makes your guide unique?

Grotto: We emphasize implementation – how a news organization can bake best practices into their workflows. We also present a streamlined playbook that represents a distillation of what we view as emerging consensus recommendations along with our own insights based on consultations with reporters, editors and researchers in psychology, social science and other disciplines.

What inspired you to partner with each other on this guide?

Zacharia: Andy was part of the White House team dealing with election security in 2016 so he had a rare perspective from the inside as Russia’s attempts to manipulate our democracy were unfolding. He also has expertise in how organizations absorb change and recommendations. It was an extraordinary opportunity for me to marry my journalism experience with his background and try to come up with a way to help the news organizations that play such an important role in our democracy.

Grotto: Her contributions to the Stanford Information Warfare Working Group that we are both members of were consistently incisive and spot on. Her background as a journalist also obviously gives her unique insight into the profession. And the fact that she commands the respect of her peers makes her an influential voice in these debates.

Managing Stress and Emotions When Working Remotely


As COVID-19 continues to spread around the globe, more and more of us are starting to make changes to the way we work. Google, Microsoft, Trader Joe’s, Gap, and United Airlines are among a growing number of U.S. companies that have already acted to address their workers’ most immediate employment concerns stemming from the pandemic, including recommending or requiring employees to work from home, offering more paid sick leave, or maintaining wages in spite of reduced hours.

We’ve spent the past four years studying the science of emotions and their intersection with our lives at work. In our research, we’ve spoken to thousands of remote workers around the world, and from these conversations — and our own personal remote work experiences — we can attest that feeling isolated is common when working from home. Living with uncertainty in the face of a pandemic makes the current situation even more stressful. Here, we’ve pulled together our top tips for both tackling the challenges of remote work and managing stress and difficult emotions.

1. Emotionally proofread your messages. As we move away from face-to-face interactions with coworkers, it’s important to reread your messages for clarity and emotional tone before hitting send. Sending a direct message or email that says “Let’s talk” when you actually mean “These are good suggestions; let’s discuss how to work them into the draft” might bring up unnecessary anxiety for the recipient. If you’re worried about how your tone will come across, pick up the phone or offer to jump on a video chat. Your colleague (who is probably also working from home) might be glad for the chance to talk.

2. Be mindful of time zones. To help people in all time zones feel included, strive to delay decision-making until you’ve heard from everyone who should be involved. This is an especially good time to hone your documentation skills so everyone stays in the loop, and to see if your team could cover some meeting content over email, Slack, or another messaging platform instead. After switching to remote work, Humu, where Liz works, set up a 15-minute companywide meeting every day at 11:45 a.m. PT (which allows for team members on the East Coast and in Europe to join as well), during which the team can fill one another in on important announcements. Everything discussed during the meeting is also sent out afterward in a companywide email.

3. Schedule time for serendipitous collaboration. When we work remotely, we miss out on all the impromptu moments with our colleagues that lead to good ideas: chatting before and after meetings, catching up in the kitchen or hallway, and stopping by each other’s desks. When meeting via phone or videoconference, schedule time for informal conversation at the beginning and end of meetings.

4. Make room for minibreaks. Stepping away from your desk for even five minutes helps you relax — and stay focused. Danish students who were given a short break before taking a test got significantly higher scores than their peers who didn’t get any time to relax. Mollie has been using the app Time Out (for Macs), which reminds her to take periodic breaks to stretch, walk around, or change position at her desk.

5. Set up an after-work ritual. It’s easy to overwork when you don’t leave a physical office at a specific time each day, so it’s extra important to keep healthy boundaries. Your brain will benefit from a signal that tells it, “Work is over!” Some ideas: Meditate, listen to music, read a magazine, or lift weights. (Some studies show that weight training boosts your mood more than cardio.) Cal Newport, author of Deep Work, ends each day by transcribing any loose notes into a master task list, shutting down his computer, and then saying the phrase, “Schedule shutdown, complete.” “Here’s my rule,” he writes. “After I’ve uttered the magic phrase, if a work-related worry pops to mind, I always answer it with the following thought process: I said the termination phrase.”

6. Put time on your calendar to exercise. Commit to getting some physical activity by blocking off time to work out on your calendar. Need some working-out-from-home ideas? Try a seven-minute workout, or a variety of desk stretches that might (almost) replace going to the gym, or just put on your favorite song and dance it out. Even better, make it a virtual group activity: Jump on a video call with a friend, pick a YouTube fitness video, and get your sweat on together.

7. Check in on each other. This can be done by setting up virtual lunches, teatimes, or what social media management platform company Buffer terms pair calls. For pair calls, Buffer employees opt in to be randomly paired with someone else at the company once a week. Calls have no set agenda; coworkers get to know each other in pairs by talking about their families, hobbies, and favorite shows. If your organization uses Slack, one easy way to set this up is through Donut, a Slack bot that pairs people automatically.

8. Be thoughtful when you do head out. Not all of us have the ability to do our jobs from home. For the sake of those who still have to be physically present on the job (think doctors, cashiers, and pharmacists), be sure to wash your hands regularly and carefully when you go out, practice social distancing, and thank those who can’t stay home.

In these uncertain times, many companies are striving for business continuity and supporting employees as best they can in a variety of ways. Flexible, virtual work arrangements help employees continue to do their jobs, but these unprecedented circumstances require adjustments that for many come with significant challenges. It’s important now more than ever to support one another as we navigate the days ahead.

Combating the Toll of Digital Pollution


If you went back to London in the 1600s, you would find a coal-fired metropolis, where heavy smoke from the city’s burning hearths and furnaces damaged buildings. Only during the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1800s, when respiratory diseases became the leading cause of death in the city, did people finally recognize how air pollution was affecting their quality of life. It took even longer to galvanize people into action, with laws finally enacted in the 20th century to improve air quality in London.

We know how fossil fuels and other byproducts of the industrial age have affected people’s health and contributed to the climate crisis. In the digital era, a new kind of pollution, fueled by technology growth and dependence, has had an unintended yet profound impact on society. As business leaders, we urgently need to understand these effects so we can build our businesses and develop our products more responsibly.

We’ve started to see the consequences of unregulated digital growth in the tech sector but until now haven’t recognized these consequences as pollution. As with any new form of pollution, recognizing it takes time. Digital-era pollution can be categorized into the following three types.

Eroding Trust In Information Ecosystems

During a cab ride recently, the conversation with my driver turned to politics. He shared the news that he had read about various politicians, but each time he added a disclaimer: “This is what I read, but who knows if it’s true.” His most sobering comment spoke to the erosion of our information ecosystem and the alarming spread of disinformation: “Years ago, I would open a newspaper and feel like I got the facts. Today, I have access to all the information I want, but I just don’t know what is real.”

The early days of the internet in the 1990s and early 2000s offered promise and hope for democratizing knowledge across the globe — anyone looking for information could have it at their fingertips. But in recent decades, as social media and platforms have transformed how we share and distribute information, we’re seeing how truth itself can be disrupted through a digital lens. Apart from the spread of false news across social networks, the web also enables users to curate their online presence and personas in a way that adds to a sense of distorted reality and distrust.

Education and information access are pillars of society — but some of the most prominent, widely used products in the digital era have eroded our access to knowledge and facts.

Polarization Effect

While there are several underlying reasons for political polarization, including the rise of partisan cable news, changing party composition, and racial divisions, our digital products also contribute to the polarization effect. In a new study, researchers were able to demonstrate for the first time that Facebook’s algorithms for ad targeting contribute to political polarization.

Social media also increases polarization by giving airtime to more extreme views. Wide reporting has revealed how prior versions of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm favored extreme content and contributed to the radicalization of users’ preferences. Studies show that the addiction to validation (through things like “follows,” “likes,” and “faves”) leads people to post increasingly polarizing content and to express moral outrage.

The digital economy has also contributed to polarization by increasing the divide between the rich and poor. Wealth inequality has risen to levels not seen since the Great Depression. The risks of an economic downturn or a decrease in demand, previously assumed by companies, are often now borne by workers amid the widespread deunionization and outsourcing that are part of the gig economy, leaving many workers trapped in a cycle of insecurity (made even more precarious during a pandemic).

Increasing wealth inequality and polarized views create a more divisive society that makes people more disillusioned with majority rule. By creating an increasingly divisive society, we are, in fact, eroding democracy.

Social Media Pollution

While air or water pollution affects physical well-being, social media can pollute the mental health of individuals and damage our well-being as a society. Recent research has shown a correlation between social media use and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Another study found that people who stopped using Facebook for a week were happier than those who continued using it.

Even more dramatically, in 2014 Facebook demonstrated through an experiment on over 1 million users that it was able to make individuals feel positive or negative emotions by curating the content in their newsfeeds. The experiment showed how social media platforms make it easier to manipulate people. The power of using Facebook for manipulation was known at least as early as 2010 but more fully entered public awareness after the Cambridge Analytica scandal erupted in 2018.

Together, these forms of pollution fray the fabric of a democratic society. People are more divided and easily manipulated and have a harder time accessing facts. There have been calls for more digital regulation as people recognize the need for change, but history shows that regulations will always play catch-up. While we wait for meaningful regulatory action, digital pollution threatens our society, and many of the unintended effects of our digital products are hard to reverse.

Toward a Cleaner Digital Footprint

Tackling digital pollution is a shared responsibility. While recognizing that the oil and gas industry is a heavy environmental polluter, we also know that as individuals, we each have a part to play in reducing our carbon footprint regardless of our industry. As business leaders, we need to recognize our responsibility in creating a clean digital footprint and building products that reduce digital pollution. Whether you’re a technology leader directly involved in engineering new products or a business leader who affects product decisions, there are many ways to get involved.

Leaders can do these three things to engineer positive change while avoiding digital-era pollution:

  1. Determine your vision. To recognize when a product or business is polluting the world, we must start with a clear picture of the change we intend to create. Define your vision by answering questions about whose experience you’re setting out to change, why it needs changing, and how it will look once you’ve accomplished your goal. This detailed vision serves as a signpost for what the world will look like when you’ve achieved your vision. Your product is only a mechanism to create the change you envision — it’s not the end goal in itself. Clear signposts are needed to judge a product’s success — that is, whether it’s creating the change you set out to achieve in the first place.
  2. Recognize when you’re compromising on your vision. Building a product often requires a balance between making progress toward your vision and the realities of running a business, such as meeting revenue goals and investor expectations. These trade-offs permeate everyday business decisions. For example, the iconic “like” button increases user engagement (and therefore ad revenues), but it’s been shown to decrease user well-being. Vision debt accumulates by trading off progress toward the vision against pleasing stakeholders and investors. A visual approach to prioritization can help you identify when you’re compromising on your vision (and societal well-being) to achieve business objectives or profitability. By making more deliberate and thoughtful compromises as we build our products and scale our businesses, we can work toward a cleaner digital footprint.
  3. Take responsibility on the path to creating change. Until the digital era, most businesses had a local reach. In contrast, even relatively niche products today can affect millions of users. It’s important that we recognize our responsibility for the impact our products have on society. As recent employee protests at Amazon and Google show, you can hold your organization accountable for the change it’s creating. You can choose to take the Hippocratic oath of product leadership and recognize that you’re responsible for the product decisions you make and the resulting change your product creates in the world.

By taking a deliberate approach to building products, we can achieve business objectives with a cleaner digital footprint to change the world for the better.