Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Journalistic probings of the debt and heath care messes

Pulitzer Prize jurors will meet next week to mull over the best of this year's journalistic offerings, and one series getting notice is the Boston Globe's in-depth Debtor's Hell investigation. I've been reading through the pieces during my downtime; there's a lot of material, and it's excellent. The Globe documents both the skyrocketing growth of the problem -- between 2000 and 2005, the number of debt-collection lawsuits filed in Mass. averaged out to one for every five households -- and the catastrophic flaws of an overwhelmed regulatory system that lacks the resources and manpower to keep abuses in check.

I love rigorous work like this that shows off journalism at its best. When regulators, politicians, and the courts fail to protect citizens from predatory practices and ensure just outcomes, we need media attention to focus a spotlight on the problem. Accountability begins with awareness.

In the spirit of spotlighting, I also wanted to point attention to a fantastic piece from last spring in the New York Review of Books: "The Health Care Crisis and What to Do About It". Ostensibly a critical look at several recent books on the U.S. health-care system, the article is really a rigorous examination of what's going wrong, why, and what issues reform measures will need to address.

And if anyone needs another example of why the heath care status quo is not acceptable, just take a look at today's Washington Post: "For Want of a Dentist". The unwritten rest of that headline is "... a ten-year-old boy died from a toothache."