Every Friday, we excerpt some of the most insightful, articulate, interesting, and entertaining comments we receive each week. Think we’ve missed something? Well…comment!

Reporters Doubling as Docs in Haiti

On Wednesday, Curtis Brainard wrote about television journalists in Haiti who are also trained as doctors, and the journalistic ethics involved when someone like CBS’s Jennifer Ashton or CNN’s Sanjay Gupta performs medical care on air (and then tweets about it).

“But what about patients’ privacy? It seems that in exchange for medical care, the earthquake victims give up their healthcare privacy. It is helpful for the world to see the extent of the disaster and the pictures convey the urgency of need. But some of it seems to not even consider that privacy is as valid in a disaster as in any other healthcare setting. And since they’re real doctors, they would normally be fully aware of privacy issues. There are ways to photograph injuries while masking patient identity. That’s the standard for medical publications, signed consent or at least masked identity. For patients lying on stretchers perhaps unconscious (the injured who cannot give full consent to photography), I think they should make more of an effort to conceal their identities or move the camera away from patients who are not fully clothed, for example.”


The NYT Will Charge Online

The New York Times announced this week that it will start charging readers for online content, on a metered model, sometime in early 2011. Better late than never, wrote Ryan Chittum on Wednesday. Some readers agreed, but wondered why the wait.

“Why is the NY Times waiting a year? Simple, they want their fellow papers around the country to play follow the leader. The Times knows they would be going it alone if they throw the switch today. Too many readers would bail and read free news elsewhere. So will enough major dailies” take the bait” and put up a pay wall to lessen the availability of free news? I doubt it. However the Times is probably hoping a significant number will do it which will drive enough subscribers to make it worthwhile.”

Rich price

“’We have to get this really, really right’, Mr. Sulzberger says.

“And he’s right about that.

“BUT — and please pay attention, NY Times — getting something ‘really, really right’ is very often about very difficult choices, not merely about formats, colors, and pricing. It’s about aims, identity, and philosophy.

“An example: I’ll happily state here and now that I’m NOT going to pay — for the paper or for online access — if the Times is not going to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so to speak. What I mean by that is this: The NY Times should understand what it is to ‘serve the public good’, genuinely, in the deepest sense of that ideal. In the sense that Thomas Jefferson, Edward R. Murrow, George Orwell, and many others understood to be vitally important.

“For example, if the Times’ business model is to gain a large part of their revenue from ExxonMobil advertising, and another large part from the paying public, AND IF the Times thus continues its present habit of not wanting to upset ExxonMobil with on-target, honest reporting regarding the oil and ExxonMobil aspects of global warming, then forget it. I can pay for entertainment and for half-truths in a million other places, or get them free.

“If The Times wants to get it really, really right, and rebuild credibility, and gain back my revenue (I probably used to spend $500 a year on The Times), then it has some considerable soul-searching to do. That’s my advice.

“I do hope you make the right choice.

Be Well,


Jeff Huggins

“Mr. Huggins is on to something. Honesty is a quality missing from far too many newpapers and other media venues, as it is in the millieu of politicians.

“We don’t, as a general rule, believe much of what we read or hear anymore. An article (citation needed) the other day indicated that in some countries, some more advanced techologically than ours, print news readership is up while on-line access is also up. Could that be due to a greater degree of trust in the media of those countries?

“Doug Underwood’s “When MBAs Rule the Newsrooms” notes that most media now regard their newsrooms as “profit centers’ and as such cut expenses in the obvious place, news coverage. Too often political news and corporate news comes from “spokesmen” or handouts. Obviously, the spin is not even mentioned.

Kimberly Chou is a writer in New York.