Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hospital lauches blog rally to save The Boston Globe

I’ve written a lot of stories that exposed some unpleasant things about very good hospitals. And I’ll write some more, I imagine.

In journalism, you are always in danger of alienating thin-skinned sources. So, it was interesting to see BI chief Paul Levy
lead the blog charge to save The Boston Globe.

A quick review of the Globe archives finds that Levy, personally, has good reason to support the paper. A recent column praising his handling of potential layoffs drew a strong response. And, a Globe investigation in December reported that BI rival, Partners Healthcare, had been gaming the system in a way that raised the cost of health insurance in the state.

I think the Globe does a great job covering hospitals. And I don’t think they favor Levy. But he does get a lot of good press, despite a campaign by the healthcare workers union, 1199 SEIU, that charges the hospital with everything from union busting to poor patient care.

Still, give Levy credit for recognizing that health care will suffer with the demise of reporting -- which is really what we are losing with newspapers. It is in the public’s interest to have professional reporters -- notjust bloggers -- covering cities like Boston. Remember, the Herald has been teetering for years.

We health reporters translate medical findings, expose problems with providers and try to explain reform. Sometimes we actually produce something
literary. And, like the reporters who cover government, we’re watchdogs. It’s not so-called “gotcha” journalism –We look at how things are supposed to work – like the FDA, Walter Reed Medical Center and Partners. If they’re not working that way, we look closer.

Reporting is hard – I have to teach teenagers how to do it. And as imperfect as you think we are, you’ll miss us when were all gone. I often find the the NYTimes link to AP health and science news empty these days.

Disclosure: A close family member works at the Globe.

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