9/24/2005

Tribune's Coverage of Benefis Fiasco

First of all, Dona, yes, I did scoop the Tribune. Thanks for noticing.

Second, I don't know what it is with the Tribune's reporters. Are they afraid to piss off the big employers like the City, Benefis, or Wal-Mart?

Because I like Paula Wilmot as a reporter, but couldn't she have gone a lot farther with her story yesterday about Benefis' attempts to shed community and charitable controls?

First of all, the headline (which I know Ms. Wilmot didn't write) said: "Benefis weighs split with Providence." No they don't. They're not weighing anything. They have "asked" to end their affiliation.

Clearly the hospital's administrators had a contingency plan if their intentions where discovered before they wanted them to be discovered. And clearly that plan included obfuscating and hedging..."oh, it's not a done deal." But in the hospital's mind it is a done deal, and Ms. Wilmot had the documents that said as much. So why does she let them spin her?

Then John Goodnow, Benefis CEO, says the hospital will explain everything "when the time is right." When is that? When it's a done deal? Should the report ask when the time is right?

When asked why it's been kept quiet until now, Goodnow said "'because there has been no reason to talk about it.' It's a no-win situation, he added." Well, sure there's a reason to talk about it. It's our community hospital. I think we want to know their plans, especially if they are forging ahead into a "no-win situation."

No offense, Paula, but you can do better. Push these people, get excited, make them answer you. Bring your intellect to the game.

5 comments:

The Raving Norseman said...

Absolutely right. I'm not as alarmed --yet-- at the overall story as you are, but I'm appalled at the quality of journalism we're seeing --even from the Trib. If I come away from an article with a half-dozen obvious issues unaddressed*, then clearly, the job wasn't performed competently.



*not "unanswered;" the Trib isn't a court of law, and folks like Goodnow aren't under oath --but there should be some evidence in the article that the questions were asked!

a-fire-fly said...

newspaper reporters are supposed to be above fear. They are supposed to ask the hard questions, and keep digging untill they get answers.

GeeGuy said...

I'm with fire-fly. The Norseman is correct that Goodnow isn't under oath, isn't under compulsion to answer, but I think he is more obligated to do so than the Norseman suggests.

And if he dodges the issues, write the story in a way that makes that obvious.

Anonymous said...

"Second, I don't know what it is with the Tribune's reporters. Are they afraid to piss off the big employers like the City, Benefis, or Wal-Mart?"

Like it or not, Advertising dollars trumps news anyday. That's why you never read anything in any paper about ripoffs and price fixing in the funeral industry. Funeral homes are a big revenue stream for newspapers.

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