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The fine line between advocacy and objectivity

The fine line between advocacy and objectivity

Picture of William Scanlon

About halfway through my October trip to Grand Junction, Colorado to see if the community's unusual health-care model could or should be replicated, I got so enthused about the possibilities that I had to keep close tabs on my objectivity.

I settled for a package that presents the Grand Junction model as an intriguing possibility, while including skeptics and naysayers.

During my two-day stay in Grand Junction, I interviewed two doctors, an insurance executive, a clinic director and a medical director at a hospice. Back home, I interviewed a couple of patients and a hospital CEO.

Then, I began to write. My editor, Ann Imse, forced me to be more precise, to be more critical and to examine all sides. My guess is that she asked me for something like 120 extra pieces of information or interviews - all of which made the series better.

I talked to national experts, local opponents and proponents, politicians. I called up and linked to dozens of studies. The talks given by the speakers at the Reporting on Health symposium put on by the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships helped immeasurably. They taught me how to sharpen my focus while keeping an eye on the end result.

Dr. Michael Pramenko, who is extensively quoted in the series and whose enthusiasm tends to be contagious, is the newly elected president of the Colorado Medical Society. He has information about which communities around the West and the nation are trying to replicate this co-operative health care model.

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