Regular listeners to HERE & THERE can’t miss how often I converse with journalists from the Associated Press (AP). There are 2 big reasons for this. With it’s worldwide network of bureaus and reporters, AP consistently offers the nose-to-news perspective that is, for me, the foremost situational distinguisher of real from fake news.
The other thing I love about AP is that’s staff is a kind of cult. When you join AP you know 4 things for sure: You are unlikely to get rich or famous, you are certain to do real reporting about real stories.
That’s how it was when I got into the business. You weren’t taking a vow of poverty or – God knows- seeking anonymity, but your primary motivations were getting to witness significant things and serve the public by reporting on them.
Ego always had a lot to do with it, but the validation for journalists’ egos came from the respect of your peers and the demonstrable benefits your revelations or explanations brought to your customers, Human readers, listeners, and viewers.
It was a similar moral universe Elizabeth Rosenthal thought she was joining when she started medical school to become a doctor. She expected make a good living, but by providing a vital life-saving service to her patients. She expected her validation to come from the recognition of and respect for her work by her fellow physicians, and appreciation from those humans whose lives she had protected and made better.
When she found that health care in contemporary America, had, like too much of TV news, been re-calibrated for those who sought validation through celebrity, money and power, she switched from practicing medicine to covering it, for years for the New York Times, now as the editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News. She recently published a powerful book: An American Sickness: How Healthcare became Big Business and How You Can Take it Back, which has made the best-seller lists of both Amazon and the NY Times.
As the lengthy title makes clear, Elizabeth Rosenthal is still an old-fashioned reporter who insists her revelations and analysis of them are in the public service.
Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal was for twenty-two years a reporter, correspondent, and senior writer at The New York Times before becoming the editor in chief of Kaiser Health News, an independent journalism newsroom focusing on health and health policy. She holds an MD from Harvard Medical School, trained in internal medicine, and has worked as an ER physician. She lives in New York City and Washington, DC. Her new book is An American Sickness: How Healthcare became Big Business and How You Can Take it Back.