A simple question
The newspapers' missed news
By David Baker
Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2016
A story in Sunday’s Albany (N.Y.) Times Union lists the many players reportedly under scrutiny by the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharaha in what appears to be an investigation of possibly improper lobbying by individuals and companies that have made large contributions to Gov. Cuomo’s campaign accounts.
It’s a complicated and confusing picture, which may become clear only if criminal proceedings are brought against one or more people.
But the case against the Times Union - as well as the area’s other two daily newspapers, the Record and the Gazette - is much easier to understand.
For more than a decade, all three papers have ignored dozens of lawsuits filed against capital region medical providers alleging preventable deaths and serious injuries.
At the same time, these newspapers have benefited from a continuous advertising campaign that has brought hundreds of thousands of dollars each year into their coffers.
So, are all these lawsuits being ignored because they would subtract from the rosy image the advertisers are paying to present to the public?
In other words, are the management of these newspapers corrupt?
The answer to that question - which essentially is, are these advertisers buying not just ad space but also control of the news pages - depends on the answer to another question:
Are none of the many lawsuits described on my web page newsworthy?
* A now now-settled case in which a woman with a history of heart problems died just after she was sent home from an emergency room following a very brief exam - and the doctor who did it later lost his license in part because of his negligence that day.
* A lawsuit - settled on the first day of trial after six years of litigation - that made the unusual claim that a hospital was negligent when it repeatedly granted privileges to a physician with a history of disciplinary problems with other employers, and two other active lawsuits against him alleging negligence.
* An admission by two nurses in transcripts of sworn deposition testimony that they told a patient’s family that he had a bedsore when in fact he had received a serious burn on his back when a cooling pad filled with very hot water was placed under him - itself a violation of the hospital’s protocol.
* A claim that hospital managers retaliated against an emergency room employee after she complained that a co-worker was sexually harassing her - harassment that allegedly included him showing her a video of him having sex with another woman.
These lawsuits are among dozens described in stories posted since 2008 on my blog.
But not one of them has been reported by the area’s newspapers.
So if you believe that none of them are of public interest, then you can conclude that there is no connection between the cash pouring into the newspapers’ bank accounts and the absence of news about all these lawsuits.
But if you think that details of at least some of these claims should be published by the area’s newspapers, then you can conclude that these managers are just as easily bought as the public officials they lecture to about the need to address the corrupting influence of money.