Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
We overslept and missed the school bus. After returning a must-do email from my daughter's teacher, I rushed her to school just in time -- realizing on the way I forgot to put the PTA newsletter in her backpack. A parent was waiting to make 600 copies today.
It wasn't ready anyway -- a rainy-day car accident added an hour to my commute last night, making me late for a meeting. After the meeting, a dear friend from out of town stopped by unexpectedly -- and visiting with her was a lot more fun than finishing that newsletter!
So I woke up behind the eight-ball. I quick-finished the newsletter, emailed it, left a hardcopy at my door for my PTA buddy, and cleaned up the "accident" my long-since potty trained preschooler had on my favorite sofa this morning (why today?!) That couldn't wait till after work -- but I had to run up and down 42 steps on a sprained ankle to get it done!
Finally -- breathless -- I was on my way to begin my day.
I remembered what my pastor once told me: success is 90% attitude. So I started thinking positively. I'm alive, healthy, employed and didn't skid off the rain-slicked roads. What other good things happened this morning?
- My daughter learned to be more self-sufficient (she had to - I couldn't help today)
- I made her education a priority by emailing the teacher back
- My PTA colleagues learned they can count on me to meet deadline, even in a pinch
- Barring any more accidents, my living room will smell nice and fresh this evening -- and maybe that huge box of Oxyclean I didn't have time to put back will inspire DH or teen daughter to spruce up the house before I get home (okay, now I'm dreaming!)
God must have known I needed a break because when I got to work, the best possible parking spot opened right up for me!What a great day!
Monday, October 22, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
This is a "mom" day.
Sometimes we mothers can find ourselves doing the strangest things.
We go to church on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The other night my 4-year-oldson had homework, so I brought it to church. My daughter ended up being ill, so I sat in the church bathroom letting her rest most of the service. Great, I thought - we can do homework while we're in here.
But I didn't realize the homework involved cutting and pasting. I hadn't thought to bring glue sticks so... improvise... improvise... so we used lip gloss from Mommy's purse instead! Then, of course, my son wanted to TRY ON the lip gloss!
Ever have a wierd mommy (or daddy) moment? Do share!
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I learned there are some devices on the market that will "beep" to remind you if you've left the baby in its car seat. (So as not to advertise, I'll let you Google them.) But there's a pretty strong debate about whether manufacturers should be reminding parents "Oh, don't forget your CHILD!" -- or whether parents just need to slow down their lifestyles and responsibilities and put their most important priorities -- their children -- first.
As a parent of two little ones, I can't say (thankfully) that I've ever forgotten them in the car. But I've certainly had that debate with myself about whether it's safe to leave them locked inside for 30 seconds while I run back into the house to get something I forgot. Or whether they'll be OK sitting in the car while I run in the mini-mart to get a soda ("I can see them through the window.") Strapping them in and out of those car seats is such a hassle that these things DO cross your mind.
Another parent offered this perspective:
"We're concerned what may happen to the kids, but what about what may happen to YOU? What if you're hit by a car running into the mini-mart, and you've left the kids alone?"
I hadn't thought about it that way.
So many choices to make, to keep our most precious possessions... safe.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
But I must say, for the last 3 months I've missed morning mayhem, homework, packing lunches and all the wonderful chaos that comes with having kids in school. Tonight's our "Back to School" night, so I'll get to meet my daughter's teacher for the first time.
This year I decided to get involved in the PTA and see what that's all about. What I like so far is that I get a heads up on everything happening at school before it happens.
Evenings are totally different. Instead of grilling on the deck and watching the stars, it's "eat your dinner - do your homework - time for bed."
Thursday, August 30, 2007
The National Institutes of Health announced new guidelines for treating asthma. Instead of just focusing on attacks, NIH wants doctors to spend more time on prevention. They want patients to get written plans on how to manage the disease. And they want doctors to periodically monitor a patient's lung function to determine future risk -- even if they have few symptoms.
Why the focus? For one, kids are going back to school, where they're likely to catch colds. Colds are a major trigger for asthma attacks. I know all about that. We start listening for wheezing at the first sign of a cough.
Also, asthma's becoming a huge and costly problem -- 22 million adults and 6.5 million children have it. The CDC says for kids it's increasing 4 percent a year. And asthma deaths among children have tripled in the last 30 years. Every year, asthma causes 14 million lost school days.
So it's a big problem. But be encouraged -- some kids DO grow out of it. I hope mine is one of them.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Symantec -- which makes the popular Norton virus protection for your computer -- commissioned a poll about kids outsmarting their parents online. Here are some highlights:
- Kids spend more than twice as much time online as parents think (7 hours a week)
- almost 1/4 do things online that "their parents wouldn't approve of"
- 1/5 have dealt with inappropriate materials online
- almost 1/5 have been "cyber-bullied" (receiving embarrassing pix, video or messages)
- 7% have met an online stranger in person
- almost half of parents use controls and spy on their kids emails and web sites
- most parents say they know more about the Internet than their kids, but half of the kids say THEY know more
So keep your eyes wide open!
A couple of warnings from the FDA this week:
- Rice sold online to lower cholesterol could cause kidney problems
- Contaminated oysters from Washington State can cause diarrhea, cramping, nausea, fever, and chills for 3 days
Also this week, a panel of scientific experts from the National Institutes of Health said the chemical "Bisphenol A" -- found in baby bottles, hard plastic sports bottles, water fountain containers and children's dental sealants -- likely does NOT cause prostate cancer and reproductive problems as critics claimed. But they are concerned about neural and behavioral effects. Here's more on what the scientists, critics, and plastics industry have to say.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
I'm reading the details and hope to give you the highlights tomorrow.
In the meantime, go get your kids off the computer and eat dinner together. :)
"The media gripe I have is the rush to judgment and the sensationalist piece - it really does seem like the reporters on some stations have insulated themselves so much from feeling that they appear disappointed if the death count goes down."
It reminds me of a news producer I worked with who often read her Bible. Once, on a very slow news night, she looked up from the Bible to the newsroom scanner, and said: "We really need a lead [story] tonight. I hope we get a good house fire or [car] crash."
Then she went right back to reading -- as if that was the most normal thing in the world to say.
I'm not making excuses, but let me try to explain -- based on my experience covering breaking news -- how this happens:
When a big story happens, there's a HUGE adrenaline rush in the newsroom. In an instant people are running around, grabbing gear, running out the door, working the phones, making flight arrangements, dialing up satellites, sending out live trucks, desperately looking for information, and running to the studio to report it. Your sense of horror about the event quickly falls on the back burner in the massive effort to cover the story. And get it on the air. And get it first. And get it right. Because that's what creates loyal viewers... and ratings... which draw advertisers... who pay your check.
At first, you're so involved in the logistics of doing your job that there's little time to think about -- or feel -- anything else.
The sensationalism, I think, comes from an insatiable demand for 24-7 news. Whether that's truly fueled by viewers, or the media, is a valid question. But the fact is, when you're reporting on the scene of breaking news, the producer at the station (with the News Director breathing down his/her neck to beat the competition) comes to you live over and over wanting "new" information when, often, there is none. So any small tidbit becomes larger than life.
For instance, if you see a diver come out of the water shaking his head, reporters may say:
- "Rescuers have "apparently" become discouraged, wondering if they'll ever find all the victims" - leading to speculation about whether the death toll is rising. So the producer calls in an expert to talk about the psychological effects.
- "Rescuers "appear" frustrated, realizing this is a much bigger job than they can handle." That can open a whole debate about whether the county has enough divers, and whether the mayor's doing enough to get help in this crisis. So another reporter is assigned to do a package on how the city has cut funds for rescue services.
All this from a guy shaking his head. Maybe he was just wet and shaking off water.
It's not responsible and certainly not an excuse. I'm just trying to explain how these things happen.
Then, once you're out there, you see the network guys arrive and think: "I'd love to do THAT job one day!" So you focus on your on-air presence and delivery, hoping some News Director or agent will see you on a satellite feed and pull you out of Smalltown, Alabama (no offense - I lived there!) into a bigger market. That motivates you get the best elements for your story, so you can "stand out." That prompts you to rudely stick a microphone in the face of a grieving mother and ask: "What are you thinking as divers search for your missing son's body?" -- then get her answer on TV as soon as possible.
As someone who's had to do those interviews, let me say this: MOST reporters hate doing it. It is, however, part of our job to show what victims' families are going through. I've found two things to be true. First, there are respectful and disrespectful ways to approach families in sensitive situations like this. Second, some people WANT to be on TV when they're grieving. Some find it cathartic. Some want to get their loved one's story out there, so they're not remembered as just a statistic. For those people, we give ample opportunity. For those who want privacy, we should respect it.
Hope that gives you some insight.
News Mom T
Friday, August 03, 2007
Then suddenly, in a moment -- life changes. Or ends.
Actually, it makes me thankful. Watching this coverage has been horrifying. I realize every car I see in the water was a life - or several lives. People with hopes, dreams, problems, marriages, mortgages. Just like me.
In news we're often accused of being sensational, but in this case, I think the "could it happen here" story is completely warranted. Most people driving over a bridge today must be wondering if it's safe or about to give way.
Having covered many tragedies, I know the anguish some of those reporters feel. Often we mask our feelings to get through it and break down later. Sadly, there are a few who have become so immune that they never really grasp that this is a real tragedy affecting real people -- not just the best story ever on your resume tape.
But it's hard to watch the tearful families, day after day. I can't imagine what it's like to BE one. A few years ago we covered a string of missing and murdered children's cases. There's always a "sympathy wall" where friends and neighbors place flowers, notes, balloons as a makeshift memorial. It's always so sad.
After about the fifth one, I was doing a live shot and my producer asked if I wanted to go to the sympathy wall and shoot video. I just couldn't do it - not again. The grief had started to weigh in.
A few weeks later, a cute little girl about my daughter's age went missing from a neighborhood near mine. Authorities announced they found her body miles away as I was preparing for a live shot. I couldn't stop the tears. I guess that one just hit too close to home. I did get it together in time to do my job, but to this day I often think of her when children are reported missing.
A sign of weakness? Not fit for my job? Maybe. But I like to think it's a sign of being HUMAN -- a really important quality of a good reporter.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
- Robin Roberts has breast cancer
- An TV producer depressed after being let go for drug abuse fell off a building and died
- A Pittsburg anchor who'd been depressed is off the air
- Tom Snyder died
- Four chopper pilots and photographers died in a crashed covering a chase
- A few more news people died and retired
and the GOOD news:
- Another chopper came down but all 3 survived
Fun? Not. A coworker said: "People used to complain that the news was depressing. Now the news ABOUT the news is depressing."
I've got to wonder if we've fallen in a rut and don't know HOW to report good news --
or is the business really that bad?
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
News changes constantly and so can our surroundings. I remember reading the average tenure for a news director is two years. When news managers come and go, they often take our co-workers with them. And digital TV is forcing all sorts of personnel changes.
It's challenging to do great work on deadline when you're concerned about the livelihoods of yourself and your co-workers. In a way, that's a good thing. It reminds me I'm not just a news machine, but a real, caring human being.
Facing change can be scary -- or exciting, depending on how you look at it. Some of my best opportunities in life have come after what I initally thought was a disaster. Of course, that lesson is best understood after the storm -- not when you're in the middle of it.
Today we're reporting on wounded soldiers having trouble getting benefits. These are men and women who lost limbs, can’t sleep, have terrible headaches and live with horrible nightmares that are REAL – yet they can’t get a doctor’s care or money to support their families when they can’t work.
Talk about being in the middle of the storm!
Perspective helps us put a fresh look on everything, doesn’t it?
Friday, July 20, 2007
After taking several months off to re-assess, I decided I missed this blog! So many of you asked "What happened?" that I realized we must have made an impact. Or at least made you laugh. Or think.
I'm hoping to recruit other News Moms to contribute from time to time. In the meantime, look forward to some interesting tidbits, news-you-can-use, and personal reflections.
It's good to be home!