From the assistant editor

Respect for potential medical experiences

Wed, 07/10/2024 - 8:45am

What if one of our towns’ leaders, hired or elected, was rumored to and/or appeared to possibly have a medical issue that, if true, might impact their service?

A number of factors make this scenario apples to oranges to the one President Biden’s recent debate performance has spurred. For one, a local leader is not potentially making decisions that can impact whole nations. So the stakes are far lower. Nonetheless, that person’s work impacts taxpayers and all that town’s residents, on a daily basis.

So here is a “what if” scenario, worth a look after seeing some of the depths a few members of the national media have lowered themselves and their news outlets to in the presidential matter.

If I noticed or heard about a possible medical issue with a local leader, my first thought would be, that’s their business, and no one else’s, unless they choose to make it so. If they wanted to divulge a medical condition to help others who may be facing it, or to allay or acknowledge residents’ concerns, I would likely be onboard, because that’s their call. Again, I get the presidential matter is different, and should be, but even then there should still be an underlying respect in asking the questions and in publishing or airing theories and observations from experts who have never met the president. And that underlying respect is just as important in local news as it is for anything bigger.

After hearing the tip, rumor, or however I learned of whatever the medical matter might be, I would discuss it with our editor Kevin Burnham and we would work out how to proceed, including whether to pursue it at all and, if so, how. If we saw fit, the move would probably be to ask that official if he or she is comfortable publicly discussing it. If they confirm and describe a medical matter, Kevin and I would confer on whether whatever it was turned out to be news or not and, if not, should we run something anyway, because the person invited us to, to set the record straight and/or to help others, as stated earlier.

We would not ask the person’s spokesman, in a daytime press conference, if said person “is awake.” And we would hope to do like another reporter did in a White House press conference last week, who told the first one, that question was inappropriate.

Please stay healthy, local leaders. And if you ever do run into a medical issue, you and our readers can and should expect us to be respectful in the coverage, if any. 

Week’s positive parting thought: This summer’s fun events are all over our pages and online again this week: Highlights from the past week and announcements of ones just ahead. Enjoy the ones you can get to and, wherever you are, stay hydrated!