Monday, October 1, 2007

Late-night news meeting, special cancer edition

After ranting several times lately about the Seattle Times' maudlin, over-the-top writing about Gloria, the poor little girl who recently died of brain cancer, I was chagrined to see today that my erstwhile paper, the Seattle P-I, was pimping its own cancer case on the front page.

Sadder still, for me (journalistically as well as personally), because I know the story's subject.

She is Jeanne Sather, a writer I hired for a temp gig while at the Times years ago and who returned the favor by helping hook me up with a part-time editing job at when I was freelancing and starting my own web busness. Shortly after I met Jeanne she discovered she had breast cancer, and she wrote an affecting and popular first-person series about it for OnHealth.

Since then, I believe much of her work has concerned her own health issues, including a blog, "The Assertive Cancer Patient: Living With Cancer -- and an Attitude." In a recent post, riffing on the Michael Moore movie "Sicko"'s affection for the Canadian health program, Jeanne "advertised" herself as available for marriage to a Canadian man who wanted a woman and would give her, in return, de facto free health care. Ho ho ho.

Now I don't begrudge anyone writing about their own health problems; I may want to do it myself someday. And Jeanne's offer -- sincere or not, I'm still not sure -- certainly made its point. Of course the idea was media-friendly as it could be. It just sounds like a story, and so naturally it was picked up by the TV news.

Still (sorry, Jeanne), I hated to see it show up today on the front page of the P-I. Maybe I'm a one-man crab on this issue, but to me these stories are manipulative, leering, derivative and almost always a cliche. I just don't like them. I hope Jeanne's health stabilizes and improves. And if she really wants a Canadian husband, and if that would help, I even want that for her. I'm just not sure I want to read about it on Page A-1 of the newspaper.

I'm more impressed, reporting-wise, by a P-I story posted tonight, a folo on the lady-stuck-eight-days-in-a-ditch story. Her husband's been dissing the sheriff's office for not finding her wrecked car sooner, but it turns out now, the P-I tells us, that investigators were thrown off by bad information provided by ... the husband.


In other news news, Michelle gave her presentation tonight and hosted the panel discussion. I wasn't there and she's always humble about such things, but I can tell from careful cross-examination and clue-culling that she rocked the house -- surprising absolutely no one, I'm sure.

I've very proud of her.

1 comment:

Rita said...

I'm very proud of her too!

Time to get my lawn sign back out -