July 24, 2002

Friday, April 26, 2002

Al’s Morning Meeting is 1-year old Today!
Thanks to so many of you who have sent story ideas. We all owe a special thanks to Poynter.org news editor Barb Palser and to my number one story contributor, Poynter’s Larry Larsen. More than 2,000 of you get this daily email and thousands more regularly come to the web to read MM.

Search Nursing Homes Online
Yesterday the feds posted an extensive database of nursing home performance and inspections. Now you can find out what percentage of residents at any particular nursing home has bed sores or unnecessary pain, for example. It is a remarkable site. It certainly will produce a great story. I would like to know what is missing from the database. You can bet the nursing homes will tell you when you call.
How to use it:
To use it-click on the “Nursing Home Compare” button on the left side. Enter in a state or a region of a state, then check off the names of the homes you want to inspect. Go to the bottom of the page, click enter, and the site retrieves those records. Then you have to drill down one more time to see the records of the individual home.

Here are a couple of stories-from the Baltimore Sun’s fine reporter Dianna Sugg
Another from the St Pete Times

Chemical Storage and Safety
The NYC Explosion is a reminder to newsrooms to have a list of chemical and chemical reaction sources nearby.
Here is a good pocket index of chemicals and reactions
Here is a good collection from Oxford university. Check your local building inspection department to see what chemical storage violations they most commonly find in their inspections. Everything from high school chemistry labs to apartment complexes which store cleaning supplies to hotels/motels improperly storing their their swimming pool supplies can be problematic.
Here are NIOSH’s guides on specific chemicals.

Workers Comp-A Struggle with the System
Lots of you have done stories about workers compensation fraud, but you should also consider doing something on the legitimate claim that can often be a struggle. WTVT-TV Tampa produced such a story that really captivated me.

Computer Recycling-a National Program Planned
Not long ago I told you about the problem of E-Waste. Here is an update From Bayarea.com, “Responding to the growing problem of waste computer equipment, manufacturers and local governments have agreed in principle to set up a nationwide recycling program.
Under the proposal, a fee — perhaps $25 or $30 — would be added to computer systems at the time of purchase. The money would finance a recycling program for computers and televisions. Most likely, the recycling would be handled by private organizations.

The National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative, the group that is coordinating the agreement among governments, manufacturers and environmentalists, hopes to have a detailed framework by September. The program would be rolled out slowly over the next few years. If carried out, the proposal would be one of only a few national recycling plans. For example, only 10 states have laws requiring deposits on cans and bottles.

Health Insurance Premiums/Profits Skyrocket
The LATimes says, “WellPoint Health Networks Inc. beat analysts’ expectations by posting a 46% increase in its first-quarter profit from a year earlier. WellPoint, the parent of Blue Cross of California, said revenue for the quarter jumped 51% to $3.9 billion.” The Times said the upbeat earnings from WellPoint, follows a similarly rosy report last week from UnitedHealth Group Inc., the nation’s largest managed-care firm, reflects skyrocketing prices for medical care, especially at hospitals.
Health insurance companies have been able to pass these costs on to employers and consumers, and as a result premiums have risen by double-digit rates in the last two years. Early signs suggest that pattern will continue next year.

Aetna Inc. showed a return to profitability with its first-quarter results today–and most of the other major managed-care firms are expected to post robust earnings growth for the first quarter and the full year.

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
Al Tompkins

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