All of this is disheartening. Comments like the ones I heard from presumably bright students studying at one of the country’s premier universities about the crowning domestic achievement of the Obama administration have profound implications for those who still believe journalism can perform an educational function. The students have presented a devastating critique of our coverage of health reform. Its message: we need to forget the stories that those with vested interests want us to write. The population is not ready (and clearly not even interested) in stories about the nitty-gritty of who is going to run some state’s insurance exchange, whether a medical home model is up and running, how an accountable care organization may or may not slow down medical cost inflation, or whether an insurer complies with the MLR. The coverage has been too much Politico and too much policy wonk.

Dear colleagues, we have failed the public, a point made again and again by the polls. As the Affordable Care Act enters its second year, it’s time to redefine how to connect with the public in ways that matter to them. That is my birthday wish.

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Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and 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. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.