Monthly Archives: January 2018

Decluttering Blueprint – Step 4 – Organizing Your Family Room

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Is the gathering area (a.k.a. family room, living room, den, great room) in your home chaotic and cluttered? If so, try the following prescription to create a calm, comfortable and orderly space you’ll love to relax in and entertain family and friends.

  1. Pin down the purpose(s) of your room. Is it your intention to use the family room as a place to watch a movie, curl up and read, play with the kids, take a short nap and gather with friends? Whether you have the foregoing functions in mind or something different, move objects unrelated to the purpose of your room (shoes, clothing and the ironing board) to other more appropriate quarters of your home.
  2. Specify the major categories of items to be kept in your family room. For example:
  • Reading – books, magazines and newspapers
  • Media – TV, VCR, DVD, stereo, videos, CD’s, DVD’s and remotes
  • Toys – dolls, action figures and vehicles
  • Games – board games, puzzles and cards
  • Collections – photos, baseball paraphernalia, etc.
  • Sort everything in your family room into piles that represent the major categories identified in step #2. Begin with all surface items, and then move to objects stored in baskets, drawers, and cabinets. Smart tip: If you haven’t edited your belongings for a number of years, you will find it easier to sort large quantities of things by using a large box to hold the contents of each major category; the boxes will ensure your piles don’t spill over and get mixed up.
  • Cut out the clutter and organize what remains. Working with one category at a time, evaluate each item using the following rules: don’t keep anything you don’t love or use; reduce multiples of any single item; recycle all but the current issue of magazines and newspapers; dispose of broken and unwanted items by pitching them, giving them to someone else, selling, or donating them. Then put the remainder of items in order. For example, eliminate: duplicate pictures, out-of-focus pictures, and unflattering pictures. Then arrange the pictures you want to keep by date or theme, such as home, family, school, vacations, etc. Smart tip: As you’re weeding out clutter from each major category, let go of 20% more stuff than you have room for, that way new acquisitions will have a ready made home.
  • Arrange your room for comfort and functionality. When you have one space that serves multiple functions, consider setting up your room in zones – each to accommodate a different activity. For instance:
    • Reading and gaming. Place a game table and chairs where you have a good light source, it makes a great spot for perusing the paper and playing board games. The same table top can also double as a place to set out snacks when you have friends over. Mount shelving or spot a bookcase on an adjacent wall to house books and gaming materials.
    • Watching TV. Pick a good place to locate your TV and hide electronic gear in cabinetry if you don’t want to see it. Coordinate the arrangement of key seating pieces so you can readily see the screen (and take advantage of the view, if applicable). Position a magazine rack nearby and toss a throw over a plush armchair so you can cover up and catch a cat-nap when it’s chilly.
    • Playing. Tuck toys into baskets or storage ottomans that blend with the aforementioned zones. These types of containers offer an ideal way to store distracting clutter and make the family room a welcoming adult space after the kids have drifted off to dreamland.
  • If needed, use containers you have around your home to accessorize and containerize items that are easy to access. Family rooms are a magnet for books, papers, magazines, and supplies that get piled on the floor and table tops. However, you can organize these items with budget friendly solutions you likely have around your home.
    • Shoe boxes of the same size and color can be used to corral photos, letters, CD’s and more. Using multiple containers with the same color and symmetry will elevate the ordinary into an appealing collection.
    • Fruit crates, baskets, and sturdy totes can be used to hold books, magazines and newspapers.
    • Pottery, glass jars, and mugs are good holders for pens, clips, rubber bands, and push pins.
    • Ice cube trays, muffin tins, box lids, and cutlery trays make great drawer organizers.
    • Vintage luggage and picnic baskets stacked on top of each other work well as side tables and make for durable, attractive storage.
  • Slip items you want to confine into their new vessel and place them where they’ll be pretty and practical. That’s it! You now have a family room that’s organized, easy to clean, and makes smart use of your space.
  • Stay tuned-the next addition of the Decluttering Blueprint will be released soon.

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    All-Around Self Improvement From Satellite TV

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    Interested in self improvement but not quite sure where to start? The information to make ourselves better versions of what we are is out there, but many people cringe at the price tags between them and getting their hands on expert advice via books, magazines, videos, and how-to guides. Instead, why not get all the same information right from your living room? Turning on your satellite TV may be more beneficial to your health and wellbeing than you’d ever imagined. From health and fitness, to home repairs and saving the planet, all the tools you need can be found by picking up your remote control. Don’t worry about spending another dime on a DIY video. Get all the best visual instruction in HD without ever leaving your home with these great “self improvement” channels.

    Discovery Health. Dedicated to all aspects of a healthy body, watching Discovery Health is a great way to improve everything from your sleep pattern to skin without seeking a professional opinion. All aspects of health are covered such as diseases and conditions, diet and fitness, healthy living, mental health, pregnancy and parenting, and sex and relationships. Not sure how stress is affecting your health? Need some heart healthy recipes? Not sure what to do after discovering breast cancer runs in the family? Discovery Health can be a great place to start.

    DIY Network. Everyone has a list of home improvements that should be made. The trend, however, is to leave the items on this list unattended until there is no waiting longer. Instead of not calling in the plumber until the basement floods or not hiring a contractor until the roof caves in, try your hand at self home improvements with the DIY Network. Learn how to do everything yourself when it comes to home repairs, installations, and more from painting, to windows, walls, doors, floors, decorating, remodeling, electrical, plumbing, bathroom, kitchen and outdoors. Building valuable home skills while saving some money… now that is a satellite TV channel everyone can appreciate.

    Fit TV. Like to stay fit and in shape, but aren’t quite sure what you can do in the 20 minutes you have free during the day? Make good use of your time without ever leaving the living room with Fit TV. Enjoy fun workout programs, without the time and price tag attached to specialty classes at the gym. Learn not only how to work your body, but keep it healthy with recipes and nutrition advice. From Yoga to belly dancing, there is a fun new way for everyone to get fit when it comes to Fit TV.

    Food Network. While cooking your way through Julia Child’s book may not be an option for every aspiring chef, there is a great way to learn without ever taking a cooking class. Turning the TV to the Food Network, viewers fin d a wide range of cooking shows featuring every type of cooking adventure from baking to family meals, grilling to health food. Learn about the ingredients, techniques and flavors that make top cooks stand out, and bring the delicious advice out of the TV screen and home into your kitchen. Anyone who can see these tasty treats in high definition without running to the kitchen has entirely too much willpower!

    Planet Green. Want to help the environment, but aren’t sure where to start? Planet Green can help with valuable information on how every aspect of our lives can be “greener.” From fashion and beauty, to food and health, home and garden, technology and transport, travel and outdoors, working, and connecting with other environmentally minded activists, it’s never been easier to see what is at the forefront of Earth-Smart media.

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    Satellite TV Technology – Know How it Works

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    Satellite TV has brought about a revolution in the world of television. A modern broadcasting technology has been incorporated in it. The technology involves the usage of a set top box and a satellite dish for receiving the television broadcast through the communication satellites.

    The greatest advantage of satellite TV is that it has a wider range of coverage and therefore, it can access even those areas where the cable or terrestrial television systems do not function. It can be rightly said that this network provides entertainment to the people in almost every corner of the world.

    Nowadays, these television networks are being used in three different modes to make you avail them. The technology has been devised in such a way that television can be directly received by your own satellite dish at home. It can be received by your local TV affiliates or can also be distributed across the cable systems after reception through head-ends.

    Most companies in the television market are offering direct view of satellite TV. A DBS (direct broadcast satellite) provider is used for programming the dish receiver at your home. This enables you to view it directly on your television set.

    Today’s generation has hardly got any time to get bored. The numerous TV channels received by the satellite dish and the set top box in their house provide them with uninterrupted entertainment. The reception is not just limited to the television screen. Technology in the recent days have made it possible for you to view television in your laptop or desktop. That is why we say uninterrupted entertainment. No matter where you are, with the Satellite TV at your service, you can watch your favorite program at any time of the day.

    The costs involved in availing such services are quite reasonable. The companies in the market are offering handsome packages, which are worth purchasing as far as the quality of entertainment is concerned. The Satellite TV provides high resolution pictures on your television screen. It ensures great picture quality along with unlimited entertainment for a lifetime that makes it worth purchasing even if it costs you a few extra bucks.

    Of all the five hundred or more channels offered by the TV, many of them are educationally helpful. Thus, learning and entertainment go hand in hand. The kids of today are surrounded by gadgets and they hardly find any interest in learning from books. But they do like to fijit with the mouse or the remote control, and so these channels are a great resource for them to learn. Besides, several channels in various languages from all around the world can easily be viewed on just a click of the remote button or the mouse of your PC. If there is any kind of channel left other than the usual ones, the satellite TV provides with you all.

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    Western Digital WD TV Live Review

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    Okay! Here goes my first gadget review. I am going to tell about a very cool bit of technology innovation called Western Digital WD TV Live player. A small cute device that is going to change the way you viewed connected media before!

    Honestly speaking I didn’t appreciate this amazing piece of work when my husband bought it. Well he is a gadget freak or more rightly an electronics-shopaholic. But just like any shopaholics he has his own way of convincing why that was a ‘can’t live without’ stuff. I was really skeptical if any of his reasoning was going to even convince me on this. But this time, it was the product that convinced me! I’d not say that it’s a gadget you can’t live without, but I’d definitely say its worth every penny for its versatility.

    Features:

    Full-HD 1080p video playback.

    Plays almost all types of media

    Audio – MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV/PCM/LPCM, AAC, FLAC, Dolby Digital, AIF/AIFF, MKA

    Photo – JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, PNG

    Video – MPEG1/2/4, WMV9, AVI (MPEG4, Xvid, AVC), H.264, MKV, MOV (MPEG4, H.264),MTS, TP, TS

    Playlist PLS, M3U, WPL Subtitle -SRT (UTF-8), SMI, SUB, ASS, SSA

    Doesn’t require a Western Digital networked device to be able to play the media in it.

    Live streaming from YouTube, Flickr, Pandora, and Live365. What’s more here?? You can login to your personal accounts in these internet media sites and play just your favorites! (Unfortunately Netflix and Picasa are missing.)

    Comes with a good remote control.

    Hitches:

    Yeah it does have few hitches.

    1. Though the network setup is really simple (just have to plug-in the cable from router), a small mistake in setting up file sharing in connected PCs can take ages to resolve. I personally had this problem (I had one Win7 laptop and one Win XP laptop – WD in fact offered to take the device back as they couldn’t say why I couldn’t connect to the networked laptops. Thankfully I had sense enough to Google for the solution and we were able to do the network media sharing!)

    2. No inbuilt wireless connectivity. But this can be excused as streaming media over the network is better when its wired rather than wireless. (We did try the Wireless-N adapter, but it works pretty good as our router is also 802.11 draft2 N class – but definitely not as good as having it hard connected). So what’s the hitch? The extra bucks that you’ll have to throw in for the wireless adapter (and a N router).

    Final Word:

    This all in one wonder box is sure enough worth the money and will have you hooked on to it. Its a real piece of entertainment – Go for it! Its time for you to experience the good things that come in this small package.

    Read more: http://mymindstalk.blogspot.com/2010/09/western-digital-wd-tv-live-review.html

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    Media Server – 5 Simple Steps to Convert Your Old PC Into a Media Streamer

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    Yesterday while hanging out in my attic among all the old stuff I come across my old PC. This computer has been laying there for the last for at least a couple years. Thinking of discarding it properly I started searching for articles on disposal on the internet. While searching for couple of minutes I found a site suggesting the idea of converting an old PC into a media server. Having some bucks to spare and some free time on my hands I decided to go for it.

    Just What is a Media Server?

    First thing first I am sure some of you are wondering like I initially was, just what is a Media Server. A Media Server is a PC system designed to receive and record TV programs, play back video and handle the digital music and photo libraries available in its storage through a Television unit connected to it. The main components are a robust storage system with ample hard drive space and processing power and Random Access Memory sufficient enough to deliver seamless playback of HD content.

    1. Check the performance of your old pc:

    Analyzing the old PC, I figured out that it has a 2.4 GHz Pentium IV processor with 256 MB of RAM. While checking the minimum specifications I found that it may struggle when trying to play the HD 1080 videos so I decided to go for a RAM upgrade to 1 GB and stick to the same processor in order to save some bucks in case I also needed to upgrade the hard drive.

    2. Check storage; examine hard drive capacity and speed:

    The storage capacity of the old PC is about 40 GB IDE drive; which is much less as compared to the latest media servers. Generally for a media server you should have a capacity of 500gb to have enough space to hold the equivalent of 100s of DVDs. Speed of the hard drives is also a consideration. Luckily both of these problems can be corrected with a raid hard drive array.

    RAID vs Single Hard drive:

    The RAID array consists of more than one hard drives embedded as a single unit for high capacity and speed than the single hard drive with an external backup. Depending on how the RAID array is configured you can also configure the array for back up security. This is an added benefit as no data would be lost in the event of a hard drive crash.

    3. Think about purchasing a Digital TV tuner Card:

    A digital TV tuner card is a basic component of media server used to receive and record video content from the local cable or satellite system to the local hard drive. This card is very useful as it will allow to input TV into your PC and record your favorite shows. With several companies charging fees as high $6 per DVR box per month, the one time cost of a TV tuner card could save you quite a bit of money in the long run.

    4. Choosing software for you media server:

    Windows XP Media Center Edition is a great choice of software for a media server; having a beautiful graphic interface and easy configuration, it is however a bit expensive. If you are strapped for cash Linux based operating systems might be a good choice as they are totally free and have Myth   TV  software for  media  server purpose; but they can be hard to configure.

    5. Connecting Server to the TV:

    The last step involved in this project is establishing a connection between the PC and the TV. You now have to make the decision on whether to connect the media server through a wired or wireless connection. Wireless systems can be more convenient and will allow you to access your media server from throughout your house. Furthermore in terms of the placement of the wireless systems the server can be hidden out of view. The drawback to wireless systems is that they can be expensive. If only a single TV unit is present then simply running a wire from the server to the TV may be better both in terms of cost and speed of setup.

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    Media Training 101: The 3 Biggest Media Interview Mistakes

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    Doing a media interview, whether it be in front of a television camera, in a radio studio or sitting down with a reporter or blogger, in-person or over the phone, has the tendency to make otherwise confident, eloquent people say really dumb stuff. You need look no further than the evening news – to those political hopefuls during election season – to see the proof.

    And it’s not just the big shots in the spotlight either. Often times, without any provocation, the little guy, too, can find himself suddenly answering to the media about a scandal in his industry, whether or not he or his company is personally involved.

    But there are a few simple strategies you can arm yourself with that will not only boost your confidence, but will also help you to speak with purpose, boosting your credibility with your customers and stakeholders.

    Of course, there’s nothing quite like stepping in front of a real TV camera to completely understand the media interview experience, but grasping the following concepts will get you well on your way. Show me somebody who says they were “misquoted” in the press and I bet I can show you where they committed at least one of the…

    3 Biggest Media Interview Mistakes

    1. Failing to Prepare Whether you’re going to the press or the press is coming to you, a media interview should rarely come as a surprise. Get your head out of the hole and do your homework. Thinking you can just “wing it” is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.

    Know what the issues are surrounding your organization and/or your industry. Don’t discount an issue just because you’re not comfortable with it – that’s surely what they’ll ask you about, whether you want them to or not. Expect it!

    2. Not Knowing Your Key Messages – Whether your media interview is proactive or reactive, knowing your key messages is crucial to making the interview work for you. Without your key messages, you’re merely coming off as reactionary, uninformed, or worse yet, defensive.

    No matter what a reporter asks you, you can ALWAYS tie-in one of your key messages. Pay close attention to someone who does a lot of media interviews and you’ll soon pick up on this technique. It takes practice, but great communicators know how to do this seamlessly.

    3. “No Comment” – Oh really?! Then you must be hiding something! That’s the message you’re sending when you answer with “No comment.” Even if you’re not hiding something, but you still feel like the only possible response is “no comment”, then you have committed egregious and unforgivable acts of #1 & #2 above!

    If you can’t speak on a particular subject, tell the reporter so and try to give a reason why. Then, hit ’em with a key message.

    Let’s be clear here… this is by no means an end-all list. We’ve merely scratched the surface of the many ways you can avoid a media interview meltdown. There are many other mistakes we see people make time and again when facing the media… mistakes that tarnish reputations and damage, or worse yet, destroy client relationships.

    And not all strategies are written in stone either. Absolutes are very tricky things. But by adopting these and other media interview strategies, you’ll be much less likely to ever have to utter, “I was misquoted!”

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    Streaming Video Using Real Media and Flash

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    In this article, we will examine two of the most commonly used formats for video streaming, Real media and Flash.

    Real Media video streaming

    Real Media was one of the first serious video streaming formats. When it was first introduced, it was widely heralded as one of the best platforms for streaming, however, it has been challenged in recent years by rivals from other software companies.

    One of the main objections many people have towards Real is that it requires users to download Real Player software. Although this is free, users are strongly encouraged to purchase the full version and this has led to many people shunning it in favour of other, more commonly used platforms. 

    From a technical point of view, the video images in Real Player tend to be less sharp than other formats. Moving images are reasonably well represented, however, the finer detail is often lost.

    These factors have meant that many users and developers have grown disillusioned with Real and its future as a video streaming platform looks in doubt.

    Flash video streaming

    Flash is one of the major contenders in the world of video streaming, and is the format most commonly favoured by developers. As it is one of the most common plug-ins, it is one of the most accessible formats, and as such, it is one of the most popular and widely used.

    Praised for its wide range of features, flash video streaming allows you to offer the most advanced media streaming available. As the most well-supported, cross-platform player, Flash enables interactive video and animations and advanced integration with web pages.

    On the downside, Flash is expensive and can be a complex platform to work with. In order to get the most from it, developers will have to use and get to grips with the Adobe Flash authoring program.

    Flash comes in two forms:.swf  is the standard type of file which is used in web pages, and .flv is a special format that can be called from within swf files.

    Streaming Video Using Flash

    As with most video streaming formats, Flash provides two different ways to deliver video from a web page.

    Streaming

    In order to stream Flash video, you will need to use a special type of server application called Flash Media Server (FMS). This is the most advanced solution and is suitable for those looking for the most bespoke and impressive video displays.

    Progressive Download

    Progressive download is the most commonly used and simple method of video streaming, requiring only a standard web hosting service. Despite its limitations, and the fact that it is not ‘true’ streaming, it is a more than adequate substitute for most people.

    This article was brought to you by Streaming Tank, who offer a range of web   TV ,  media  streaming and webcasting solutions for organisations across the U.K

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    Civility in the Media

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    In my forty years of broadcasting experience, I’ve fielded thousands of questions about my work; topics include covering news, anchoring programs, interviewing world leaders and celebrities, and yes, the glamor and excitement of it all. But I can’t remember anyone-whether on a street, in a classroom, or at a dinner party-ever questioning how news people behaved, or whether that behavior reflects our society.

    In my earliest days behind a microphone, I worked at a small radio station while finishing high school. That’s where I began learning the very foundations of journalism-accuracy, truth and fairness. Those principles have always stayed with me, from serving as a news assistant for the legendary Walter Cronkite at CBS to the unique public responsibility of owning a group of radio stations.

    From the moment that I walked into that newsroom at WKRO Radio in Boston, I knew I was in a different world-clearly, a strange place where all the stress of society found a home. As a kid from Nashua, New Hampshire, just out of college, I was about to get my first lesson in professional journalism. Newsrooms became my second home, and some of the characters in them were priceless mentors to me.

    TV News & Decreasing Standards of Civility

    The newsrooms where I have worked, for the most part, did not fit common definitions of civility. They’re generally loud, peppered with colorful language, and rarely well-organized; most are littered with used coffee cups, pizza boxes, and newspapers. It’s always been a wonder to me that somehow, this environment manages to lead to creativity and responsibility in communicating with a mass audience.

    What a rich heritage we have in broadcasting, from Edward R. Murrow and Peter Jennings to Walter Cronkite, once voted the most trusted man in America. Remember Chet Huntley and David Brinkley? It was nice to hear them say, “goodnight, Chet,” and “goodnight, David.” They were our heroes, and we stand on their shoulders.

    There were also rules in the early days of broadcasting – unwritten for the most part – that reflected the kind of society we were, and the standards we respected. To me, history and tradition are marvelous teachers. I wish young people heading into our business would spend as much time studying the events and personalities of the past as they do on technology and social media.

    Why We Should Be Careful On Air

    When we hit the air and go into millions of homes, it has to be with respect for those who watch and listen. We should be careful not to offend in any way and always aware of the trust placed in us. At times, however, politeness bumps up against the demands of reporting and the urgency to get the facts ahead of everyone else.

    We all have seen instances where a reporter will stick a microphone in the face of a person in anguish who has just lost a friend or relative, to ask questions that violate their privacy and make viewers squirm. How can we balance civility and privacy with the aggressiveness of a reporter and the immediacy of television?

    Sometimes, Attempts to be Civil Do Not Work

    And yet, there are times when an attempt at civility doesn’t work at all on the air. A number of years ago, we began introducing reporters live at the scene of a story by saying, “good evening,” and they would reply the same. It was a nice touch, a display of politeness between the anchor and reporter. But you can imagine how awkward that is when the story is a fire, a murder, or any event that’s anything *but *good.

    The same standards of civility don’t apply to every situation. While I believe positive stories should have a bigger presence on our screens and in our lives, it’s impossible to avoid tragic events altogether. When we do need to report on something that has disastrous repercussions for other living, breathing human beings, we must practice sensitivity. We must assume that a missing woman’s family is hearing our every word, or that our reports are being broadcast straight to the town affected by a natural disaster. When we cover a newsworthy event with many casualties, we should think less about the salacious details and more about the victims, who deserve our respect and whose loved ones need us to tell the truth, not to sensationalize or speculate or glorify.

    Historic Events that Shifted the Tide

    On the air, Edward R. Murrow often referred to members of his reporting staff as “Mister Collingwood” or “Mister Severeid.” This was civility with a touch of dignity. And there was more. For example, it was unthinkable for a journalist to interrupt a president while speaking. At that time it was considered rude, uncivil.

    The media aside, other things were different too. Men tipped their hats to women; kids obeyed their parents and cops on the street. For our purposes, it would be foolish to attempt to pinpoint a time when the country changed. Historians might say we lurched from one traumatic event to another.

    In television terms, it was the equivalent of a sharp, jolting cut from the Kennedy presidency to the years of civil rights demonstrations, from the murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. to protests against the Vietnam War.

    As these stories of anger and bloodshed were brought into America’s living rooms, lives were being turned upside down across the country. The civility we once had-however minute-was lost as a generation embraced a new culture on the streets and campuses, reflecting the turbulence of the era.

    About that same time in broadcasting, the peacefulness of Sunday morning- usually reserved for religious broadcasts-slowly disappeared. Some may still remember “The Eternal Light”, “Lamp Unto My Feet”, and other award-winning broadcasts. Now, of course, we have non-stop political shouting programs and other talk shows on the networks and on cable. The programming has changed.

    And through the years-through tough economic times, wars, national upheavals, and natural disasters-Americans have suffered, but we’ve always bounced back. So, as the pendulum of our lives went from one extreme to another, so did our civility.

    The State of Media Today

    It is easy to paint a negative picture of civil life right now. Gridlock in Washington, guns on the streets, terrorism, unemployment, and foreclosures are just a few of the challenges we face as a nation. And we’ve managed to keep some degree of civility, but we can do better.

    In order to consider the overall picture of civility in today’s media, it’s inevitable that we’ll have to spend a few minutes on reality shows, as well as the unrelenting bombardment of instant information and entertainment from cable TV and the Internet.

    From the Kardashians to Jersey Shore, when we turn on the TV, our children are mesmerized by lifestyles that encourage drinking, bad behavior, unhealthy habits and a lack of respect for family values. And that’s just early in the day. Evening programming, aimed at a more mature age group, brings us such “memorable” shows as the Real Housewives installments, Mob Wives, Dance Moms, Repo Men, and Bridezillas, all of which encourage conflict, drama, disrespect, and even crime. And then there are channels devoted to just about any kind of hobby or strange occupation.

    Then there’s YouTube, an outlet for video from the sublime to the ridiculous. It’s always on, and there are always people watching from every part of the world. Unfortunately, I must add, too many of the videos on YouTube also find their way onto news programs, just because of how bizarre-and usually uncivil-they are.

    Well, like anything, there’s good and bad. Cable and satellite technology do have a positive side. There are many quality channels that are educational and carry excellent, inspirational programs. We also have channels that provide community access and allow us to watch local government in action.

    At home, we are taught at an early age how to behave in speech and in manners. But media and technology have changed our culture. The violence we see in movies has be
    en carried out inside movie theaters too, hit music fills the radio waves with demeaning lyrics, tabloid magazines and TV devote more time to celebrities’ bizarre choices, and all of this contributes in some way to a breakdown in society.

    And now, another factor has become part of the equation. A survey of 1,000 American adults, taken by the public relations firm Weber Shandwick, found the level of civility has suffered further because of our country’s ongoing financial troubles. 49% of those questioned consider American CEOs uncivil. Given the Madoff scandal and the low level of trust in Wall Street, they certainly have a point. At the same time, the survey showed 81% of Americans hold the news media responsible for improving the way we treat each other. And so, in these early years of the 21st century, we are faced with a serious challenge.

    Civility & Truth

    Now, a few words about the blogosphere and social media. As someone who has spent his entire life in journalism, I strongly defend freedom of speech. But I believe that civility and truth go hand in hand. So at this point, I want to raise a red flag. When it comes to news, the key question is: what’s your source? Who *told *you this information? If the reply is a common one-“I saw it online”-then beware. The Internet is not necessarily the ultimate source for truth.

    And with the incredible speed and universal access of social media sites such as Twitter, news reporters have to be more careful than ever to sort out the truth, to get to the facts. More often these days, civility and truth disappear when the Internet is used as a playground for rumor mongers, hateful bloggers, and cyber-bullies. We’ve all witnessed the dangers attached to social media, mainly the horror of teenagers committing suicide because of cyber-bullying that followed them home on their smartphones and laptops.

    A survey conducted by Consumer Reports last year showed that 1 million American children were harassed, threatened, or targeted by hurtful comments and rumors. Teenage girls were more likely than boys to suffer this unimaginable experience. Social media is relatively young and has a role to play in society, but it has shown that it must be watched carefully. Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker put it this way: “The greatest threat to civility is the pandering to ignorance, the elevation of nonsense and the distribution of false information.”

    Ernie and the Big Newz: the Book’s Message

    We must find ways to turn down the volume of our national discourse and stop rewarding bad behavior, especially that of celebrities who fail as role models for our children. Those of us in the media-especially in the news business-have an obligation to society to clear the air. Adults want that. Even kids look for it.

    I regularly speak at local schools, and while the feedback and reaction is terrific, it is also eye-opening. Many young children tell me that they feel the only way they can become part of a news broadcast is to do something wrong, something bad.

    It is really no surprise, because it’s what they see when they watch the news. We mostly reward bad behavior. I believe that kind of thinking has to stop. I am deeply concerned about the unfortunate news events we cannot control and must report, which impacts everyone, especially children.

    So in response to hundreds of comments from adults and young people about the shortage of positive news stories, I wrote an upbeat children’s book called Ernie and the Big Newz: the Adventures of a TV Reporter. The book is about making career choices and believing in yourself, and it’s filled with news stories that all have positive endings.

    My respected fellow colleagues and I know it’s a tough job covering a very fast moving and traumatic world. Today, my message is clear: not all news is negative, and living by the golden rule is not old-fashioned.

    When it comes to civility in society, and particularly in the media, I’m uneasy about the kind of world we will leave our children. Are we on the wrong path when it comes to civility in the media? From what I’ve heard and seen, the answer is yes.

    Well, then, can we turn things around and improve the situation? Again, the answer is yes. So, what do we need to do?

    Steps We Can Take to Make a Difference

    In this media-driven society, we have to take the lead by producing more high-quality local programs. And we have to exercise good editorial judgment when it comes to news stories for our daily broadcasts.

    How many times have you tuned into a broadcast that started immediately with crime? A child was shot, or a teenager’s bright future was canceled by drugs, or an elderly person was mugged. The old tabloid saying goes, “if it bleeds, it leads.” In my opinion, that’s the wrong approach. It exists only because there’s a long-held belief in our industry that it will increase ratings-but many of us believe it doesn’t work anymore.

    After anchoring close to 15,000 newscasts, I’ve come to the conclusion – people want information that impacts *their *lives. Is my job in jeopardy? Are food prices going up? Are my children healthy? Are the schools safe? The audience is changing because their world is changing, and we must change with it. That’s something we can do.

    Throughout my career, I’ve also played the role of a TV news anchor in a few Hollywood movies. So a few words are in order about the big studios and production companies. With all the glitz and glamor of the silver screen, we’re still getting more than our share of films that can leave moviegoers with the wrong ideas.

    After that horrible mass-shooting in Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, studio giant Harvey Weinstein of Miramax called for a summit meeting of producers to discuss movie content. We thank him for that; I fully support this kind of discussion, and hopefully, action.

    On a grassroots level, I urge educators throughout the country to recognize the importance of this issue. For example, schools could require students to take a course in media studies, to better understand our culture and choose wisely. They could include social media etiquette and media exploitation in their studies of ethics and manners.

    I don’t want this to become a one-person crusade. So I’m respectfully asking my colleagues in TV news, at local stations everywhere, to join me. Together we can make this a national effort to improve the balance of positive stories on TV.

    My personal efforts go one step further. I have recently created a new series of TV specials called “Positively Ernie.” We feature refreshing segments on health, education, philanthropy, technology, media, and a wide range of subjects that are making our community, our country, and even the world, a better place. The feedback has been great.

    Finally, we must start at home by focusing on family life. Communication is at the center, and we need to talk with our children – and really listen to them in return. We also have to connect and strengthen ties with many reputable organizations to do whatever we can to help parents guide children in their use of the internet, social media, and TV. Kids are growing up in a much different culture than their parents did, and it’s our responsibility to bring parents up to date, so that they have some context in which to understand, relate, and make a difference.

    But make no mistake. We have a long way to go. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. However, I’m confident that by working together, we can successfully spread the message that civility is the foundation of our lives-and of our media as well.

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    Television and Children – How TV Affects Your Child

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    There is an ongoing debate about the effects of television on children. Some believe that TV has a lot to offer. It can educate, stimulate and entertain. If parents are discerning about what their child watches and how much they watch, there is nothing too harmful about TV. On the other hand, some experts say that any children under two should not watch any television. They feel that it hinders a child’s growth and development in many ways.

    So before you sit your kids down in front of your huge plasma TV, have a think about what they are watching and how long they are watching.To get a look at both sides of the debate, lets break this discussion down in to the positive and negative effects of television on young viewers.

    Positive:

    • Children can learn about numbers, letters, colours and shapes by watching quality educational programmes.
    • Children can learn about social interaction and manners on good quality dramatic and educational programmes.
    • For many parents of young children, a day at home is many hours to fill. Sometimes a familiar or appropriate movie or programme can provide a relaxing moment both child and parent.
    • Children enjoy the familiarity of a movie or show they have watched many times as much as they love to read the same book again and again.
    • Many movies and shows have a moral tale, and this can sometimes provide a helpful way for parents to introduce moral themes and ideas into their children’s lives.
    • Quite often a movie or show can provide the inspiration for games and creative play away from the TV. A child might enjoy re-enacting a favourite scene or character from a movie and carry on with this scene in their playtime.
    • TV and media is a way of life in this day and age. Children can benefit from being conditioned and familiarised with media concepts. It will help them participate in social and cultural events and discussions in their developing social and educational lives.

    Negative:

    • Children under two can be negatively affected by television. It can stunt their social and mental development.
    • Too many hours in front of a TV can prevent children from interacting with their family and siblings.
    • Too much TV can become a problem for some children who engage in less physical activity because they prefer to watch TV.
    • Too much exposure to TV and screen media can make a child’s mind lazy in terms of using their imagination and brainpower in other areas of their lives.
    • When children watch TV they are being exposed to advertising. A lot of advertising is aimed specifically at young children. Ads target young ones and condition them to become loyal brand consumers as adults. Exposure to some ads could encourage poor eating habits and food choices.
    • Injudicious TV watching can expose children to bad habits such as smoking and drinking. It can expose them to violence and create a mindset of fear and aggression.
    • Watching TV can also instil in your children social stereotypes of race, gender and class.

    With so many reasons for and against TV watching, it seems that the decision is best left up to the parent. A parent knows their own child and how best to manage their TV watching habits. Undoubtedly a discerning and vigilant attitude is essential when exposing young children to TV, so think twice before you sit you child in front of your beloved flat screen, HD TV.

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