September 30, 2008

TEM featured on AARP.org

Homeless...not Hopeless. This is the message that Lieutenant Commander Rick Koca tries to promote through his charity organization Stand Up For Kids.....and this is also the title of TEM's short film currently featured on the AARP Magazine's website.

"In our country, 13 kids die on the streets everyday. That was just more than I was willing to accept that I could go retire, that I could not do anything anymore," 66-year-old Koca says in the film. So in 1990, Koca founded Stand Up for Kids, a national organization run by volunteers who help homeless kids get off the streets.

Written, directed, and edited by Julie Winokur and photographed by photojournalist Ed Kashi, the 9-minute video Homeless...not Hopeless is the first of an AARP online film series focusing on adults who choose to re-career later in life.

Click on the link below to watch the film Homeless...not Hopeless:
http://www.aarpmagazine.org/people/rick_koca.html

Click on the link below to learn more about Stand Up for Kids:
http://www.standupforkids.org/

September 26, 2008

As Financial Markets Crash, Insurance Premiums Continue to Rise and Put a Strain on American Families

"Even as Washington and Wall Street debate the best way to avert an economic disaster, increasing numbers of Americans are struggling with another financial crisis: the growing burden of unpaid medical bills." This first sentence of a New York Times' article Health Care Costs Increase Strain, Studies Find specifically describes an issue that many Americans may not realize during this tumultuous financial time--that the nation's economic downturn is having a significant toll not only on Americans' wallets but on their health as well.

The Commonwealth Fund states that "the federal minimum wage is now three dollars an hour lower, in real terms, than it was 40 years ago; gas and food prices are soaring; home values are declining; growth in health care costs is far outstripping income growth; and people are increasingly going without the protection of health coverage--nearly 9 million have lost their health insurance since 2000." As a result of these economic circumstances, more working families are struggling to pay their medical bills, accumulating medical debt, and are forced to make tough financial choices that often involves sacrificing needed health care and health insurance. Need a stat to put this issue into perspective? 41% of working-age adults, or 72 million people, reported a problem paying their medical bills or had accrued medical debt, up from 34%, or 58 million, in 2005 AND, in 2007, more than 28% of U.S. adults (an estimated 50 million people) were uninsured for some time during the past year.

Now, two new studies released September 24, 2008 by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Center for Studying Health System Change, provide further evidence of the mounting strain that medical care is placing on working Americans...and these studies were completed earlier this year BEFORE the financial markets reached their current state of crisis! According to the studies, employees are paying an average of $3,354 in premiums for family coverage, more than double the amount they paid in 1999; and the total cost for family coverage now averages $12,680 a year. Due to these high insurance premiums, more and more families are unable to pay their medical costs and are therefore borrowing money to pay for these expenses or are opting not to have health insurance at all. In a study by the nonpartisan Center for Studying Health System Change, based on its national survey of households, nearly 1 of every 5 families had problems paying medical bills last year AND nearly 20% of those having difficulty said they considered declaring personal bankruptcy as a result of their medical bills.

Wanna know something else? Employees aren't the only ones affected by the increasing health insurance premiums....EMPLOYERS AND COMPANIES are affected as well! Almost all large employers offered coverage but only 62% of small companies did. Employees working for these big companies were also paying about $1,000 less a year for family coverage. So to deal with high-deductible premiums, employers of small companies are faced with the choice of dropping coverage altogether or asking their employees to pay much more in the form of deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses....many haven chosen the latter. A September 24 article in the Boston Globe says that in just ONE year, the percentage of workers enrolled in high-deductible insurance of $1,000 or more increased from 12% to 18%.

Let's give you a bigger picture to think about: insurance premiums have increased 119% since 1999, whereas workers' earnings have only increased 34% during the same time period and overall inflation increased 29%.

So what does this all mean? It means that high-insurance premiums are hitting both the INSURED and UNINSURED, and MUCH MORE needs to be done to make health care coverage more affordable for consumers and employers. In the Boston Globe article, Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., and chairman of the health subcommittee within the House Ways and Means Committee, says that "until we have universal coverage, these cost shifts away from insurers to consumers will continue."

September 23, 2008

TEM's India multimedia piece on National Geographic

National Geographic Magazine is currently featuring on its website our 30-minute multimedia piece, India's Fast Lane to the Future.

This 5-part film documents India's new 3,633-mile national expressway, and its effects on the the country's diverse population.

The film accompanies the article Fast Lane to the Future featured in the October edition of National Geographic Magazine, created by NG correspondent Don Belt and our very own world-reknowned photojournalist Ed Kashi.

Watch India's Fast Lane to the Future and see how the highway is changing the face of India: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/video/player#/?titleID=1785267177&catID=1

What are your thoughts on India's new superhighway and growing modernization?

September 11, 2008

What is Medicare...and is it healthy?


In this week's edition of Newsweek Magazine, Newsweek reporter Mary Carmichael discusses Medicare with Joseph Newhouse, a Medicare expert and professor of health policy at Harvard University. Although Medicare is a key campaign issue in this year's presidential election, Carmichael and Newshouse discuss why NEITHER John McCain or Barack Obama are talking much about it. Click on the link below to read the Newsweek interview:

September 5, 2008

CURSE OF THE BLACK GOLD featured on Slate.com


Check out Slates' review of our film Curse of the Black Gold and watch the film. (Slate is a daily magazine on the web that offers analysis and commentary about politics, news, and culture.)

An excerpt from Slate's September 5 article Curse of the Black - The devastating impact of 50 years of oil exploitation in the Niger Delta:

Fifty years ago, oil was discovered in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Today, at 2.1 million barrels per day, Nigeria is the sixth-largest oil-producing country in the world and a major oil partner of the United States. Although its oil industry generates millions of dollars in revenues daily, the average resident of the Niger Delta struggles to survive on less than $1 per day. These startling facts are portrayed in Curse of the Black Gold, a multimedia video produced by Julie Winokur of Talking Eyes Media.....


American Filmmaker Arrested in Nigeria

On August 31, a New York-based freelance filmmaker and journalist, Andrew Berends, and his interpreter were arrested and accused of spying while working in the oil-producing Delta region of Nigeria. Berends' passport and equipment were confiscated and he was taken into custody by Nigeria's State Security Service.

Unfortunately, Berends is not the only journalist to be detained while working in the Niger Delta. Our very own photojournalist Ed Kashi was arrested at gunpoint by a Nigerian Naval task force (and later handed over to the S.S.S.) for photographing a flow station from the river without permission. Ed was detained for six days before he was finally released.

The New York Times accurately describes the Niger Delta in its September 3, 2008 article "American Filmmaker Arrested in Nigeria."

"Despite its oil riches, the Niger Delta is a desperately poor increasingly lawless part of the country, where wealth is siphoned away by corrupt officials. Militants demand a greater share of the area's oil resources and claim to be fighting on behalf of the impoverished residents, but also appear to be engaging in many criminal acts of violence. Hundreds of foreign workers and wealthy Nigerians have been kidnapped for ransom, and oil theft is rampant."


The Agip flow station in Nembe, located in the Nigerian state of Bayelsa,
where Ed Kashi and his interpreter were arrested in June 2006.



Go to www.curseoftheblackgoldbook.com to learn more about the Niger Delta, see Ed Kashi's photos of the region, and to read his journal entries written during his detention (listed under the "EXTRAS!" tab). You can also click on the "Curse of the Black Gold" video listed under the column FILM at the top-right of this page.

September 3, 2008

Thank You for Supporting TEM

At Talking Eyes Media, we aim to use the power of pictures to address issues that are too often underrepresented in the main stream media. And when we receive feedback, such as the thoughtful letter Wendy Mahan wrote, we are thrilled to learn that our multimedia has touched someone and made a difference in their life. As we continue to create documentaries, we hope you will continue to share your thoughts with us. Thank you for your support!

[Wendy is an Instructional Designer at Pennsylvania State University's College of Health and Human Development. Below is her letter that she wrote to Julie Winokur, the co-founder of TEM and the director/producer of "The Sandwich Generation."]


August 29, 2008

Julie,

What a poignant video. One of the faculty members dropped by my office while I was watching it, and we just sat in silence (with an occasional, "Oh my goodness!)

You touched on all the elements that the faculty here are trying to get across to the nursing students. They want them to realize that the elderly are people, not "throw a ways." The difficulty of locating services for the elderly and the psychosocial aspects are also well covered here. Thank you so much for sharing this with me.

I'm honestly in awe of you. I am your same age and my parents are in their late 70's, but they are relatively healthy. The sacrifices you have made are incredible, and you seem so strong. I am also impressed with your husband as well - he is a good, decent human being. What wonderful examples you both are for your children.

Wow,

Take care and best of luck to you.

Wendy