The PackPride Message Boards: Where Hatred & Opportunity Meet
As UNC continues to bleed out from its death by a thousand cuts, I remain fascinated by the message board aspect of this story.
I’m not the only one, either. Gregggggggggg Doyel made message board fandom one of the focal points of his scathing (does Gregg know how to write any other way?) piece earlier today on the UNC mess.
Long have message board communities like PackPride’s justly earned the reputation of group-thinking lunatics and echo chambers where the fringiest of the fringe congregate to convince themselves that their half-baked ideas have merit.
But for all their madness, message boards possess a method to them that can, when properly focused, deal real, significant damage to the reputation of people or entire athletic administrations.
It was the PackPride message board, after all, that parsed the contents of Michael McAdoo’s paper to decipher its plagiarized nature–not McAdoo’s lawyers, not the NCAA’s, not UNC’s Honor Court, nor UNC’s athletic admins. That paper, for a Swahili class, ultimately launched the current investigation into the AFAM department.
And it was the PackPride message boards that not only rooted out Julius Peppers’ transcript posted on a server accessible to all, but explained in plain detail the shocking similarity it bore to the transcript the N&O had obtained last week.
That discovery, and the McAdoo revelation, are two of the “highlights” from the PackPride message board’s seemingly endless, tireless efforts to bring down the UNC athletic program. I don’t have the time or inclination to tally up the total number of posts, replies and pages of text devoted to the UNC scandal on the PackPride boards, but assign it an astronomical number off the top of your head and it won’t surprise me if you’re close.
No one man or woman has that kind of time–the same kind necessary to data mine all the nooks and crannies of a story of this magnitude–which is why message boarders, not investigative journalists, are unearthing some of the most damning elements of this scandal.
Investigative journalism departments used to be the hallmark of local newspapers and television news departments, but in recent years they’ve been trimmed to skeleton crews unable to devote the man hours necessary to do the job of investigation adequately.
But message boards, on the other hand, have man hours in spades. A highly motivated army of unemployed, semi-employed or loosely monitored employees working at mundane jobs can devote vast amounts of time online searching, scouring and theorizing–far more than can be expended by a single journalist. What a message board lacks in access can be offset by sheer community involvement and willpower.
Numbers alone won’t do it. There must be another shared component present uniting all toward a common goal–hatred.
Sure, there are large message board communities all over the Internet. Some even on Scout.com that surpass State’s in size. But there aren’t many with the singular focus and drive to undermine an entire university quite like that of the PackPride boards. Some on the boards do it to settle the score from Valvano’s ouster…some are in it to humble their rival. Others just operate on sheer bloodlust or love a spectacle. But whatever the individual motivations, the collective drive is clear and unrelenting.
Is Dan Kane of the News & Observer doggedly seeking the truth? Sure. But Dan Kane puts his pad and recorder in a drawer at some point during the day and lives his life not concerned with the UNC academic scandal. Not so of the PackPride message board.
A message board never sleeps or requires food. It never tires or takes a day off or spends time with the kids. It’s a 24/7 online machine constantly feeding and energizing itself with newfound nuggets, ideas and discoveries.
And occasionally, at late-ass-o’clock on a Sunday night when the rest of the work-a-day world is sleeping, this merciless machine unearths a legitimately newsworthy, potentially devastating piece of the puzzle.
PackPride’s done it twice so far in this investigation, and I wouldn’t bet against it happening again.
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