Fact Checker Too: Counting viewers, TV execs cheer as Duke advances

Welcome to Fact Checker Too. A project of the Deputy Fact Checkers offering shorter articles.

✔Some times you just have to endure hardship. This item was buried deep in a Chronicle article on student government: "The Senate tabled a statute to allocate $2,600 from the Surplus Account Trustee Fund for massage therapists during reading period in April. Although freshman Frank Lee, an athletics and campus services senator, highlighted the 'proven medicinal benefits' of massage therapy in his statute, the Senate tabled it by a vote of 25-21."

Men's basketball. CBS MarketWatch says TV executives are hoping Duke gets to the championship game -- and that it is a close contest. Duke... because it's a big draw. Close... because everyone will watch both the action and the commercials to the end. The price of a 30 second spot during the NCAA finale: $1.2 million, more than any other sport except the NFL playoffs. Total tournament revenue last year: $614 million, up from $589 million the year before.

Last year an estimated 24 million people saw Duke edge Butler. That's better than in the recent past, but a far cry from the larger audiences 20 years ago. For example 34 million for Duke-Michigan in 1994. The reason for the erosion? Several factors, says TV ratings executive Stephen Master, but the early departure of the best talent before they develop a firm fan base is #1.

Master: “Duke is like the New York Yankees: Whether people love or hate them, they’re nevertheless interested in them.”

Question: shouldn't the schools be getting a larger slice of this big pie?

Butler -- you know, the Cinderella team that pulled the stunning upset of top-seed Pitt on Saturday -- may have lost the championship game last year, but the publicity saw sales of season tickets jump 25 percent; total attendance an average of 7,177 at home games this year, the highest in 40 years. Ah yes, applications up 62 percent from out of state, 41 percent overall.

✔Erstwhile Michigan star Jalen Rose, under fire, sidesteps the mess caused by his nasty assertion that Duke shuns street kids and recruits only Uncle Toms for its basketball program. He tells USA Today that he has "great respect and appreciation for Duke."

✔You are reading Fact Checker Too. This is an experiment with shorter items of interest to Dukies, in addition to our traditional compelling essays. Let us know what you think. Duke.Fact.Checker@gmail.com

Katie Douglas '11 will be this year's student preacher in Duke Chapel. Thoughts derived from Exodus 17 and John 4, "Rocks and Hard Places," March 27.

✔That parade of people from the Chapel on Sunday were the participants in the 37th annual Durham CROP Walk, raising funds for the hungry. They walked 4.8 miles, symbolic of the six miles a day many people in the third world must walk to feed themselves each day. Organizers concede Sunday's crowd looked thin, probably watching basketball. No word on the $200,000 goal. Earlier marches raised a total of $3,214,202 for hungry people, including $803,551 for local programs.

✔More spring break news: the Duke a cappella group "Something Borrowed Something Blue" went to Vero Beach, Florida. 15 students, five vehicles, just one day with the surf and sand, the rest of the time according to the local newspaper scrubbing toilets and showers, picking up garbage and serving meals at The Source, a soup kitchen for the homeless.

✔The Carteret County NC News-Times, covering the area around the Duke Marine Lab at Beaufort, has interviewed six Dukies who were in Japan during the quake, the only first person accounts we've seen about people from the university.

Five of the students, Cameron Zohoori, Elizabeth Campbell, Alison Rogers, Abner Romero and Stephani Zakutansky, were together, touring the Tokyo Shibuya district on spring break and later classes in Singapore.

Zohoori says they were on a crosswalk on Omote-Sando in the Harajuki district of western Tokyo when the earthquake hit. “The streets were teeming with trendy Japanese shoppers and businessmen. But as the ground suddenly began to move beneath our feet, the bustling crowds froze.”

A bookshelf on the 10th floor of a building shook, crashed into a window, and threw books down to the street nearby. “Everyone rushed to the middle of the streets. Not knowing what else to do, we followed suit. Surrounded by worried Japanese faces, we rode out the undulations in the concrete below us.”

“As traffic began to move again, we decided to continue down the street, knowing we were not safe staying put. The occupants of the buildings around us had abandoned their offices and huddled on the streets. Hard hats spontaneously appeared in the hands and on the heads of passersby.”

The students decided to try to contact their parents via internet from a Starbucks, but an aftershock hit while they were there. “Through all of this, the Japanese remained calm, organized and patient in the face of fear and tragedy.”

The sixth student, Angela Ostendorf, was with her parents riding in a cab downtown. “It felt like someone was behind the car, shaking the trunk up and down. People fled the buildings immediately in fear of the occurrence … one of the men came out carrying his mattress on his head for protection. Another was just putting his shopping bag over his head as protection.”

The Ostendorfs ended up spending the night in a refuge center at Tokyo University because they couldn’t reach their hotel.

With great hassle, all the Dukies, amid aftershocks, walked, hitched, rode trains to the airport. As they waited to board, the terminal building shook.

Lupe Fiasco has a busy spring: his tour starts March 27 in LA, comes to Duke March 31st, then on to the University of Michigan, SUNY Albany, Keen State in New Hampshire, Miami of Ohio, Yale, Roger Williams University, Penn State, Boise State and Bates. A couple non college appearances too.

Jazz more to the FC's liking: Duke University and Lincoln Center have commissioned The Bad Plus, a jazz trio with a rock-heavy repertoire, to create a "reappraisal and rearrangement" of Stravinsky's iconic, riot-inducing ballet "Rite of Spring." Premier at Duke March 26th.

✔Fact Checker has more Kunshan documents. A Special Report is being prepared, to be posted by Wednesday.

Faculty thoughts: Libya. "The administration hasn't mobilized the American public nor the Congress to support US military intervention" Peter Feaver, a Duke University professor and former national security adviser to President George W. Bush.

Research: Ryohei Yasuda, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurobiology, says a biochemical process usually yields a very brief signal, but when a longer-lasting tsunami of molecules comes along, the brain can form stronger connections (synapses) that can summon deep memory back to life. Implications for mental retardation, Alzheimer's.

FC Mailbox. From a Loyal Reader and library staffer, a male: "I don't feel comfortable being in certain parts of campus or the libraries after hours." Worse, the Loyal Reader reminded us that the overnight staff is all students.

Two other factors are emerging in the problems homeless are bringing to campus. First, the new free bus from downtown Durham to Duke. And Duke's transition from a centralized professional armed police force, to department by department hiring of security guards by the hour. If for example, someone causes a problem at the Bryan Center and is sent packing, the same person could go over to Perkins and be unknown.