Best of 2009: Trudy Lieberman

Lieberman picks her top stories from 2009

1. The “Baucus Watch” series: Sixteen posts that describe the machinations, in-fighting, and political pressure on the Senate Finance Committee as its chairman fulfilled his task of delivering a bill to Harry Reid. From the suspense over “will he or won’t he support the public plan” to the arrest of single-payer advocates, the posts gave a rare on-going glimpse of an important Congressional committee at work.

2. The “Health Reform Lessons from Massachusetts” series: This series showed what was really happening with the Bay State’s health reform law. All was not well—a point that has escaped the politicos in Washington, their academic advisers, and the national press. Massachusetts’s reform law and its lack of cost containment bear watching by the press, for it may turn out that it will provide a different sort of model than reform supporters were looking for.

3. The “CJR’s Town Hall Meetings” series: I liked this one for the candor shown by ordinary people, like the eighty-one-year old man in a Pennsylvania Wal-Mart who decried socialized medicine but then said he had no dislikes about Medicare because it was a “proven government plan that works.” The series showed that the media had not explained much about reform to the people in whose name the battle was waged.

4. Health Reform and Obama’s Consumer Protections: A seriously underreported story, and when it did get reported, most media outlets missed the main points—that some of the protections were already in law and others were likely to get watered down. We’ve already seen this happen. So much for presidential pledges.

5. What a Young Reporter Learned from the UAW: Not a health story, but one that resonated with the public, particularly for one man who was the son of an auto worker. He thanked me for helping him to understand his father better. A writer can’t hope for more.

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Trudy Lieberman is a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR's healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. She also blogs for Health News Review. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.