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Covering the healthcare debate

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The news media spent much of the summer focusing on public gatherings where people denounced plans to overhaul the nation's healthcare system. A number of forums featuring people who think an overhaul is long overdue, and who generally support the Obama administration's efforts, also drew coverage.

We covered several in the Triangle, but missed a couple. Thus, we heard from forces both on the right and the left about "media conspiracies." We are keenly aware that some studiously count inches given to the "antis" and the "pros." We strive to be fair, but we don't think that merely keeping up with who is for, or against, something is adequately doing our jobs.  In fact, we have a long history of covering the healthcare system and our coverage of the most recent overhaul effort has gone far beyond public demonstrations.

We will continue to strive for depth in our reporting on this issue, including following the action in Washington and examining the impact on local healthcare providers and the region's industries.

We do believe that hearing from individuals who will be affected by any changes, or no change, is also an important element of our coverage. We will soon begin a series featuring Triangle residents discussing healthcare and the question of whether a revamp is needed. We did not approach these people based on assumptions about their politics or where we think they might come down on the question of reform. 

Rather, we looked for people from a wide variety of life circumstances and occupations. We asked them to talk about their personal situations, their concerns about the healthcare system and what specific changes, if any, would effectively address their concerns. One of the first to be featured is the owner of a small business.  Others include physicians, insurance and hospital administrators, seniors on Medicare, people who lost health insurance with the loss of a job, people who have private insurance through work, and people who have chronic illnesses. 

We think these personal stories will enlighten us all.

We welcome your feedback. 

Linda Williams

Senior Editor/News 




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N&O Reportage of Health Care events

In the main, the N&O and most newspapers have been fairly balanced when reporting the Town Hall and other Health Care events. 

Having attended several of these sessions; in hopes of learning what is actually likely to come out of Congress at the end, not what all the proposals and amendments might be; there is one question regarding that coverage.

Frequently several hundred, up to 2,000 people have been present seeking information, possibly 50% showing obvious support for Health Care Reform.

A relative handful of screaming, cursing, hysterically accusatory demonstrators are present until ejected or silenced.

The N&O provides as much or more front page copy, headlines and photos to the latter, and sometimes more, than to the 90%  who were clearly not part of that cabal.

The good aspect, the N&O with that glaring weakness, was not as devoted to the sensationalist, attention seeking fanatics as Television's on-air personalities locally and nationally.

Case in point -- Until ten days ago, 99% of Americans had never heard of Joe Wilson. He hurled two words during a Presidential speech and instantly became known.

Joe's two words have  overshadowed the President's detailed proposals to Congress, allowing the Health Care Profiteers shills to continue with the same tired lies we have heard for decades.

The same screaming, ranting nonsense which has proven successful for the profiteers to date.

Does anyone actually believe Joe Wilson acted without conspiratorial support?


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About the blogger

Linda WilliamsLinda Williams is a native of Fayetteville and graduate of UNC-CH. Her journalistic experience includes working at The Oregonian, The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. She can be reached at