Journalism: An example of excellent journalism

Journalism: An example of excellent journalism

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This blog has noted numerous embarrassing reporting errors and transgressions into propaganda messaging by media.

There is, also, good journalism being done too and I will start highlighting examples. Here is one to start: Free to check in, but not to leave: Patients seeking mental-health treatment in Washington have been held against their will | The Seattle Times

The story, of course, does focus on negative issues, suggesting that private psychiatric hospitals may be holding patients involuntarily who should be discharged, and may be doing so for the purpose of enhancing revenue. In the report, we see only the “negative spin” and have not heard from other patients who may have received successful treatment and benefited from their stay, whether voluntarily or not.

Patients who go to a hospital and receive beneficial treatment does not qualify as a news story. Imagine reading that 150 patients were treated at this hospital this week, and nearly all got better! That would never be a news report.

But, change it to 5 patients over the past two to three years were held longer than they should have, after asking to leave, and did not see a benefit. See how “negative” spin is news but “positive” spin is not? A focus on negativity, unfortunately, will skew readers towards reduced trust and confidence in institutions – because we only see the bad things and none (or rarely) the good things.

Typically, bad things are rare – and that’s what makes them attention grabbing. If a plane crashes at our local airport, that would be news. But if there have been thousands of airline flights in and out of the local airport without incident for a year or two, there will not be any news report on that! Good things are not news!


From the comments to the article, many commenters noted that the news report read like a hit piece on private mental health treatment, focused on a small number of anecdotes, and did not attempt to address valid issues as to why a voluntarily committed individual may not be in a position to safely request their own release. For example, what would happen to a provider who released an individual who then committed suicide?  What about releasing a voluntary commit who then leaves and causes harm or death to someone?

The news report focuses on perceived problems – the negativity focus – and does not offer meaningful suggestions on fixing the perceived problems.

That last sentence is key, and applies to much news reporting – it is always easy to find fault – but hard to come up with workable solutions. Most news reporting is fault finding and does not offer useful solutions. Several commenters pointed this out in their comments.

Consequently, this report might not be as good as I first thought it was.

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