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Posts published in “Day: August 15, 2013

New Ways of Getting the News

By Kristan Hoffman

A few months ago I was coming back to Texas to visit my parents, and my dad asked me to bring a copy of my local newspaper for him. The Cincinnati Enquirer recently switched to the smaller “tabloid” format, and as a fellow publisher, my dad wanted to see how things had worked out.

Then he and I started talking about where people get their news nowadays. Each format — print, broadcast, online – has benefits and drawbacks. The key factors are accuracy of information, speed of distribution, and cost. Which reminds me of a saying: “Fast, cheap, or good. You can only get 2 out of 3, so choose wisely.”

When it comes to staying informed, I am definitely part of the Millennial generation, meaning that I mostly depend on Google or social media. For example, I learned about Osama bin Laden’s death via Twitter, and about the Boston Marathon bombing via Facebook.

I do catch snippets of the 10 o’clock news sometimes, usually after one of my favorite shows is over. However, while all formats contain a mix of stories, I find that TV focuses the most on “sensational” topics like robberies and shootings. Or they reel you in with teasers: What popular new toy might kill your child? We’ll tell you right after this commercial break, so don’t change that channel!

Print news, on the other hand, seems to be the most community-focused. Because of their built-in delay and their smaller coverage areas, newspapers aren’t trying to capture an audience with speed or general interest, but instead with quality and relevance. They try to keep us informed about what’s happening in our city, our neighborhood. Changes with the school district, what the congressmen are doing, new roads being built. The stuff that truly impacts our daily lives.

Talking about all of this with my dad gave us both a lot of good food for thought. His newspapers already have websites and Facebook pages, but he’s looking into other ways to make subscriptions convenient and timely for his readers. Maybe an email list so people can download a PDF copy. Maybe a Twitter feed.

Another innovation that social media has brought to news coverage is “common man reporting.” Through Twitter, Instagram, blogs, and other online tools, people can instantly broadcast their mobile photos and eyewitness accounts, sometimes before journalists even arrive on the scene. More valuable than any one individual’s testimony is the conglomeration of them all.

But just as easily as information is spread this way, so is misinformation. People jump to conclusions, often without the background knowledge needed to make them in the first place. And like a bad game of Telephone, things usually become more distorted with each transmission.

So the internet is fast but bad with details. Newspapers are specific but slower. Television is somewhere in between. Because there are pros and cons to each format, we consumers have to be aware of them when we choose where to get our stories.

Most importantly, technology may be changing a lot about the way news is reported, but hopefully all journalists will stay focused on and driven by the heart of why news is reported. It’s not about subscriptions, advertisers, or “getting the scoop.” It’s about empowering people through the delivery of relevant and accurate information.

Crosby passes budget and hires new staff

CROSBY – The tax increase was accepted 6 to 1 by the vote of the board, there was no public comment.

At the public hearing concerning the new budget for Crosby Independent School District no member of the public came forward to tell the school board that holding bond elections within the schools to benefit from them was in any way questionable, or that a new tax just before the implementation of affordable healthcare goes into effect might imperil local property owners, so the will of the courageous people was enforced. No complaint was represented.

Other than board members, new administrators and key teachers, no one showed up except a reporter last Monday.

Joann Crawford was the single dissenting vote and attributed that to a legal issue that has a pending legal opinion. She said she did not have an opportunity to bring forth the legal issue.

The proposed maintenance and operations rate ($1.17 per $100 valuation) is the same as last year, the Interest and Sinking debt service tax rate will rise from 27¢ normative to 50¢. In total as published in the Star-Courier on page 6 July 25 was and is $1.67 per $100 valuation from last year’s $1.44 due to the rollback tax. A bond referendum vote was held May 11.

A single amendment was made in the motion to change from the 132th day of August to the 12th of August for the date enacted.

The board will tackle issues like are private tutors allowed in the classrooms during school hours. President John Lindsey asked to see a new telephone list and the board has asked for an organizational chart.

Cody Stephens Foundation receives support from North Shore Rotary; fundraiser planned

NORTH SHORE – The Rotary Club of North Shore made several check presentations at their last luncheon meeting, to show their support for community activities in East Harris County.

Included in the awards were a check to the Cody Stephens Foundation for $6500, to pay for ECG screenings for pre-participation high school athletes; a check for $11,000 to San Jacinto College North, for partial tuition for high school students that have been taking dual-credit college courses with their normal high school classes, at Crosby, Channelview, Galena Park, Holy Trinity, and Sheldon high schools; and a check for $1200 to the VA Hospital Hospitality Fund, awarded through the Crosby American Legion Post #658.

“These awards,” said Rotary president Matt Davis, “demonstrate our commitment to student safety, education, and our veterans’ needs.”

In accepting the check, Scott Stephens spoke about the need for pre-participation ECG screenings for high school athletes. After the death of his son Cody from an undiagnosed heart condition, Scott became aware of the large numbers of athletes nationwide that have died from heart abnormalities that were not known beforehand. He vowed to help change this condition, and established the foundation to help pay for ECG pre-participation screenings, and he embarked on a speaking and appearance schedule to make people aware of the problem, and the solution.

To date, 800 athletes at Crosby ISD, and 500 at Galena Park have been screened, with other districts interested or also participating.

Funds from the Foundation have been committed or dispersed to:

Crosby ISD

Channelview ISD

Industrial ISD

LaPorte ISD

Bryan ISD (2 high schools)

Beaumont ISD (3 high schools)

Pearland ISD (2 high schools)

Conroe ISD (5 high schools)

Galena Park (2 high schools).

A Barbecue Fund Raiser is planned in Crosby, on Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. at the American Legion Hall. A raffle for a new cooker will be held, as well as a dance, auction, and dinner.

Stephens plans on continuing his fundraising and campaign to provide screening for athletes.

MECA Scholarships

Also receiving a check, for $11,000 was San Jacinto College North, to pay for partial tuition for students that are taking dual credit courses, and will get college credit and an Associate degree when they graduate from high school. They will then be able to continue in a 4 year college, entering as a Junior, said Dr. Allitia Harris, president of San Jacinto College North, and president elect of the North Shore Rotary club. Director Jennifer Mowdy reported that 30 students graduated this year in the program, including 11 from Crosby graduating this year, and 7 next year. MECA stands for Modified Early College Academy.

VA Hospitality

Also receiving a check for $1200 was the American Legion McNerney Post #658 in Crosby, who will use the money to fund a hospitality welcome suite at the VA Hospital in Houston. American Legion commander Bob Boyles said this makes visiting veterans and their families more comfortable and feel welcome as they wait for their medical procedures at the VA facility.