Nice data, USA Today. But share the data with us!

USA Today published its annual database of college basketball coach salaries today.

It’s a truly great resource. It shows what all Division I coaches earn from their schools, other sources and how much their bonuses are worth. It’s sortable by conference, by salary, by name. It’s got everything you’d want.

Well … not quite.

In fact, it’s missing something really important.

The data.

Where is the link to the data itself? Why isn’t there a link to a spreadsheet, or CSV file, with all this data that users could download?

I teach data journalism and data visualization in three different classes. This kind of data file would be a dream come true for my sports writing students, and probably a lot in my online journalism and data journalism classes. They could learn their way around Excel, data sorting and making fun visualizations out of a robust data set.

But they can’t.

Because USA Today didn’t share the data in a raw format. The only way to access it is through their own site.

I get it, I think. This is proprietary work. The USA Today journalists put a ton of work into creating this database, and it is excellent work. But a huge part of the data journalism movement is rooted in the open-source mindset. Data journalism is about showing your work, and providing the information for others to check your math and do their own work. It also gives students interested in sports journalism and data journalism the chance to learn and practice their skills.

Except for corporate greed and branding purposes, there’s no legit case I can make for USA Today not publishing the coach salary database as a downloadable file. Share the data, USA Today!

"It's what's right for them."

My wife is attending the annual American Copy Editor’s Society (ACES) conference in St. Petersburg this weekend.

This afternoon she sent this tweet.

You know it's good, because my wife never tweets.

It's a great point about editing. Editing is not about the editor. It's about the reader.

An editor is the first reader of a work. Her job is to make sure a piece makes sense, content wise tonally, for the reader. It's not about making corrections. A good editor loves nothing more than a piece they don't have to do anything to.

Last week, there was news about a court case in Maine being decided because of a serial comma. And it drove me crazy. The serial comma is one of those things that grammar nerds will argue about. I rarely use it but only because I learned AP style so I think in that. My wife, who is a genuinely gifted copy editor, believes that what matters is not adherence to any rule or style but clarity. If the reader knows what you’re trying to say, the grammar is fine. If they don’t, there’s an issue.

It’s not a blind adherence about rules, it’s not about showing off your linguistic snobbery and it’s not about you.

It’s about the reader.

Rich old white men never get anywhere with me ...

Perhaps the greatest line Aaron Sorkin ever wrote came in the first season of Sports Night, when Dan Rydell compared himself to Rosa Parks in a coversation with ihs boss, Issac Jaffe.

Jaffe's response:

No rich young white guy has ever gotten anywhere with me comparing himself to Rosa Parks. Got it?

Today, in the Detroit Free Press, Mitch Albom wrote about the New England Patriots players who said they will not visit the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl title (a column, it should be noted, Albom never wrote when Tom Brady or Tim Thomas refused to visit the Obama White House after titles).

It is surely their right to do so as Americans.

It is also rude.

No one is asking them to endorse a candidate. And taking a photo with your nation’s elected leader doesn’t mean you surrender your right to disagree with every single thing he does. That’s the beauty of America. In fact, the visit may give you a rare chance to express your views to the leader himself.

Mitch ... no rich old white man has ever gotten anywhere with me telling young black men how they should express their political beliefs.

Thinking about Kyle Shanahan's backpack

Certainly, one of the silliest stories of Super Bowl week involves Kyle Shanahan’s backpack.

Earlier this week, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator briefly lost his backpack, containing the Falcons’ game plan for Super Bowl 51 against the Patriots. It turns out San Francisco Examiner columnist Art Spander had accidentally picked up the wrong backpack. Spader returned it to Shanahan, and all is well.

But it got me thinking.

And it led me to a poll on Twitter:

This issue — what would you do? — was addressed on PTI on Tuesday:

Wilbon: (Spander’s) gonna hand the backpack back to the proper person. What gets me is it could have been a big deal because about 70 percent of the people in our business now would have posted something about it, on Instagram, Twitter, something Art Spander has zero chance ending.

Kornheiser: What would you have done if you found this thing?

Wilbon: I would have called the Atlanta Falcons executive that I know personally, and I would have said ‘Hey, I got your coaches backpack.’ I would not have reported it to anybody. I would not have told anyone. I wouldn’t have looked at it.

Kornheiser: That’s interesting. I would have called the league because it could be awkward calling the team, there could be some suspicions calling the team.

I asked my sports writing students about it, and most of them agreed that the right move would be to return it to the team. Which seems fair.

But it got me thinking.

What if this wasn’t sports journalism? What if it was news journalism? What if it wasn’t the Falcons’ game plan but, instead, a collection of all of the Trump administration’s proposed policy memos for the first 90 days of his presidency.

Would you publish it then? Would it be so cut-and-dried for veteran reporters to return it, sight unseen, all happy like? Would the public be understanding of this, or would people be outraged?

Now, clearly, this is apples and desk lamps. One is a collection of policy memos that would have a direct effect on people’s lives. The other is a collection of plays for a football game. The stakes are way different.

But on at least some level, this demonstrates the difference between sports journalism and news journalism. The default, as expressed in the Twitter poll, on PTI and in my class, is to be between respectful and deferential to the team. It’s not a critique of sports journalism, though I’m sure it sounds like one. But as Michael Schudson has pointed out, there is historically no more symbiotic relationship in media as there is between sports teams and sports reporters. We need each other. On the news side, the adversarial nature of the media-government relationship is codified, both legally and professionally. This isn’t to say that sports journalism isn’t good or serious. It’s just pointing out the defaults in the relationships between sources and reporters and how those defaults influence what is and is not reported.

Like I said, it got me thinking is all.