Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How About Some Good News?

I just watched the Obama news conference and feel compelled to make an observation.

Is it just me or has the news media and the blogosphere become obsessed with bad news?

Many people have questioned Tim Geithner's longevity as Treasury Secretary because of his performance to date. He was confirmed 60 days ago.

How can a single human turn around a multi-trillion dollar economy in 60 days?

Many people have questioned the Obama administration's commitment to Electronic Health Records. Recent articles have challenged the claims of quality improvement, enhanced safety and lower costs. Several of these articles have cherry picked from the few negative studies about EHRs. As you've seen from my blog, leading experts wrote evidence-based summaries of the literature to offer a balanced view on these issues. Neither the Wall Street Journal nor the Washington Post published our submissions.

Every day the press is filled with philosophical discussions from folks outside the trenches, second guessing the plans for the economy, the wars, and healthcare reform.

No one seems to support the idea of steady progress, phased accomplishment, or a positive trajectory. It's been 60 days.

Folks, let's give these folks a chance to do their work, offering our energy to work together to improve the world we live in, not endless criticism of their first efforts. As writer Ben Hecht wrote "Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock."

12 comments:

ukdataguy said...

I am left to wonder the relevance of so called news organizaitons. The Journal and the Post clearly have an agenda, that is to create an environment where they are at the forefront of controversy and so called news, just to keep their mastheads in the public eye.
If you want to gauge the real pulse of the country, look to the blogs and micro-blog services where you get instant, unfiltered, reactions to events in almost real time.

David Aylward said...

Very well said, John.

Kim-Son said...

But the press SHOULD be obsessed with bad news. I would rather have a society where the press beats up on the government and raises multiple perspectives on an issue, no matter how absurd those perspectives might be, than a society where only the good news are reported and where the government is never criticized. The press must be critical of everything.

Go to communist Vietnam, where I grew up, and you'll appreciate the critical eyes of the American press.

RDeWald said...

I find it helpful to keep in mind that the news industry now almost singularly exists to sustain people's attention in-between advertisements. That's not to say that reporters are evil, apathetic or duplicitous, but the businesses, the ultimate decision-maker about what gets published, are motivated by selling advertising.

So, people attend to threats, it is natural to do so. Given enough time, and lacking a compelling opposing force, the system leans towards bad news. That's not a conspiracy, it's just the natural result of the way they apply their resources.

The nice thing about technology like Twitter is it enables a global reach for other sources of information. I followed Obama's news conference tonight with a tweeting reporter in the room, and watched the video feed on C-SPAN.

While I wouldn't argue that's superior to serious learned commentary from a deliberate, informed, professional observer, those people are having trouble mobilizing (i.e., getting a job with) the traditional publishing machinery necessary to reach a large audience. Decisions in that industry are made by the same metric they use to set the price for advertising. Those committed to just reporting what is happening, in proportion to it's rational relevance to the audience, are being pushed out by those leaning more towards eye/ear candy, fear and conflict.

It is not unlike the biases introduced in medical care in this country because of the way we pay for it.

Maybe what we don't need is the machinery.

Nice post, John.

John said...

Very well said John. I can understand Kim-Son's perspective but having a critical eye and "piling on" are not the same. The current obsession seems focussed on "piling on".

I think that the ship will take some time to turn and I applaud the open communication as the agenda develops.

John Feikema

Jonathan Merrill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonathan Merrill said...

would agree, but I challenge the perception with a question. Where was this sentiment when the republicans where in power? Seems to me, an independent, that everyone became numb or accepted the critical eye when our former president was in office. Democrats now are under that scrutiny and observations such as these are being raised.

Wes Rishel said...

Of course the press will seek controversy. Arguably this is its role, certainly it sells more soap. In Hey, Washington Post, Wake Up! I just tried to give some voice to the specific nego-controversy around EHRs.

karlub said...

Mr. Merrill is on to something, I think, although I'v only been with you for the last couple months, so perhaps this is a theme of yours.

If it is not, though, I would suggest that ever it has been thus, since about 1973. Some would argue there are particular policy-makers who have been immune to it for periods of time-- Giuliani for the first half of his administration and Obama for much of the presidential race both come to mind-- but these hiatuses are temporary, and the exceptions that prove the rule.

Roux said...

Sure let's give them some more time to pass some bills that they and Congress haven't had time to read. Let's have them push it through so the public doesn't get time to read it either.

Should we even question Obama and his administration? Or should we just welcome our new overlords?

The Feds have been pushing EMR or EHR for years now.

Dirk and Leah Stanley said...

Bravo!!

castonthomas said...

I suppose your comments here would be right on if the policies that Messrs Geithner & Obama have constructed & proposed had ever worked anywhere or any place in the history of the earth.

Both men have made both contradictory and irresponsible statements that have kept the markets on a rollercoaster. Giving them a chance to travel further down the road of ineptitude and irresponsibility without criticism? Sorry, I can't agree.

And in response to ukdatagay... you want " instant, unfiltered, reactions to events in" <> "real time"? Go back and watch what the stock market has donne every time Mr. Geithner has held a press conference or testified before a committee. That's not people talking with their blog. Those are people schooled in the history and forecasts of where this administration is headed.