Friday, August 23, 2013

Aljazeera Whaaat?

I can't wait to see what the " new voice" of news in America has to say. We watched our first segment of Aljazeera America last night and I must say I was impressed.  Ever since the school massacre in Newtown, there have been very few investigative stories that focus on the proliferation of gun violence in our country.  Aljazeera apparently owes no debt to the NRA and is not afraid to shine a light on the number of shootings taking place in Chicago.  The first segment was last night, and the second is tonight.  The veteran newswoman, Joie Chan, is excellent, as is every other journalist I have seen on this network.  One of my favorites is Ali Velchi who I have previously watched on anorher network.

Here are the names of the editorial team for Aljazeera.  Relax, none of them are named Mohammed!

The editorial team will be led by Kate O'Brian, a 30-year ABC News veteran who will take over as president of the network.

She will be joined by David Doss and Shannon High-Bassalik, who will join from CNN as senior vice-presidents, and Marcy McGinnis, a former journalism associate dean who worked at CBS News.

Ehab al-Shihabi will serve as interim chief executive officer of the network, according to an announcement made by Al Jazeera's acting director-general, Mostefa Souag.

Five Questions with Kate O'Brian, Al Jazeera America's newly
appointed president:

 Why Al Jazeera? 
This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to create a news product that I think is sorely missing in the American media landscape right now. There is a great history of quality journalism at Al Jazeera, and I am looking forward to bringing all that to Al Jazeera America. 

O'Brian, a former senior vice-president at ABC News who began her career there as an intern, will be based at the network's headquarters in New York City, and "will have full responsibility for defining and implementing the editorial strategy and operations across the network, including news, documentary and all other programming", according to the statement.

In an interview, O'Brian told Al Jazeera English, AJAM's sister network, that there was "a gap" in the US news media landscape that her channel would be seeking to fill.

"Coming into the American news landscape, the opportunity to innovate is something Al Jazeera can bring into the equation. We can start from scratch, producing in-depth, quality content for the viewers who are looking for something different. It will be a new product, not incremental tweaks in existing news formats," she said.

Al-Shihabi said at the end of June that Al Jazeera had hired 650 employees and planned to air 8 minutes of commercials per hour, which is below the industry standard of about 15 minutes.

Interestingly, the channel that the network purchased, Current TV, was sold to Aljazeera by none other than that great American, Al Gore.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Nothing Lasts Forever

As the grandmother of five (seven if you count the two we have taken care of since they were infants) I get lots of phone calls from parents who need to vent.  With one grandson now out of his teenage years, and two who are in the throes of that challenging time, I can recognize good advice when I see it.  Michael L. Stoller, LCSW, lists the common sense suggestions that will help any parent survive and even keep enjoying their teenagers.  Wherever Stoller says "your son," you can substitute "your daughter."

Respect your son’s integrity and his authority over his own life.
Have faith that whatever you want to tell your son, you have told him already and he will remember it when the time comes.
Offer help with an open hand.
Try offering help in the form of a question.  “Would you like…?” or “How can I help?”
Be responsible and manage your own helplessness and fear without imposing it on him.
Never offer advice without asking permission first.
Tell your son “I love you. I am proud of you. I know you have what it takes. You are a wild man.”  Do this thousands different ways.
Be around not only physically, but also emotionally.
Walk your talk (i.e. if you want your son to be healthier, look at how you are taking care of your own health).
Be vulnerable.  Share some of your fears, worries, and uncertainties with him.
Admit when you are wrong and apologize frequently.
Be selfish.  Fill yourself up first prior to giving yourself away.
Always be cool and calm in the face of his distress, anger, or sadness.
Listen to your son even if he is yelling at you.
Say as little as possible in order to get your son to say as much as possible.
Use “I” statements.  Talk more about your feelings than his behavior.
Gauge your son’s mood prior to having tough conversations.
Drop everything you are doing if your son wants to talk to you.  This opportunity does not come frequently.
Let go of your pride (i.e. you don’t need to have the last word).
Focus on the 90% he is doing well instead of the 10% he is not.
THIS TIME WILL PASS! He won’t be a teenager forever.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ammonia hydroxide for lunch, anyone?

On Facebook today a friend posted a story that would make you puke up your lunch - especially if that lunch was a Big Mac.  The story told of the chef, Jamie Oliver's ongoing battle with Macdonald's and their practice of using "pink slime" in their burgers.

According to the FB account, the fatty parts of beef are “washed” in ammonium hydroxide and used in the filling of the burger. Before this process, according to Oliver, the food is deemed unfit for human consumption.

 “Basically, we’re taking a product that would be sold in the cheapest way for dogs, and after this process, is being given to human beings.”

Besides the low quality of the meat, the ammonium hydroxide is harmful to health. Oliver calls it “the pink slime process.”

“Why would any sensible human being put meat filled with ammonia in the mouths of their children?” asked the chef, who wages a war against the fast food industry.

To be fair, a response was published in Beef Daily on August 13, 2013.  

Here is part of the article by Amanda Radke:
"It’s been more than a year since the industry was “pink-slimed,” a term coined by ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer and British food blogger Jamie Oliver. The term, of course, was the sensational characterization of lean finely textured beef (LFTB). LFTB is a 100% beef product produced by a process developed by Beef Products Inc. (BPI) of Dakota Dunes, SD, which separates fat from lean in beef trim. Until the sensational ABC News expose, LFTB was commonly used as an ingredient in school lunch programs and fast-food burgers. The fact is that billions of pounds of the product have been produced and consumed over the years without any reported problems.

The news report, and the resulting social media campaign, created such a hysteria that demand for LFTB dried up, and BPI was forced to close three of its four LFTB plants and lay off 650 employees. BPI then sued ABC News and others for defamation, and that case continues. But the nasty connotation in consumers' minds that beef is tainted with chemicals persists.

In fact, that notion is being perpetuated by Oliver’s most recent musings. His war against the fast-food industry has been largely aimed at McDonald’s, which announced earlier this year that the chain will revise its burger recipe to exclude LFTB."

So, shining a light on the fast food industry did have an effect.  Maybe more parents will weigh the convenience of the Macdonald's drive-through against the idea that they really don't know what's in that food they are buying for their little soccer players.

The food scientists are busy in their labs right now trying to come up with some other process, just as gross, to increase their profits.