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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 18, 1997)
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Survey sheds light on the heaviest cities in U.S
For those of you about to gradu
ate and enter the ranks of the
gratefully employed, the search for
work may take you far aqd wide or
right around the coma-. As part of
your search for employment, finding
a good city to live in will also be
In making this determination,
many factors have to be weighed.
Income, cost of housing, crime rates,
quality of education and local taxes
all figure when deciding where to
live. Every year, surveys list the 10
best and worst places to live in
America. Now there is another study
that may help you decide where to
The study involved 33 cities
across the United States and ranked
these cities based upon the percent
age of obese people living there.
Which city wins the award for
having the most “heavy hitters?”
New Orleans gets the gold with a
whopping 38 percent of the popula
tion being overweight.
I first caught the results of this
survey on CNN as reported by CNN
correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.
Being rather well proportioned
myself, you might think that I would
find this report offensive. Not true.
The silver lining in this report is
that 1 now possess information about
my “peer” group — and I have a
majority of peers living in New
The study was conducted by the
Coalition For Excess Weight Risk
Education and was funded by
pharmaceutical companies develop
ing anti-obesity drugs. Its primary
goal is to educate America about the
dangers of obesity, which is the
second leading preventable cause of
death in the United States. Obesity
contributes to diseases such as
cancer, diabetes, hypertension and
stroke. About 300,000 deaths
annually can be attributed to the
effects of obesity.
In the search for weight control,
consumers spend an average of $2.5,
billion per year according to
Entrepreneur Magazine. It certainly
appears that the pharmaceutical -
companies have a vested interest in
developing the “cure.”
The study lists several reasons
some cities have a higher population
of horizontally-challenged residents.
These include high unemployment
rates, low per capita incomes, high
annual precipitation and large
numbers of food stores per capita.
CNN also noted that the survey
has significant flaws because the
study’s data came from the National
Center for Health Statistics, which
uses weights reported from individu
als — not medically reported
weights. Maybe the people of New
Orleans are just more honest about
So what is the thinnest city in
America? Denver cranes in as the
“light weight” with 22 percent of the
population being overweight
I believe that the real reason for
the difference in New Orleans and
Denver is not among the reasons
cited in the survey. I suggest that
altitude is the key factor in deter
mining where obese people live.
OK, maybe gravity is a contributing
factor, too. The way I understand it,
gravity and weight are related in
some way. Isn’t there less gravity at
higher altitudes? But that is not
What is important is understand
ing the motivation behind the
survey. People who struggle with
.obesity do so because society has
declared war on fat. There is a
misconception that obese people are
heavy because they want to be. For
anyone who has ever spent money
on a diet or piece of exercise
equipment to lose weight, you know
that’s just not true.
People who are overweight are
also acutely aware of the risks
involved with carrying a few extra
pounds. My doctor once told me that
if I am comfortable at a certain
weight and neither gain nor lose
weight, I should not worry about
dieting. Continue to exercise, don’t
smoke and eat a balanced diet.
Those are the keys to avoiding the
problems caused by obesity and
constant yo-yo diets.
As for the study, it sure gives new
meaning the term “Fat Tuesday.”
MacDonald is a freshman
electrical engineering major and a
Daily Nebraskan columnist.
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Americans hate journalists.
It’s a hard thing to accept,
especially when you’ve devoted your
life to one of the lowest paying fields
in the country.
And then, to add insult to injury,
you are shown cold, hard facts
saying the public hates you.
I’m referring to the Roper
Center/Newseum poll conducted in
January, which has been printed in
Here are just a few of its findings:
■ 82 percent of poll respondents
think reporters are insensitive when
covering disasters and accidents.
■ 64 percent think reporters
spend too much time offering their
■ 63 percent think die news is
too manipulated by special interests.
■ 46 parent think the news is
too negative, while 52 percent think
the news is too biased.
Yet what do the findings of such
a poll mean? That journalists use
people to get stories? That journal
ism is a business?
If only the answers came as easily
as the questions.
Or as easily as the poll of 1,500
people meant to convey the opinion
of a nation.
But we must make a distinction
this poll fails to make—one
between broadcast journalism and
Two of the poll facts clearly point
out the media’s anger with broadcas
journalism. Neither of these poll
findings apply strongly — if at all
— to print journalism.
When dealing with insensitivity
during a disaster, the public rarely
has a chance to see how print
journalists deal with such victims
because their efforts leading to the
written story go unwitnessed.
But if you could see them, you’d
see that a newspaper reporter
handles him or herself far better
than a broadcast journalist.
We’re under pressure to get the
news, sure — but not under nearly
as much pressure to visually create a
picture. Meaning, we don’t shove
huge video cameras in people’s
faces. We don’t manipulate their
pain with sound checks, micro
phones and artificial lighting.
We ask them what we need to ask
and then we get out.
And when it comes to adding our
“opinions” to what we do, print
journalists will tell you that the first
thing they leam is to keep their
opinions buried in the depths of
Flip through the paper you’re
holding. I doubt you’ll find any
news article with the phrase “I think
that... “ or “this reporter thinks he
was ugly.... “
There’s a reason for that — the
public is entitled to both sides of the
story. We might lean toward one
side, but we’ll never express it in
our articles — it’s in our job
description not to.
In my mind print journalism is
more dedicated to the sensitive and
truthful reporting of news. Broadcast
journalism is more influenced by
I still haven’t touched three of the
[mil findings, and for these, I must
speak strictly from a print
journalist’s point of view.
First, we find that 63 percent of
people think the news is too manipu
lated by special interests.
And you know, to a certain
degree it’s true. Yet I don’t think we
formulate the content of a paper
around special interests.
But we do consider special
interests when it comes to writing
stories. And there’s an important
reason for that: They offer informa
If journalists spent all their time
searching for story ideas, we’d never
have time to write stories. Special
interests often offer information,
knowing fully that it could benefit
Besides —just because you are
offered a news story idea by a special
interest doesn’t mean you have to
write the story supporting their
view. As a matter of fact—if you’re
a good journalist, you won’t. You’ll
show all sides of the issue.
Finally there are the poll findings
that say 52 percent of Americans
think news is too biased, and 46
percent of Americans think news is
What you may perceive to be a
bias is sometimes a lack of informa
tion from the “other side.”
A good example is election
coverage. If you see more articles
about (me party, you may think the
paper favors that party.
Instead, the other party might be
poorly organized. Or its spokesper
son is failing to contact the paper. In
either case, die paper is not being
biased — it is simply working with
the information it has.
Yet, I’m more disturbed about the
46 percent of Americans who think
the news is too negative.
This makes rhe sick. And it
makes me sick because the people
who said they want less “negative”
news want journalists to paint a
prettier picture than what actually
Let me say this: No journalist
ever got into the profession to make
you laugh or anile. They got into
journalism to tell that thing called
And truth is often depressing,
angry, boring and tedious.
I, as a journalist, refuse to limit
myself to reporting “good news” if it
means I’m not reporting bad news
Don’t limit journalists when it
cranes to the negative. This world is
negative. Look around and you’ll
Until then, try walking around
looking fra “positive” stray ideas.
And at the same time, pick up a
paper and decide which stray ideas
should be sacrificed to put your stray
ideas in print.
It might be a lot harder than you
Kerber is a sophomore news
editorial major and a Daily
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