Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Corruption of Journalism: Facts Mean Nothing to the Orlando Sentinel

And the media wonder why they are so distrusted: The Orlando Sentinel continually describes Terri Schiavo's medical condition as "brain dead." This is clearly wrong. Brain dead is a popular term for death by neurological criteria and it means that the whole brain and every constituent part has ceased to function as a brain. Thus, there are no reflexes, the body can't breathe without support, etc.

Terri Schiavo was clearly not brain dead. She breathed on her own. She swallowed her own saliva. She had sleep and wake cycles, she moved her body--none of which can be done by a brain dead body.

But the Orlando Sentinel doesn't care. When Bobby Schindler complained that their description of his sister was factually inaccurate, they told him to go eat a fig. Here is their representative's letter to Schindler:

I reviewed your complaint with our state editor, Bob Shaw. We've considered the arguments you made in our phone conversation, but we've consistently used the term "brain-dead" in connection with the Terry Schiavo case, and we see it as a valid brief description. I appreciate your calling us about it and letting us know your point of view.

Best regards,

Dana Eagles

Orlando Sentinel
In other words: We've been wrong and we aren't going to change now.

More to the point, Bobby wasn't expressing a "point of view." He was describing a fact about his sister's medical condition. Any neurologist, any doctor, heck, any bioethicist could tell Messrs Shaw and Eagles that. But they just don't care. The paper has loathed the Schindlers throughout the case and that has been reflected in its reportage. And now we have proof that even accurate reporting will be sacrificed to further their advocacy agenda.



At June 13, 2008 , Blogger John Jansen said...

In the letter, they also misspelled Terri's name.

A common enough mistake, to be sure, but if the Sentinel is trying to making a case for accuracy, that doesn't exactly help them.


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