It’s time to contest all these contests.

Science & Nature Column
Written by Nathan Mattise

I would never expect to win a raffle, a lottery or any of the “be the fourth caller” type of contests. However, whenever any caveat including some semblance of skill is added to a competition… suddenly I find myself diving in head first.

Take the recent PopCandy Guest Blogger week. I submitted at least seven ideas (some of which I ultimately used on my own) and easily spent at least two hours researching and writing out my pitch. I remember anxiously checking the blog and Twitter feed several times the day of the announcement only to be forged into a pseudo-bad mood when I wasn’t among the lucky ones.

That was fine though. I still had the SU Football Guest Blogger prize to chase.  I followed the team fairly closely for the past five years. I’m in very close proximity to the games and players. I also happen to blog, report and generally write all the time (even about sports on occasion). My post was fairly well received on the BleacherReport – a decent mix of resume, potential and Orange pride.

Different game, same result. I received a nice e-mail offering me two free tickets to home opener for participating and that was the end.

More often than not, I find myself genuinely surprised that I didn’t win when entering these competitions. It’s as if one taste of actually victory in one (or two) of these costs you logic and common sense around contests from then on. Just look at the folks who actually won the PopCandy slots – the most famous site commenter, the director of the AMI and a Daytime Emmy-nominated actor. My Twitter-failure stories and I didn’t stand a real chance among hundreds of others.

The reality is any contest involves odds and most of them are long. Getting invested in them or banking on a break coming via this route is just too unrealistic and undependable.

Now, will that stop me from putting too much time and energy into entering them? (Don’t look after the jump..)

College Media Intern (Oct. 1) For any students aspiring to work in traditional journalism media after school, the Innovations in College Media blog is a great resource to learn about philsophical changes in how journalism is taught in a evolving digital age. Sounds heady, right? These guys do a good job of simplifying concepts and making them entertaining to read. You can become a contributor (it’s for students, only makes sense to have student voices) by applying before Oct. 1.

Starf*cker Needs A New Name (Oct. 1)

I like the GMail account they set up to accept ideas (newnameideas@gmail.com – brilliant). Simply send in the idea with a little bit of logic behind it by “October 1-ish.

PopCandy’s Top 10 Albums  (Oct. 2) If you love pop culture and don’t read PopCandy yet, start. You can actually begin by entering your Top 10 Albums to blogger Whitney Matheson’s call for submissions. No real prize here except the notoriety of having your personal Top 10 recognized on a nationally known entertainment blog.  Lists are due by Oct. 2.

MediaBistro’s UGX (User-Generated Content) Contest (Oct. 6)

Ironically, I heard about both this conference and this contest over the outlet’s Twitter feed. Just simply enter your blog post on how UGX is changing, well, whatever walk of life you’d like.

Dean Branham Sandwich Contest (Oct. 7) Have you ever tried the Dean Rubin at Newhouse’s Food.com and wondered why it’s not simply called a reuben? The former dean was honored via sandwich when the new cafe was built, but now that there’s a new dean in town it’s time for a new sandwich. Submit your Dean Branham sandwich (the name, ingredients and your contact info) to TheNewHouseAgency@gmail.com by Oct. 7 and you could have your creation added to the menu (and then $25 to the bookstore in your pocket).

(Links today from USA Today’s Pop Candy, MediaBistro, Innovations in College Media, the BKM Blog, newhouse.syr.edu and MySpace)

Got any tips? E-mail them in, I could use all the help I can get.
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