July 24, 2002

Thursday, April 25, 2002
(To our TV friends: Have a good May book!)

Note: The application deadline is tomorrow for our Succeeding at Convergence seminar to be held June 23-25. Don’t miss it. This seminar is great for those of you who are trying to build a convergence culture or are trying to learn what you need to know in order to “do convergence.” E-mail me if you need more info. We love when teams from converged newspapers/TV/Online/Radio apply for this seminar.

9 Months Later
There were lots of predictions after the September 11th attacks that we would see a wave of births nine months later. The idea was that people would see that life is fragile and short.
The NYTimes Magazine says there is a spike of births now anticipated in late May-July. One Manhattan childbearing Center closed it’s May birthing classes months earlier than usual — the class was full.

Is this baby boomlet happening in your community?

Births Increase
Besides the September 11th effect, there is a baby boom going on. The Christian Science Monitor reports, “What culture watchers are calling a ‘fertility boom’ has pushed US births to their highest level in almost 30 years. Women now average 2.1 children over a lifetime, according to a new government report. During most of the 1970s and 1980s, they gave birth to fewer than two children, on average.”
As the pitter-patter of little feet echoes across the country, demographers, politicians, employers, and marketers are weighing the implications of this increase. Births topped the 4 million mark in 2000 for the first time in eight years.

Some of the growth stems from a prolonged economic boom. Immigration also plays a role: For Hispanic women, the total fertility rate is 3.1. Births to unmarried mothers, which account for more than one-third of all births, went up 3 percent in 2000, mostly among women in their 20s.

In addition, women in their 30s and 40s who had delayed childbearing are catching up. Equally significant, observers see a marked change in attitudes toward children and families among so-called Generation Xers, those in their 20s and early 30s. This could portend long-term changes in birth rates.

Percentage of New Mothers In Workplace Falling
Then there is this new information from the Census. The Washington Post says the percentage of working women with infants fell last year for the first time since the government began tracking the rise of mothers in the labor force nearly three decades ago, signaling a shift in a social trend that has had broad impact across the nation’s economy, culture and daily life.

In a Wednesday report, the Census Bureau said that 55 percent of mothers with children younger than 12 months were working last year, down from 59 percent in 1998. That was the first statistically significant decline since the government began compiling statistics on working mothers in 1976.

The new figures do not forecast a mass retreat of women from the workplace, The Post says. If anything, some contend, it reflects the sense among many women that their place in the workforce is here to stay and that they can leave temporarily without losing too much ground professionally.

Feds Hit Cyber Porn Swindle
Here is one you might want alert the public to.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is moving to shut down a multimillion-dollar e-mail scam, in which Internet users who responded to an official-looking contest notification were funneled into a pay-per-view adult Web site.

“This is one of the worst we’ve seen,” Howard Beales, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, told reporters. “The scheme is particularly insidious and rife with deception.”

According to the FTC, the defendants in the case sent out e-mail messages notifying consumers that they had won a Sony PlayStation 2 or some other prize. Consumers who responded to the contest notification were directed to a Web page that appeared to be operated by the popular Web portal Yahoo.

From there, consumers were prompted to make a “toll-free” Internet connection to claim their prizes. By accepting that prompt, victims of the scam downloaded a file that auto-dialed a 900 number and funneled them into an adult Web site, where they were charged up to $3.99 a minute.

The FTC says the defendants collected $11 million in the scam.

5 PDAs of the Future
Forbes has an interesting piece on the plans underway for PDA’s. They are videophone, camera, calendar, emailer and more crammed into one little device. One is voice-activated, one is called a “go anywhere PC”. Look at these and ask yourself, “How will these change the way we deliver our news in a few years?”

About Yesterday’s Activists page
A few Morning Meeting readers told me they thought I should have put a stronger flag on the Activistscash site I told you about yesterday. They are right.

One reader dropped me a note:

“I enjoy getting the morning meeting by e-mail. One thing about today’s caught my attention.

After seeing your link for ActivistCash.com, I checked out the web site. The site’s interest in following the money made me curious where their money came from. Scrolling down to the bottom of the site, you see a copyright notice for consumerfreedom.com (which sounds to me like a group with an agenda). So it is (from their FAQ):

What is the Center for Consumer Freedom?
The Center for Consumer Freedom represents a coalition of restaurant operators and concerned individuals working together to defend your right to a full and varied menu of dining options. We do this through education, training, research, and public outreach.
Unlike the anti-consumer activists we monitor and keep in check, we stand up for common sense and personal choice. The growing fraternity of “food cops,” health care enforcers, militant activists, meddling bureaucrats, and violent radicals who think they can decide better than you “what’s best for you” are not just attacking restaurants — they’re attacking liberty. 

Sounds like a group to me with a bone to pick (pardon the pun) rather than a organization of plucky do-gooders. Their attention on PETA probably has to do with the fact that PETA tells people not to eat meat. Their attention on MADD likely has to do with the organization’s new focus, according to ActivistCash.com on ‘social drinkers.’
ActivistCash.com might have a good point here and there (and I say that as a meat-eating social drinker). But they also have a hidden agenda.”

There is a great lesson in all of this. Even databases and search tools can have an attitude. It does not make the data useless, but we do have to filter the information to ask what the site’s agenda is. I appreciate the input from Morning Meeting readers.

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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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