Once upon a time, advertisements for junk food were part of Disney programs for kids. But in 2015, such ads on TV, radio and websites will be banished from the Magic Kingdom. The Walt Disney Co. announced new nutrition guidelines today, furthering a 2006 initiative to make food at its theme parks and resorts healthier. “The emotional connection kids have to our characters and stories gives us a unique opportunity to continue to inspire and encourage them to lead healthier lives,” CEO Bob Iger said. He hopes to influence not only children but also companies. Though advertising revenue may initially decline, Iger’s goal is for companies to eventually create products meeting Disney’s standards. Ultimately, individuals and families make the decisions about what food to purchase and consume; government attempts to set the menu aren’t the answer to our nation’s health challenges. Disney’s effort at self-imposed corporate responsibility and media pressure is a fresh approach. We hope this change will help children live happily, and healthily, ever after.
AP File Photo
Breaking news last week regarding New Orleans’ Times-Picayune concerned not the contents of its pages but the future of the newspaper itself. The 175-year-old publication plans to cut its daily circulation to three days a week and focus on online news. In a letter to the paper’s owner, New Orleans Saints and Hornets owner Tom Benson urged the organization to rethink its decision. As a major league city with a strong heritage, Benson believes New Orleans deserves a daily paper. If his challenge doesn’t succeed in overturning the ruling on the field, The Times-Picayune would be the largest metro newspaper in the country to cease daily circulation. Avid readers may be left feeling as if the digital age placed a bounty on their morning papers.
Tom Benson (AP File Photo)
In the debate over OETA, supporters often cited children’s educational opportunities and the potential loss of “Sesame Street” as a reason to maintain funding. But on the House floor, it turned out senior citizens’ support of OETA and voting power may have been even more persuasive. “The last I checked, they’re the vast majority of the people that vote,” said state Rep. Jason Nelson. “They’re the ones that go to the polls every time.” Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, reminded his colleagues that senior citizens “constitute 38 percent of all the qualified and active voters in this state,” and predicted that “99 percent of that 38 percent are going to tell you, ‘Yes, keep OETA.’” The bill passed 53-28. The blue-haired Cookie Monster might be Big Bird’s friend on TV, but apparently blue-haired voters were his protectors in the Legislature.
The National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle became the latest setting for an ideologue to proclaim tolerance while simultaneously spouting intolerant remarks. Keynote speaker Dan Savage, founder of the It Gets Better Project, used his anti-bully platform to blatantly attack Christians. When an already vulgar speech crossed the line, a group of students walked out. Savage heckled and cursed them. His movement, with the message of spreading hope to bullied LGBT teens, has reached over 40 million viewers with its YouTube videos featuring contributors ranging from Hollywood stars to President Barack Obama. The group’s pledge declares, “Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are… I’ll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work.” Sounds like Savage needs to work on practicing what he preaches.
Dan Savage (AP File Photo)
President Obama’s remarks in Cushing ran to about 1,060 words. The cost of getting Air Force One here from a previous stop in New Mexico was an estimated $149,792. So the Cushing speech ran to about $141 per word, or slightly more if you don’t count the obligatory “Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.” The figure doesn’t include any other costs associated with the stopover. The words themselves were utterly forgettable, but that was by design. This was a photo-op so an image of Obama could be framed by pipes ready for the laying. A picture is worth a thousand words; this picture was worth about $150,000. The lucky few who attended the Cushing speech got something priceless to them — camera phone photos of the president’s brief sojourn in our midst.
President Barack Obama waves to the crowd as he arrives at the TransCanada Pipe Yard near Cushing, Okla., Thursday, March 22, 2012. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
We’ve noted before the tendency of lawmakers to waste taxpayer money with politically-charged press releases. State Rep. James Lockhart, D-Heavener, piggybacked on the presidential visit this week to thank the White House “for agreeing to allow” a pipeline project linking Cushing to the Gulf Coast. The project didn’t need White House support. Whatever agreement came from the White House is as hollow as an empty pipeline. What does need White House agreement is a pipeline from Cushing into Canada. For the record, Lockhart supports both segments. We know this because taxpayers funded a press release so that Lockhart and fellow legislators can campaign for re-election on the public’s dime.
AP File Photo
Employers are now seeking information about prospective workers not only through interviews, references and background checks; they’re increasingly asking to step into applicants’ social media shoes. Checking a candidate’s social networking profiles is nothing new, but many users make their profiles private — so companies are asking them to “friend” human resources managers, log in during an interview or even hand over their passwords. Soliciting or sharing login information, not to mention accessing another’s account, violates Facebook’s terms of service. Questions about the legality of the practice have prompted legislation in Illinois and Maryland. On the other end of the spectrum, actors are critical of the personal information about them that is public. Profiles on the Internet Movie Database reveal birth dates and more. Stars are upset both when information listed is inaccurate and when it’s truthfully revealing, The Wall Street Journal reports. While celebrities might just have to get used to the fact that some fans are curious enough to compile information about them, regular people should be able to manage their digital interactions smartly and safely, without having to give up their password to get a job.
A bill that would have made legislators subject to state open record and open meetings laws bit the dust this week. House Bill 1085 by Rep. Jason Murphey was to be considered by the House on Thursday, the last day for the House to act on bills that originated there. But the bill got saddled with nearly two dozen amendments, and many members let it be known that they were uncomfortable with the idea. The bill’s language could be attached to another bill this session, but that’s a long shot. “There are a large number of members who are not prepared for transparency,” said Murphey, R-Guthrie. Instead they prefer the way business gets done now — which is too often in the shadows. We say again of lawmakers: Requiring nearly every other public official to abide by openness laws while not subjecting themselves to the same is the height of hypocrisy.
The Oklahoman Archives
OKLAHOMA PRESS ASSOCIATION PUBLISHES THE OPEN MEETING / OPEN RECORDS BOOK
Technology, typing and tweeting have joined traditional foundations of elementary education. Joining a growing group of classes using social media, an Illinois school has added these trending topics to its first-grade curriculum. Teacher Jodi Conrad has found Twitter a useful method of communicating with parents. In addition to daily tweets, her class has a blog, creates YouTube videos for a private account for parents and writes books with computer software. “These are tools that come standard in life right now,” Conrad said. Training youngsters in social media in the safety of a classroom environment recognizes the changing times and is a unique way to motivate students. Kids are eager to use the new technologies, and pressing the “tweet” button on the touch screen is a privilege. In a digital era, in which Encyclopaedia Britannica goes out of print after over two centuries, these 6-year-olds are simply following the trend.
Like the Oscar nominees they helped produce, state film incentive programs are in the spotlight. Of the nine films contending for best picture, eight got government financial assistance — five via state programs and three via tax credits to film overseas. The odd film out happened to be the Academy’s favorite, “The Artist.” Stateline.org has reported on the tension over disclosing dollar amounts of incentives for individual productions. Taxpayers desire transparency; the film industry values privacy. States jockey to be the most lucrative sites in which to film, and Oklahoma’s role in the contest is up for consideration. With a Legislature eager to trim the supporting cast of tax credits and exemptions, our state’s $5 million rebate program could join other incentives on the chopping block. Its effectiveness does warrant a review. The enticement hasn’t proved strong enough for a slate of stories set in Oklahoma but filmed elsewhere. The most recent episode: Kevin Durant’s upcoming movie, “Thunderstruck,” was filmed primarily in Baton Rouge.