Last week, Harold Pollack (bio), a University of Chicago professor who has been contributing to The New Republic‘s The Treatment blog, recently referred to health care reform reporting as “the most careful, most thorough, and most effective reporting of any major story, ever.”
AHCJ Immediate Past President Trudy Lieberman took issue with that in a post on CJR.org.
Better coverage than the Vietnam War; the civil rights movement; the consumer movement? Really? In the case of the civil rights struggle, the press helped change the discourse; Americans began to view race in a new way, which led to the eventual passage of the Civil Rights Act. During the Vietnam War, the media effectively changed the public dialogue from a war we couldn’t lose to one we could not win. In the early days of the consumer movement, media coverage of Ralph Nader led Congress to enact significant consumer protections. Coverage of health reform has hardly risen to that level.
Lieberman writes that health care reform coverage failed because the public was inadequately educated on the finer points of reform efforts. Her evidence? That public opinion was roughly split on reform. Had reporting been better, Lieberman writes, public support levels would have been higher. She then brings up a number of issues she says were undercovered and uses examples to back them up.
For advice from Lieberman and three other journalists on the front lines on what needs to be covered next and how to approach this complex topic, see this special tip sheet.