Journalism 101

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on November 1, 2010

If you turned in this article in Professor Hoy’s journalism 101 class, you’d get an F.

Single-payer coverage sought by doctors

The government is the only insurance provider in such a system, touted by some local physicians

By Bob Cuddy | [email protected]

These are gloomy days for those who believe President Barack Obama’s health care plan did not go far enough. The prevailing political wisdom is that he overreached, and there is talk of repealing the bill that he did sign should Republicans recapture Congress.

Nonetheless, some local doctors have joined with others nationwide to continue to push for single-payer health care coverage, even though they know they won’t get it anytime soon. Under such a system — like the one in Canada — the government becomes the sole provider of health coverage, with no private or other insurance plans.

Lapp belongs to a national group called Physicians for a National Health Care Program. He says a dozen other doctors in the county belong.

Lapp also helped organize a visit in San Luis Obispo last month for another universal health care group, the Mad As Hell Doctors, who also are working for single-payer health coverage. Lapp described single payer, in general terms, as Medicare for all.

Don’t bother reading the whole thing, it’s a propaganda piece.

Problems with this story:

  • Headline falsely communicates unanimity on the subject.
  • When was this visit by the “Mad As Hell Doctors”? Story says “last month” article appeared on Monday, Nov. 1. Was it “last week” or even earlier? The more lag time there was between the news hook (the visit) and the appearance of the article, the more egregious the following failings are.
  • Story quotes two people, both on the same side of the issue. Is this a news story or an opinion piece?
  • Story says “70 percent of Americans and 55 percent of their doctors want single payer” and attributes that number to one of the proponents. No other source for the claim. Reporter doesn’t bother to look up polls by reputable, disinterested polling firms which suggest the opposite.
  • Reporter doesn’t bother to find a local doctor who opposes single-payer. Expect to see letters to the editor from these rare, seldom-seen creatures appearing in the coming days.

I suppose the cynic in me just thinks this is the kind of garbage you get from a small town newspaper – but it wasn’t that way when I was working at even smaller papers.

Journalism. Wound. Self-inflicted.


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November 2010



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