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Internet-Media
05/13/2010
Icon"It has fewer pages than three years ago, the paper stock is thinner, and the stories are shorter.' The newsroom staff producing the paper is also smaller....Financial pressures sap its strength and threaten its very survival." Nope, that isn't a statement about your local newspaper.' It's a statement about the American daily newspaper of 2008, as reported by the Pew Research Center. "This description is a composite.' It is based on face-to-face interviews conducted at newspapers across the country, and the results of a detailed survey of senior newsroom executives.' In total, more than 250 newspapers participated." In total, more than one in every five of the nation's 1,217 daily newspapers participated, making it one of the broadest surveys of its kind in recent years.The majority of newspapers are now suffering cutbacks in staffing, and even more in the amount of news they offer the public.' The forces buffeting the industry continue to impact larger metro newspapers to a far greater extent than smaller ones.Perhaps you've heard the recent announcements of a further round of huge newsroom staff reductions at large papers, including the Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune , and The Washington Post , all known to be quite liberal in their perspectives. Let's also not forget The New York Times , that bastion of bias, with a second quarter drop of 82% in revenue, with print advertising continuing to shrink.The Pew Report was meant to document how newspapers are faring in the race between today's financial pressures and the innovative attempts to insure the industry's future.' Many papers are expanding their web presence and getting into web TV to mobilize the rapid growth of web readership.One major area of concern, however, which has already cropped up in television news, is the pressure to have a constant flow of new material on the web, which means "a loss of time to organize a thoughtful attack on a story, to think through precisely why a story is being done, or how to make that story more meaningful." Newspapers have long had that luxury and that responsibility.' Television and radio news, with their competitive immediacy, have veered toward the unexamined and notorious for the sake of ratings.'We should be worried. More >>

Tags: BudgetFinancesInternet-MediaInternet/Media
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05/13/2010
IconA Canadian court has lifted a 12 year old girl's "grounding," overturning her father's punishment for disobeying his orders to stay off the Internet.' The girl had taken her father to Quebec Superior Court after he refused to allow her to go on a school trip for chatting on websites he tried to block, and then posting inappropriate pictures of herself online using a friend's computer.Unbelievably, the judge, Justice Suzanne Tessier, decided the punishment was too severe, and basically severed this father's parental authority.' Unbelievable.' Unbelievable.Evidently, the girl's Internet transgression was just the latest in a pattern of broken house rules.Obviously, this situation should never have been accepted for adjudication.' Obviously, this judge has taken leave of her common sense.' Obviously, this judge should lose her position.' Obviously, this is going to undermine parenting in Canada, and anywhere else such nonsense is permitted.By the way, there's a twist to this story - one which may explain the judge's behavior.' The court-appointed lawyer who represented this child is the same lawyer who has been involved in the child's parents' 10 year custody battle!' If I were suspicious, I might wonder if this judge is a feminist type who identified with the mom as a co-oppressee and misused judicial power to support women - right or wrong.' Not an accusation, you understand, but just an attempt at understanding the unacceptable. More >>

Tags: attitudeInternetInternet-MediaInternet/MediaParentingSocial IssuesValues
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05/13/2010
IconInternet providers Verizon, Sprint, and Time-Warner Cable have agreed to block access to child pornography and eliminate the material from their servers, according to Andrew Cuomo, New York State's Attorney General.According to the AP, "Investigators said they found 88 newsgroups devoted to child pornography in an 8 month investigation. " All are being shut down by these cable providers. "We are doing our part to deter the accessibility of such harmful content through the Internet, and we are providing monetary resources that will go toward the identification and removal of online child pornography," said Sprint spokesman Matthew Sullivan. "We embrace this opportunity to build upon our own long-standing commitment to online child safety." A Verizon representative pointed out that they can't possibly scan every user group, but they will work very quickly to deal with the issue when it is brought to their attention.Ya know, technologically, Internet providers have incredible resources for scanning....they just need the will.' It looks like Andrew Cuomo has made them find the will. More >>

Tags: Family/Relationships - ChildrenInternetInternet-MediaInternet/MediaParentingSocial IssuesValues
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05/13/2010
IconAccording to the Associated Press ( 5/27/08 ) Japanese youngsters are getting so addicted to Internet-linking cell phones that the government is starting a program warning parents and schools to limit their use among children.' The government is worried about how elementary and junior high school students are getting drawn into cyberspace crimes, spending long hours exchanging mobile email, and suffering other negative effects of cell phone overuse.' The government is also asking Japanese manufacturers to develop cell phones with only the "talk" function and GPS.Some youngsters are spending hours at night on email with their friends.' One fad is the "30 minute rule," in which a child who doesn't respond to email within 30 minutes gets targeted for bullying the next day.' Other children have sent in their own snapshots to a website and then ended up getting threatened for money.The cell phone craze in America is tightly connected to the growing "disconnect" between children and their busy, busy parents who feel some false sense of security while not supervising their children simply because the phone has a GPS locator.' Parents should not, as a matter of course, be giving cell phones with Internet access to children - it is just too tempting to abuse, and it puts them at risk. More >>

Tags: ChildrenFamily/Relationships - ChildrenFamily/Relationships - TeensInternet-MediaInternet/MediaParentingTeens
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05/13/2010
IconSue Shellenbarger writes a column for The Wall Street Journal that generally sends me up any available wall. The column is entitled "Home & Family," and I keep up with it if only to counter its content.She recently answered a reader's question ( 4/30/08 ) that had to do with a divorced father wanting to take his 10 year old son to his native Australia for 10 days, but his ex-wife is fighting the plan. The father contends that life lessons of such a vacation trump school. He's going to court for the right to take him, and asks Shellenbarger what she thinks.First of all, there are laws which prohibit one parent from taking a child out of the country without the express permission of the other. The reason is obvious: child-stealing. Secondly, having divorced parents at war with each other over a child hurts the child as he or she feels divided loyalties and tremendous anxiety. Thirdly, taking a child out of school for a protracted trip teaches the child that education is less of a priority than personal desires for fun. This father could arrange a summer trip when no school is missed. My guess is that this is a major power play.Shellenbarger not only doesn't deal with any of these issues, but she focuses on the whim of the child: if he would be comfortable with the trip; if he would see it as an adventure....in other words, just considering what the kid wants. What?? Of course the kid wants to be out of school and hanging out with dingos and kangaroos! "The ideal route would be for you and your ex-wife to set aside your personal feelings and focus on what he truly wants," contributes a New Jersey Marriage and Family Therapist. "[It] depends on your son's openness to the experience. Try to give him a free and honest choice, unfettered by feelings of loyalty to either of you or fear of letting you down." Is she kidding? How can a ten year old do that? And why put the burden on the child? Aren't the parents supposed to want and do what is best for the child? This is more of the "if it feels good it is good" school of thought - an experiment whose failure doesn't seem to curtail its perpetuation. More >>

Tags: DivorceFamily/Relationships - ChildrenInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMarriageParenting
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05/13/2010
IconWhen I was a kid, I was desperate to become a Mouseketeer - wearing those mouse ears, dancing, singing, and acting in one of the weekly Disney specials.' Alas, telling them of my dream in a postcard sent to them at the age of 12 got no response.At that time in Disney's history, children's "things" were innocent and sweet.' No more.' We are now in the era of Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Vanessa Hudgens and now, Miley Cyrus posing for Vanity Fair topless, beneath a draped sheet, and sporting a seductive look.It's no surprise that little girls and boys look up to young celebrities with enthusiasm and yearning, and it's obvious that these celebrities become instant role-models as well. My Disney role-models were talented and squeaky clean, because that was Mr. Disney's vision.' That was a good thing - or at least most families with children believed so.Most parents of 15-year-olds are pretty upset about this inappropriate display of an adolescent in Vanity Fair , where Cyrus is exposing her body in a vulgar way and giving their own children the wrong idea of feminine modesty and self-respect. Vanity Fair defends this travesty as beautiful, natural, and artistic.' How 'bout saying the truth:' they did this to sell magazines, and the best way to sell magazines is to sensationally exploit somebody or something.' When it comes to exploiting children and vulgarizing their innocence, somebody ought to pull the plug on the photographer's lights.'Apparently, former teen star Hilary Duff professed (according to Fox News) that she would never have made the mistake that Miley did by posing topless beneath a sheet.' When I first heard of Duff's statement, I got excited that someone of her celebrity would take on the elites of Manhattan and Hollywood.' Well, that dimmed immediately upon reading her entire statement, which included the following: "Everyone goes through things and takes their own path; who am I to judge decisions that she made?' People are pushing you to do something, and if you want to do it, that's your choice.' It's not what I would choose to do, but if she did, then that's fine.' That's her choice." In 2008, I am shocked to read the same lame, amoral, immature and gutless rhetoric of the 1960's.' Anything one chooses to do is fine simply because it is their choice?' So, there is not right and wrong?' There are no obligations to standards for the sake of others and the community?' All things we choose to do have value simply because we choose to them?Take that philosophy to your standard innocent and na've youth, and what do you get?' You get the blas' determination that the best thing for little girls is an injection for a sexually transmitted disease (venereal warts) almost as soon as she reaches double digits in age!' You also get Planned Parenthood aborting babies for these little girls and not reporting to the police that the fathers are adult men.'' You get young women so scarred and corrupted by all the "choices" they've made, that they can barely imagine, much less trust, the yearning for a safe, committed, happy marriage and family.That one look of Miley over her shoulder, with her chest barely covered with a sheet is an assault on the innocence of even more young girls...just when we thought they got the idea that becoming another Britney Spears was not such a good thing. More >>

Tags: Internet-MediaInternet/MediaSocial IssuesValues
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05/13/2010
IconI'm amazed at the constipated stupidity of many librarians who believe that privacy issues are more important than national security or the protection of children or the support of laws against child pornography.' Blame it on the extremist positions of the American Library Association, which I have long viewed as a family and values unfriendly bully group.Case in point:' a recent news report of a librarian who called the police because a fellow was a repeat offender in the library, downloading kiddie porn - a Federal offense.' The first time it happened, the news report tells us that the supervisor told this librarian not to report it.' When she saw him a second time, she called the police.' This heroine was fired.' Why?' Privacy issues!' What??' There is no presumption of privacy in a PUBLIC library - especially when one is breaking a Federal law.All of which makes it even more weird that Sprint Nextel Corporation has signed up hundreds of thousands of customers for a feature that shows them where their friends are with colored marks on a map viewable on their cellphone screens.' Basically, people would know, all day long, exactly where you are...right down to a restroom or a street corner.All the folks who use the social-networking websites don't seem to mind losing their privacy.' So when a librarian protects the children in the library by ridding it of a prospective child molester - who is the bad guy and who is worried about what privacy? More >>

Tags: Internet-MediaInternet/MediaSocial IssuesValues
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05/13/2010
IconAbout two months ago, my publisher, Harper Collins, called me up to tell me that The Today Show wanted to interview me in the 8AM hour on Tuesday, March 11, the day that my new book, Stop Whining, Start Living was going to be published.' I said, "Great!"Last week, I did the "pre-interview" with one of their producers, and they called me back to say they wanted to have my interview go for two segments.' I said "Even better!"Then, at 4PM on Monday, March 10, they called up and asked if I would also participate in a "panel" segment entitled "Why Men Cheat."' I went "uh oh."I hate doing panels.' I hate all the talking heads shouting over each other.' And I feared they would end up asking about tabloid gossip and not the real topic, but they reaffirmed that they really wanted to hear my opinion about "Why Men Cheat."So, silly me, on I went.' Meredith Vieira asked the three panelists, "Why do men cheat?"' Panelist' #1 said that the legacy of promiscuous cavemen has created an evolutionary tendency toward infidelity among today's men.'' Hmmm.Panelist #2 said something to the effect that men often cheat because they are missing something physically, mentally or emotionally in their relationship with someone.' Who might be responsible for this missing "something" was not specifically mentioned.' Hmm....could it be the wife?' The boss?' Co-workers?So Panelist #3 (that's me) responded: "Men need validation.' When they come into the world they are born of women and getting their validation from mommy is the beginning of needing it from a woman.' And when the wife does not focus in on the needs and the feelings, sexually, personally to make him feel like a man, to make him feel like a success, to make him feel like a hero, he's very susceptible to the charms of some other woman making him feel what he needs.' And these days women don't spend a lot of time thinking about how they can give a man what they need." Maybe I should have had a sign around my neck that said I was not talking specifically about the governor of New York's current alleged problems with money transfers and a $5,000 an hour call-girl ring.' Certainly a man who won the governorship of the second largest state in the nation does not sound like a man who needs validation to feel like a success.' I was answering the question asked:' "Why do men cheat?"Suddenly, the topic WAS about the New York governor.' To my utter amazement, Panelist #1 proclaimed that the New York governor's high cheekbones and protuberant eyebrows indicated high levels of testosterone which would be a strong indicator of infidelity.Panelist #2 said that, speaking of testosterone, highly testosteroned people tend not to worry as much about the consequences of the risks they take.' (I guess that explains the use of steroids in baseball).Ms. Vieira then asked why a man of such power as the New York governor would risk everything to carry on a tawdry relationship.' Note: This was the first time that Ms. Vieira referred to the governor in any way in the entire segment.' Panelist #3 (that's me!) responded: "When a person is in a high position of power, especially a man, there is a sense of entitlement and a sense of being...above the law because of the importance of what they do -' because of the importance of who they are." Since that fleeting moment, I have been accused of the most heinous of crimes (apparently far worse than the foibles of politicians and celebrities):' giving my opinion and advice. According to The New York Times, Meredith Vieira was "aghast" at my comments.' In the 10 am hour, Ann Curry tried to take me to task for "things that were said about the governor."' Wrong!' And finally the renowned News Team at The Huffington Post proclaimed "Dr. Laura Blames Spitzer's Wife".In three segments over 2 hours I never made a comment about the Governor's wife.' And my only direct comment about the Governor was that powerful men sometimes feel an unwarranted sense of entitlement.' I answered the question they asked, not the question I've been accused of answering.Now here's the good news.' Thank goodness I had bought a new outfit for the program, and I was feeling pretty good yesterday morning, or else I might have gotten a little ticked off that my words were so ludicrously taken out of context.If you don't believe me, feel free to go to the videotape ( click here ).' And don't whine for me.' I'm having a great time in New York - good friends, good restaurants, and almost-Spring weather.On a more serious note:' The stories that we see on the news and the Internet 24/7 indicate an epidemic of dysfunctionality in America in the relationships of the powerful, talented, and merely famous.' The sad part is it is only the tip of the iceberg in our society.' And sadder still is knowing that so many children are being hurt by these problems. More >>

Tags: AdulteryInfidelityInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMarriage
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05/13/2010
IconReuters' Julie Steenhuysen wrote a news essay recently which was a real shocker.' She quoted Janis Wolak of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire in Durham: A lot of the characterizations that you see in Internet safety information suggest that sex offenders are targeting very young children and using violence and deception against their victims.... Especially since social networking sites became popular, people are suggesting that these offenders are using information to stalk and abduct their victims.' We are not seeing those types of cases.' The great majority of cases we have seen involved young teenagers, mostly 13, 14, 15 year old girls who are targeted by adults on the Internet who are straightforward about being interested in sex. From the perspective of the victim, these are romances. Among the study's other findings:* Internet offenders pretended to be teenagers in only 5% of the crimes studied.* Nearly 75% of victims who met offenders did so more than once.* Youths at risk have "buddy lists" including strangers, and they discuss sex online with strangers.* Boys who are gay or questioning their sexuality are more susceptible to Internet-initiated sex crimes than other populations, resulting in 15% of criminal cases.Other than religious institutions, there is virtually nothing in our society that elevates sexuality to a spiritual status.' This is the result of a society which takes kids out of school (without parental notification) for abortions; which has peer sex classes showing how to put condoms on bananas; which has "sex fairs" at major colleges and universities; which has porn as mainstream, primetime television and advertising; which has practically naked models in store windows for Abercrombie & Fitch and Victoria's Secret; which has families repeatedly torn apart by busy, "two parent career" homes, divorce, re-marriage, shack-ups, and other adult misbehaviors that emotionally devastate children who look elsewhere for love and comfort.'What is normalized is yearned for by children who want to be "adults." More >>

Tags: BudgetEconomyFamily/Relationships - TeensInternet-MediaInternet/MediaSexSocial NetworkingTeens
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05/13/2010
IconOne mother in Huntington Beach, California went through ten lawyers until she found Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute ( pacificjustice.org , a non-profit that advocates for the rights of students and parents) to help her.' All the other attorneys suggested she was a "prude" and chastised her about not being up to speed with 2007.Her advocacy prompted the Huntington Beach Union High School District trustees to consider a proposal that would regulate movies in the classroom.' The proposal would require teachers to obtain parental permission before showing portions of R-rated movies.' The policy essentially discourages the use of R-rated movies in the classroom.' Evidently, the Huntington Beach district did not have a written policy.' How convenient.'Mr. Dacus is quoted in the Orange County Register of January 15, 2008 ( www.ocregister.com/news/movies-kazor-policy-1959439-teachers-school ) as saying: "The garbage they showed these children...was a very serious breach of parental trust." The mother said: "These teachers are supposed to be us when we're not there.' They're supposed to be role models.' I wanted the opportunity to have the permission sent to me in the form of a permission slip." Taking up classroom time showing a whole movie seems to me to be a lazy way to approach a teaching job.' Recommending a movie to students and then sending a memo home to the parents making that suggestion and explaining its value, seems a more responsible and professional means to what is supposed to be an "educational" aid. More >>

Tags: EducationInternet-MediaInternet/MediaParentingSchool
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