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Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog Has Grown up with Twitter – and Now Baseball is Doing So, Too

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WASHINGTON, March 14, 2013 – As print newspapers continue their long descent into inoperable demise, the rise of the blogger – specifically sports bloggers – has tossed the classic definition of journalist into grayer areas.

Matthew Cerrone, a former P.R strategist, started MetsBlog.com in 2003. In the 10 years since the site’s inception, what was once a hobby has now become a full-time job. In that span of time, Cerrone has built a brand. By building individual relationships with fans and a greater relationship with the New York Mets, Cerrone has been on the ground floor of social media for the last decade, and has seen its ups and downs, including how athletes engage it.

Cerrone was at first apprehensive about the usage of Twitter. Like many he relied on the contact submission form on his website to interact with fans. It was through this form that he first asked fans if he should embrace Twitter.

“I distinctly remember some advising me to not bother, because it would be just a fad.” But this once-perceived fad has now fused with both Cerrone’s life and his brand.

“I can’t live without it. I picked it up quickly, and did what I advise most newcomers to do: Just follow people, don’t tweet, just follow and get a feel for what it’s about. It doesn’t take long before you’ll all in, though. I still view the medium as two different dynamics: It’s a great way to consume information, but then a great tool to communicate one on one.”

Cerrone likens the transition to Twitter to the repercussions the text-message had on telephonic phone calls. “It was built to be and still very much just an enhanced text message service. And, in the same way texting has crushed the traditional telephone service, Twitter has crushed many of the traditional ways we get information and communicate online.”

Though Twitter has been an essential medium to help build his own brand, Cerrone like many other Twitter users appreciates the one-on-one relationship that is newly fused between fans and players. This relationship now goes beyond the ballpark and introduces new elements to fandom that were previously unknown.

“I’m a Mets fan, but I have become a fan of Orioles of Adam Jones, strictly because he and I seem to like the same food, which I’m now aware of from following his Instagram.” This connection, Cerrone says, could never have happened even as recently as 10 years ago.

Though many athletes use Twitter as a medium to communicate their day-to-day activities, Cerrone is mindful at how an athlete can use Twitter to further his career. “I love when I see less popular personalties and athletes building a following, building a specific brand, because they’re creating a community that is exclusively their own.”

This specific brand is something that Cerrone believes could be used to a players advantage. “I look at Nick Swisher, an outfielder for the Cleveland Indians and think, with his personality and that following he has amassed on Twitter, how does an ESPN or FOX Sports not hire him for on-air work immediately after he retires.”

The reach that athletes have on Twitter has also allowed some to use their access to fans for charitable and professional service. Washington Nationals infielder Ian Desmond has used this platform to raise awareness for several different causes including Quilts of Honor. By connecting with fans via Twitter, he has given away tickets, and game used items for those who donate or interact with charities he supports.

Beyond charitable causes, athletes have also used Twitter to market themselves. Cerrone summarizes this by noting that “these guys have a direct pipeline now to sell books, products, tickets, autographs.” This dynamic is not exclusive to the athlete as Cerrone notes that “their agents can leverage those audiences in negotiations.”

As Twitter continues to grow into the lexicon of society, its importance in the life of the athlete continues to grow. 2012 National League Rookie of the Year, Bryce Harper was 14 at the inception of Twitter. For his entire adult life, Twitter has been a major medium. As young athletes like Harper rise in prominence, their usage of Twitter is not exclusive to their professions, but a by-product of their age. These athletes “don’t need to ’embrace it,’ because it’s already part of the D.N.A. as teenagers,” Said Cerrone.

Going forward, Cerrone believes success for an athlete on Twitter requires both a thick skin and a degree of honesty and candor that fans have now come to expect. “Rule number one is always be authentic. However, you have to have a filter. That’s how life works.”

As the medium continues to grow, Cerrone hopes that teams and corporations do not over exceed their limits by censoring an athlete and becoming problematic to the athlete, fan relationship.

“The fact that a fan can meet a player and those two can recognize one another from Twitter, that they’d already have a small relationship before meeting face to face, is pretty powerful. I worry teams and leagues will get involved and start muddying up this relationship with branding and ticket sales. But, for now, it’s pretty awesome.”

Digital Inclusion

Digital Inclusion Leaders a Critical Step to Closing Digital Divide: National League of Cities

The National League of Cities said government leaders need to have ‘multiple points of engagement’ with communities.

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Lena Geraghty, National League of Cities director of urban innovation

WASHINGTON, January 20, 2022 – To understand the digital divide, cities need to include digital equity leaders in their broadband needs assessment programs, the National League of Cities said at an event on community connectivity challenges Wednesday.

A broadband needs assessment would allow city leaders to explore the extent of the digital divide in their communities, said Lena Geraghty, the National League of Cities’ director of urban innovation.

“[A needs assessment] enable city leaders to dig into who’s being excluded, what’s currently available in your city, and what solutions city leaders can use” to close the digital divide, she said.

“The community is going to know best about where access exists, where gaps exist, and the needs that will make connectivity better,” Geraghty said. To get the best picture of a community’s need, stakeholders must find and include the community’s digital equity leaders in the data-gathering process, she added.

“These could be people that are knowledgeable about digital equity or people that are experiencing the digital divide,” she said. “Think really broadly about what it means to be a leader and the type of information these folks can bring to bear in solving the digital divide in your communities.”

Geraghty said it may be useful to formalize the leaders’ work by creating a broadband working group or ad hoc committee led by the city’s government. “Giving some roles and responsibilities can help everyone move in the same in direction, there’s agreement, and really clear goals and outcomes.”

Geraghty added that it’s important for government leaders to establish multiple points of engagement for the community. “It’s not enough to gather data or information from people once,” she said. “The state of access to the internet and devices is always changing,” so leaders should create multiple touch points for community input.

The National League of Cities released its Digital Equity Playbook for cities in December, walking readers through how they can promote digital equity in their cities. The playbook has a four-step process on how to get started with digital equity.

By walking readers through the process of connecting with the community, evaluating the connectivity landscape, gathering foundational information and reporting on findings, city leaders will be prepared to target broadband funding to unserved and underserved areas in their communities.

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Environment

FCC Commissioner Starks Says Commission Looking into Impact of Broadband, 5G on Environment

Starks sat down to discuss the promise of smart grid technology for the environment.

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FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks

WASHINGTON, January 19, 2022 – Former and current leaders within the Federal Communications Commission agreed Thursday that it is important to make sure the FCC’s broadband efforts support the nation’s goals for the environment.

On Thursday, during a Cooley law firm fireside chat event, Robert McDowell, a former FCC director, and current FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks discussed how broadband expansion and next-generation 5G mobile networks will affect the environment.

Starks said that the commission is currently focusing on answering that exact question and are evaluating the current attempts to protect the environment, as more money is expected from the federal government and as broadband infrastructure expands. That includes putting more fiber into the ground and erecting more cell towers, but also allowing for a broadband-enabled smart grid system that will make automated decisions on energy allocation.

Smart grid systems, for example, provide real-time monitoring of the energy used in the electrical system. These systems can help to reduce consumption and carbon emissions, Starks said, by rerouting excess power and addressing power outages instantaneously in the most efficient and environmentally friendly manner. The smart grid systems will monitor “broadband systems in the 900 MHz band,” said Starks.

Starks also noted the Senate’s “Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation” initiative, which would set apart $500 million for cities across America so they can begin working on ways to lower carbon emissions.

FCC also focused on digital discrimination

Starks said the commission is also focusing on “making sure that there is no digital discrimination on income level, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin,” and that it all comes down to funding and who needs the money.

He stated that the first step is to finalize the maps and data that have been collected so funding can be targeted to the areas and people that need it the most. Many have remarked that the $65 billion allocated to broadband from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will not be divvied out until adequate maps are put in place.

Starks noted that broadband subsidy program Lifeline, although fundamental to some people’s lives, is significantly underutilized. Starks stated that participation rates hover around 20 percent, which led the FCC to explore other options while attempting to make Lifeline more effective. For example, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program – which provides monthly broadband subsidies – has been replaced by the Affordable Connectivity Program, a long-term and revised edition of the pandemic-era program.

Starks and McDowell also stated their support for the confirmation by the Senate of Alan Davidson as the permanent head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and expressed that Davidson will be a key player in these efforts.

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Broadband's Impact

CES 2022: Public-Private Partnerships Key to Building Smart Cities, Tech leaders Say

Public-private partnerships will increase the community benefit of infrastructure projects, leaders at Qualcomm and Verizon said.

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Panelists on the “Smart Cities and Public-Private Partnerships” CES session on Friday.

LAS VEGAS, January 12, 2022––Telecommunications industry leaders said Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show that public-private partnerships will pave the way to realizing the future of smart cities.

Raymond Bauer, director of the domain specialist group that connects governments to Verizon’s telecommunications services, said the government needs private partners to improve its infrastructure efforts.

Referencing the recent passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Bauer said governments should look forward to partnering with private technology companies to improve upcoming infrastructure projects.

“There’s a once in a lifetime opportunity from IIJA,” Bauer said. “We should find common ways to work in a way we haven’t in the past. There are certain goals and use cases to leverage the infrastructure we have,” he said.

The $1.2 trillion bipartisan legislation funds physical and digital infrastructure projects, including $65 billion for the expansion of broadband across the country.

Bauer said communities have a chance to monetize the services Verizon offers to communities if Verizon builds infrastructure for broadband access in underserved areas. “By bridging the digital divide, underserved communities get the services they need,” he added.

Ashok Tipirneni, head of smart cities and connected spaces at Qualcomm, said that cities should be thinking about how technology can improve much-needed infrastructure projects.

“Cities are growing faster than available utility,” he said, citing global issues of housing, water, and equity for vulnerable populations. “How do we ensure access for all citizens? And how can cities be in lock step with new technology, whatever it is?” he asked.

Qualcomm’s Smart Cities Accelerator Program delivers internet of things ecosystem products and services to member cities and local governments.

“New Orleans, Miami, and Los Angeles has local governments asking how they can do better,” he said. “They offer opportunities for partnerships that wouldn’t have been the case a few years ago.”

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