Hospice is too good for the Detroit Free PressBy
About that Medicare series in the Free Press. No, the Detroit Free Press. The internet pamphlet that’s a shell of its former self? And twice the price in “newspaper” form? Ok, you know which one we mean now? Good.
Apparently the Free Press published these Medicare stories on orders at the suggestion of an advertiser. An advertiser that bought space directly opposite the stories they suggested. And, just to make it even more awful and unethical, the advertiser is Humana. A health insurance company that might, you know, have some vested interest in Medicare policy and how it’s covered.
Paul Anger explains that this is totally kosher because while newspapers should “cover the news in an unvarnished way,” newspapers should “facilitate commerce.” Really. That’s what he actually said. A modern-day Ida Tarbell, that one.
But honestly, are we at all surprised? This is a paper that has long devoted premium editorial space (and compromised basic journalistic ethics) to facilitate Mitch Albom’s dull commerce. This is the paper with a business columnist who regularly pens love letters to Dan Gilbert. Did you know that Quicken Loans totally never once originated anything except plain vanilla mortgages? SmartARMs for all! IT’S TIME TO LIVE!
Is it any wonder that respectable journalists like Bill McGraw fled this sinking ship? If your profession has been reduced to corporate shilling then why not get a job in an actual corporate communications department with a real salary and what not. Public relations is basically honest work, unlike playing at journalism for the amusement of Humana and company.
If we brought Sinclair Lewis back to life in this time and place, there wouldn’t be anything for him to write about. Detroit has managed to create a non-fiction reality more bizarre than Lewis’ Nobel Prize-worthy satirical fiction. Newspapers facilitate commerce. Christ. Even Chum Fink wasn’t this feckless.
Which leads us to this serious question for our readers. Should Dyspathy cease treating the Free Press as an institution producing legitimate journalism? It’s one thing to link to Mitch Albom or Rochelle Riley’s awful columns for the narrow purpose of making fun of dreck but do you trust anything the Free Press reports as “news”?
Dyspathy exists to comment on news and, because I have some degree of integrity, I always link to traditional news reports from media outlets. Not unlike citing a source in academic research. The Detroit News, Crains, Metro Times, MLive, Lansing State Journal, news radio stations, etc are more than capable of offering journalism (of various degrees of quality) without first asking an advertiser for permission. Is the Free Press still worthy of being treated like a serious news organizations? (WSJ, Poynter, Gawker)