Coping with Tragedy in the News: Tips for Parents and Educators

The severity of the news has parents and educators struggling with how to cope and, at the same time, figure out what to say to their own children.
Below is a list of resources, but please make note of the following:
  • Don’t leave news unattended in the house. Children absorb information like sponges, so what you may tune out as background noise, they notice. Be sure to stay with your kids when the news is on.
  • Limit the amount of time the news is on. Unlimited exposure to the news’ cycle repetition (especially with developing stories) amplifies the issue.
  • Even the youngest children respond to the faces they see on TV. Seeing other children unhappy or crying is particularly upsetting to them.
  • Children can’t process where something happened — especially when the images are in their own livingroom. Make a point of explaining the images are coming from somewhere far away, to help your children feel safe where they are.
  • Talk to your children about what’s in the news. Even when you don’t know what to say, ask them what they think — and, most importantly, how it makes them feel. Consider that a starting point.
Detailed information is available from a variety of sources, and it’s important to compare what ‘experts’ have to say in order for you to find your own comfort zone:
A look at what not to say:
Help with what to say:

Resources for Parents and Educators:

* American Psychological Association:
* National Association of School Psychologists:

Cable Disputes Prove FCC Now Lacks Teeth

To gently paraphrase the letter on my desk from one of my favorite FCC commissioners: “About those retransmission regs? Yeah, they’re not working out the way we thought.”

No kidding.

The situation is reminiscent of when, in 1996, the Federal Communications Commission deregulated cable, saying it would decrease rates, and the industry responded by sending you a bigger monthly bill.

So here we are now, stuck in the middle of another retransmission argument, with no recourse. This time, the battle’s between Cablevision and WPIX.

The New York State Public Service Commission claims you’re owed nothing for loss of programming during disputes like these because you buy programming on cable by the bundle, not a la carte.

For its part, the FCC admits retransmission is a murky area and clarity, in reality, will come from the industry lucky enough to employ services of the best lobbyists.

The  current situation simply underscores how serving the public need and convenience has become a casualty of the Information Age. The irony is that this is exactly when we need it the most.

What’s interesting in this latest dispute is the silence surrounding the situation. In 2010, the ruckus between WABC-TV and Cablevision caused New Yorkers to miss some of the Oscars, but gave us plenty of propaganda in the way of television and radio spots that argued the case for each side during negotiations. Later in 2010, nearly 2 million of us lost programming again, when Cablevision and FOX 5 and its sister station, my9, agreeed to disagree just before the World Series.

To be fair, New York’s not special in this regard. Disputes around the country are continuously causing the public to lose programming, as contracts between cable companies and broadcasters come up for renewal. The heart of the argument is, of course, money, but who owes what to whom is the mystery when one party has the content and the other party provides access to the audience.

While the pols try to revamp current regulation to make retransmission a clear-cut issue, the slowness of response, combined with the precedent that losing programming, is now nothing more than business as usual, illustrates the underlying problem of the FCC. Its effectiveness is missing and its value is lost, because technology has termiated its rules to maintain responsibility.

The best solution to fee disputes would be to fine both parties each day programming is missing. It would be the beginning of giving the public back its rights.

Jaci Clement is executive director of the Fair Media Council and a regular contributor to Long Island Business News. She may be reached at [email protected]

It’s Time to Deliver a New Message

Something’s happened here, over time, and it simply doesn’t make any sense. Yet, it’s become reality and, like the weather, it impacts everybody.

Perhaps the blame lies in what’s become Long Island’s favorite sport: political infighting. Or, maybe this whole thing was meant to alleviate a fear which simply spun out of control and promptly turned into an urban legend.  The truth is probably somewhere in between but no matter. Blame isn’t what this is about.

This is about the truth. And the truth, as I know it, is this: Long Island is home to a great school system. Schools that have worked tirelessly and put plenty of hard-earned tax dollars to work to secure bragging rights on advanced placement scores, Regents Scholarship, Ivy League acceptances and Intel finalists – 5 at last count, no, including that former homeless student?

So proud are we even our media boasts about winners who did the scholastic equivalent of a drive by:  ‘Top Intel Winner Did Research at Stony Brook’ read Newsday’s March headline, about a Michigan teen.

Why then, when we systematically design a generation of students to be smarter, faster and more accomplished by the age of 17 than we ever were – or could’ve ever hoped to be – why do we build them up and, one day, turn around and say, “You’ll never make it here. You better move.” Continue reading

CBS Welcome Addition to LI

It’s great news for you, yet no one’s telling you that story. What’s caught the media’s attention with the news of CBS taking over TV 55 is the number of jobs it impacts, the allocation of resources being made — and what name will appear on the sides ofthe news trucks. The real story? Long Island has just gotten a new lease on life — and none too soon.

With a major broadcast outlet staking a claim here, Long Island doesn’t simply come out of the shadows castupon it by the city to the west. That, in and of itself, is a major boon to your life and your business. But what it also means — politically,economically and socially — is that Long Island is back on the radar screen, so people beyond our borders can hear what we have to say. That’s a luxury we haven’t been afforded since 2008, when our major local news sources became one, promised great things, then systematically diminished Long Island’s image and presence as it decreased news and firewalled content.

Continue reading

Clement: Inside LI’s Cell Tower Debate

As seen in Long Island Business News, March 16, 2012

How many cell towers does an island need?

New cell tower construction always seems to be on an agenda around here. That makes sense given the Island’s notorious dead zones, coupled with the public’s insatiable appetite for wireless connectivity.

Of course, if you’re looking to purposely drop a scheduled call, head over to a variety of places on along the North and South shores – the closer to the water, the better. Hopping on the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway is a surefire way to “accidentally” hang up on someone, and Woodbury Road’s many twists and turns in the Cold Spring Harbor area can turn one phone call into an endless game of telephone tag. In short, if you want to be out of range for a day, there are plenty of places from which to choose – even before we add in the Island’s more than 120 golf courses.

People’s want for wireless continues to increase as technology evolves. As new iGadgets hit the stores, the need for fast, reliable wireless connectivity is bordering on an addiction. If you don’t think that’s true, consider this: When’s the last time anyone mentioned 3G without snickering?

AT&T recently reported its wireless data traffic has increased 20,000 percent over the past five years. For that, thank a smartphone near you.

Yet, despite the seemingly insatiable appetite for wireless, the topic of cell towers is a highly unpopular one. Right now, Kings Park is “discussing” what Centerport slammed, Lake Ronkonkoma is irked by and Hempstead so resolutely shot down that it set new standards for cell tower construction.

The strength of the NIMBYs’ argument is twofold: health concerns and quality of life.

Interestingly, no studies have proven adverse health conditions arise from cell towers and, recently, an attempt to correlate cancer in children caused by proximity to cell towers proved false. So unfounded is the purported health issue that the Federal Communications Commission will not entertain it as a valid reason to stop cell tower construction.

Since Long Island is already home to more than 10,000 cell towers, that seems to further weaken the health argument. So too, the quality of life issue that politicians and neighbors now use in place of the health argument. While it’s true an unsightly looking cell tower in someone’s backyard may diminish property values, won’t those same properties soon suffer the same fate from being situated inside dead zones?

Jaci Clement is executive director of the Fair Media Council and a regular contributor to Long Island Business News. She may be reached at [email protected]

Destruction of LI’s Point of Pride Met With Silence

By Jaci Clement

Of all the news stories generated out of Long Island this year, it’s the SAT cheating scandal that damns us.
Unfortunately, it’s a story with great legs. FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC — and a myriad of local news outlets — all documented the continuously unfolding scandal.
From there, NPR mused at the rarity of SAT cheating, while CNN pondered the tyranny of standardized testing.
The New York Times acknowledged such cheating was hardly a secret, Gothamist claimed it was a highly-disciplined ring run like a business, The Examiner extended the scandal to pervade multiple schools like a contagion and CBS New York revealed the possibility of parental supervision at the heart of the crime.
But it was the International Business Times that succinctly identified the larger issue and utmost danger to Long Island. “No matter the outcome, the damage to the Island’s reputation is permanent: Nassau and Suffolk school systems, among the most expensive and well-regarded in the nation, are regarded as corrupt,” it reported back in November.

There you have it.

Just as our schools are grappling with spiraling costs and tax caps, public disenchantment with salaries and pensions and state government disenfranchisement over the volume of districts and staff, along comes the story that nails shut Long Island’s history as America’s mecca for quality education.

This is a completely different kind of beast, one that overshadows stories of Long Island born-and-bred freaks and serial killers. This story kills the only true industry left on the Island and the key reason to relocate here.

Spin control on the issue appears nil, as responsibility for Long Island’s image falls through the cracks. And of course, scandal is much more intriguing than anything tinged with damage control, making recovery all the harder. But what needs to be acknowledged here on the home front is that this story should not be left up to one industry to deal with, or to hide behind.

In the court of law, a couple dozen kids looking for an easy way out – or victimized by parents who prefer easy over proper – may be dealt with effectively. The court of public opinion has its own rules, and justice is meted out quite differently. Unless something changes, the story that once was about a few kids cheating on their SATs will turn into the one true reason why Long Island is no longer what it once was.

As appeared in Long Island Business News, Dec.23-29, 2010

Talking points dulled by overuse

(As Appeared In Long Island Business News) – by  Jaci Clement
Published: Nov. 23, 2011

When you come right down to it, does anybody really need talking points any longer?

Perhaps the brilliance of Occupy Wall Street is simply its open platform: Everyone is free to assign their own beliefs to the movement and, in doing so, everyone may become impassioned by it. The lack of personalization has somehow managed to make the movement an intimate endeavor to thousands of strangers cohabitating in squares, parks and even subways around the globe.

Consider this: The people who use talking points the most – politicians – are hardly among the trusted. In fact, polls illustrate our public is twice as disappointed in our political system as they are in corporate America.

Why does Washington continue to get away with nonsensical behavior? Universal despair appears to be the answer.

Also not to be believed: mainstream media, which has so managed to disenfranchise its audience with messages meant to befriend and entertain that it can no longer define its audience. Such attempts have left the medium gutless and now, thanks to OWS, visibly clueless. So accustomed has our working press come to being spoon-fed stories that, when faced with a movement lacking press releases and media-trained spokespeople, few reporters can figure out what to do. Can’t find quotable sources among thousands camping out in public spaces, day and night? Then by all means turn your attention to Justin Bieber. Or pizza being declared a vegetable.

There’s plenty of talking points about what should happen to the white space of broadcasting. One idea: Turn it over to the emergency responders to enable them to communicate in times of crisis. Problem with this talking point? It’s been talked about for more than 10 years now – since Sept. 11 – and we’re no closer to having a national safety net. Might it be time to abandon this point – and even the concept that government can reliably handle crisis communication management?

Long Island’s talking points have always focused on how it doesn’t get its “fair share.” Since that complaint has never changed, it just might be fair to say the talking point is less than effective. Accelerate Long Island has unveiled talking points to make Long Island a tech powerhouse … and CA Technologies has answered by saying it not only has dibs on those talking points, but it’s practiced them for years.

Perhaps, when all is said and done, the most pivotal talking point of the Information Age will prove to be silence.



Blame credibility for media’s demise

by Jaci Clement, Executive Director, Fair Media Council

What if what’s ailing the news business has nothing to do with the Internet?

A new study by the Pew Research Center for People & the Press shows public distrust of the news media has grown to an all-time high. Not only does 63 percent of the public doubt the accuracy of the news reported, 60 percent believe the news is laden with political bias.

Yet, the media fervently chronicles the rise of the Internet as the culprit behind traditional media’s demise. Technology is blamed for everything from speeding up news cycles to fractionalizing audience share to new competition from social media.

Sounds plausible, right? Not so fast: Interestingly enough, there’s yet to be a cause-and-effect story that ties together eroding credibility and diminishing audiences.

When credibility is your business and you’ve been diagnosed with a massive case of mistrust, it would stand to reason that technology is merely a symptom, not the disease.

Put another way: What business can get away with failing in its core mission and expect to survive?

News has strayed from its fundamental purpose. What once was a public necessity has morphed into meaningless filler and entertaining banter. In fact, the news business has knowingly and willfully exchanged currency, trading in its credibility for likeability. Now that the industry is no longer needful (read: credible) to the public, it needs to be wanted. After all, if people like you, they’ll make time for you.

The strategy became most transparent and best symbolized by taking the chair of Old Iron Pants and bequeathing it to America’s Sweetheart.

But likeability isn’t working. Let’s blame technology.

Ironically, technology actually could be the savior of the news industry – if it knew how to use it.  Wrongfully, the industry decided technology equals faster reporting, less time to check facts and no time to put issues into perspective. That hasn’t worked out so well, as anemic print editions, shuttered publications and bleeding financials so attest.

The next cure-all attempt: Package and deliver news so fresh it hasn’t happened yet. Reporting on speculation frees the news to showcase its personality – and it absolves reporters of pesky fact checking.
Instead, the public is moving toward social media, the success of which relies heavily on the public’s ability to create their own circles of trust and share news, opinions and information from people they believe in.

This is the story you won’t see anywhere.

FMC Calls for Cable Industry Regulation

For the third time, Cablevision customers have lost programming due to contract negotiations with television networks. The situation is unacceptable to the viewing public, and regulatory reform of the cable industry is necessary to ensure the public is no longer held hostage during business transactions.

“It is clear it is time for the FCC to regulate the cable industry, just as it does over-the-air broadcasters, and level the playing field, in order for the public interest to be served,” said Jaci Clement, Executive Director of the Fair Media Council.

Last year, Cablevision posted nearly a $300 million profit, while television networks continued to face declining advertising revenues. Yet, Cablevision’s rates continue to climb. And, with a 100 percent market penetration, Cablevision’s stranglehold on Long Island leaves its nearly 3 million residents with little-to-no choice in which cable provider they choose.

For consumers to be left in the dark is unacceptable. For consumers to pay for programming that is not available to them — even for a limited period of time — is unacceptable, and this is now the third time it’s happened. It’s time for Congress to wake up and understand the importance of ensuring consumers have a choice in information providers.

Published: Nov. 6, 2010 by Long Island Business News