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Wendell Potter at TLS: “It’s the System”

03/07/2011

On Thursday I had the pleasure and honor of moderating The Luncheon Society’s Los Angeles gathering welcoming Wendell Potter.  The table comprised highly educated, politically active professionals, and yet, even some of them were surprised at the communication strategy documents that the health insurance lobby produced for its most inner circle.  Logically, it makes sense, especially given the 100 years that legislators have tried to pass legislation improving Americans’ access to health-care. Emotionally, it feels like a betrayal.

From a communicator’s point-of-view, the information was not surprising. We are the ones that work with clients to ensure that their messages resonate with their audiences.  Most of us do that with integrity and steer our clients ‘back on the highway’ when they veer off.  I hold Wendell in the utmost esteem for leaving a situation where his integrity, by his own definition, was compromised.

Our lunch conversation veered to discussing the state of investigative journalism – or the lack of investigative journalism. “The Fourth Estate” used to report when people, companies, organizations, etc. were taking everyone for a ride, to keep with the metaphor.  That is generally no longer the case, so it’s up to the public to draw their own conclusions and gather their own facts through very decentralized news sources primarily via the internet.

So, here is a big tip for all you fact checkers  – According to The Pew Center, 80% of the links on social media sites and blogs are to U.S. legacy media … so if you question something you read on-line, try tracing it back to its original source.  A statistic originating from research by a NY Times reporter or the Prince of Nigeria might influence its credibility.

To Buy Wendell’s Book:  [click here]

For More Information:

The Pew Center: State of the News Media 2010 (report)

Wendell Potter Blog

Time Magazine: The Making of a Health-Care Whistle-Blower (Sept. 8, 2009)

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