VIDEO: The Changing Brain

Over the summer I had the privilege of working with Scientific American and AARP to produce a series of videos about brain health and the science of how the brain ages. The first of the segments has now been published. This one features Dr. Richard Lipton, professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Please take a look (if your screen shows only black, just keep rolling past the short commercial:)

How has your brain changed over the years? In this video, we hear from everyday people about their experiences, and Dr. Richard Lipton, professor of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, explains what physically happens to the brain as we get older and how we can maintain a healthy brain for years to come.



Share of voice and sentiment in presidential campaign media coverage

With one of the candidates complaining about the “corrupt” and “lying” media on a daily basis and another who has had reporters singularly focused on everything except policy questions, many of us face questions about media bias. While the debate will never end, some facts may make our conversations more productive.

The comprehensive media database LexisNexis has been tracking news coverage of each of the candidates and their running mates. Their U.S. Presidential Campaign Tracker finds that in the past 30 days:

  • Overall, Trump has dominated “share of voice” (the number of times that his messages were reported) with 55% (353,297 articles,) compared to 45% (278,452 articles) for Clinton.
  • The overwhelming majority of coverage of both candidates is rated as “neutral.”
  • The number of “positive” stories about each candidate stayed fairly steady. Trump had a bump in negative stories during the week following release of the Access Hollywood tape in which he boasted about groping women. Clinton has had several spikes in negative coverage, including yesterday (483 negative stories vs. 334 positive, and 3,610 neutral. Trump had 234 negative stories yesterday vs. 187 positive, and 2,293 neutral.)

More details in the charts below. Click on each date to see the numbers for each type of story:

For another way to measure media coverage, see what the New York Times did when it tried tallying up the dollar value of each candidate’s coverae.

When political trolls invade your brand reputation 

Doug Levy quoted by

If your brand gets dragged into something, consider whether it is best to stay out of the picture,” said Doug Levy, chief strategist of Doug Levy Strategic Communications. “Skittles’ statement was definitive and clear enough to separate the brand from the debate over refugee policies. Rarely do companies move so fast, but this is an example of speed and skill.

Doug Levy mentioned in book about Yahoo

Office Lens 20160304-160221 Journalist Nicholas Carlson’s book, Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!, includes an account of an interaction between Doug Levy and Jerry Yang, which Carlson says happened in 2000. Here is an excerpt:

“By late 2000, tensions were boiling over inside Yahoo. One day, Jerry Yang sat down for an interview with Doug Levy, a former journalist who had become well known for his tech industry coverage in USA Today. Levy was no longer a member of the media. He was working as an independent media consultant and he’d figured out a good gig. He would go into a company and interview its executives as though he were going to write an article. Then he’d prepare a critical piece and let them read it. The idea was to show them where the company’s holes were.”

Read more.



Photos: 11 great tools to find and use images without copyright infringement

Every blogger knows that images are essential both to better storytelling and attracting an audience, but not every blogger creates their own photographs. This article is intended to help you find and use good images without infringing on another person’s creative property (i.e., stealing.)

Photographers are no different from bloggers, authors, software engineers or anyone else whose living depends on the intellectual property they create. Many photographers are highly compensated for their work and won’t hesitate to take action if they discover that one of their images was purloined, as they should. Receiving a demand letter (or an invoice!) from an aggrieved copyright owner is something to avoid.

Let’s start with a couple of basic rules:

  1. Giving credit does not by itself make using someone’s images ok or legal.
  2. Many photographers make obtaining permission easy.
  3. There are lots of ways to get images that are freely available.

For a good discussion about using other people’s content generally, check out this blog post by attorney Ruth Carter. For images, Carter says she relies on images that are protected under a Creative Commons license to modify and commercialize the original.

All Rights Reserved

If you find an image that you like, check the copyright notice. This is sometimes in the caption, although occasionally you have to hunt around on a website for it. If it says “All rights reserved,” then you must obtain permission before using it.

The phrase “all rights reserved” is not mandatory. Unless content owners expressly give permission, you should presume that they are keeping all use rights. That means you must contact the owner and negotiate permission if you want to use their material. Sometimes a quick email is all it takes. With companies, there may be rights management departments, forms to fill out, and licensing fees based on the intended use. For most bloggers, this is more trouble than it is worth.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a framework for copyright protection that includes clear information on what permissions are available. Many people are happy to freely share their content for certain kinds of use, so there are a ton of images with a Creative Commons license. Just make sure that you read carefully. There are six different categories. Only three of those categories allow commercial use. All six require attribution. The differences primarily have to do with commerical or non-commercial use and whether you can alter the content or only use it exactly as the originator published it. More information about each of the Creative Commons licenses is available on the Creative Commons website.

Image Search Tools

Here are some sources for images that can be used by bloggers and others without going through a lot of hoops for a license:

  1. Creative Commons has a portalto the search features on about a dozen sites that have images or other content available for reuse. You can select whether you want to search for content that can be used commercially or modified.


Public Domain,

2. Wikimedia Commons is a repository for a vast array of images from individuals, organizations, libraries, government and other sources that are generally available for republishing. Many of the images are in the public domain, which means you can use them as you like, no restrictions. The typewriter image here was contributed by an individual who chose not to retain copyright.

Consistent with the sharing culture of Wikimedia (and Wikipedia,) the site prompts you to include a credit line and makes it easy. Just click on the bar that says “You can attribute the author” to get a ready-to-use plain text or HTML credit line.

3. Flickr has long been a favorite site for photo sharing by serious amateurs and some professionals, in part because of its built-in rights management. If you search for an image, the copyright status is at the top of the download screen. Flickr also allows you to search by license type.

The options include the variations of Creative Commons licenses, no restrictions, and “U.S. Government works.” (See below for more on this last category.)


4. Pixabay is a search site for images that are in the public domain. It also has an especially good explanation of what that means, and why “public domain” does not necessarily mean unfettered use.

5. Wylio is a service that streamlines the process to find and use images from Flickr. Basic search is free, but for $3 a month, users can search and find images via and in one step, obtain cut-and-paste embed code for WordPress or other blogs. For non-Wordpress blogs, the image download button has the reminder: “Don’t forget to add the credits somewhere,” which is mandatory under Creative Commons licenses. It also provides a credit line for immediate use.

6. Similar to Flickr, Google Image Search has an option to search images by license type. However, because Google search pulls from all websites, you must verify the copyright or permissions on the image’s original page to be sure.

Two healthy eaglets residing in the nest in a tree in the U.S. National Arboretum. Photo (C) American Eagle Foundation / (Screenshot captured online by Carol Ceasar)

7. PRNewswire is another source for images that typically are restricted but permission is freely granted to bloggers or other journalists using the pictures as part of a relevant story. The cute baby eagle picture is one example.

U.S. Government Works

The last category on the Flickr advanced license search is one gateway to a vast resource that many bloggers overlook: By definition, nearly all images produced by the federal government are available for public use without restriction. This means that spectacular science images from NASA or the National Institutes of Health are among the assets that are free for the taking. (The rule is not so simple for state or other government units, but these can be great sources, too.)

In addition to images that you can find on Flickr or Google, here are direct links to a few federal sources for images:

8. Health and science: NIH Image Bank and the Public Health Image Library (CDC)

9. Space, physics, astronomy, geology: NASA

10. Military and more: Department of Defense

11. Outdoors: Bureau of Land Management

Other tools?

If you have other ways to find images for your blog, please share in the comments.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended as legal advice. Consult your own attorney about any specific questions. I am licensed to practice in Maryland.

This post was originally published at

When Fear Becomes an Unintended Public Health Problem

Dr. Tom Frieden (left), director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testifies about Zika virus with Dr. Anthony Fauci (center), director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, assistant administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Global Health, on Capitol Hill on Feb. 10. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images via NPR

Here is an analysis that I did for NPR about public health communications lessons from the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and what public health officials need to do differently with Zika or any new outbreaks.

The way the public perceives scientific information has changed, and public health officials need to adapt to those changes.