Why did Ceci Connolly leave out key context? She won't say.

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

During today's online discussion, a reader asked Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly why she omitted important context in her reporting on the AMA:

New York, N.Y.: Ceci, in your article last week you described the AMA as being "the nation's largest physician group," but for some reason you didn't note that that of the 800,000 doctors in America, just 1/3 are AMA members, nor did you mention that the AMA gets at least 20 percent of its budget from drug companies. And those same drug companies are in the midst of a multimillion dollar advocacy campaign against many progressive health reform ideas. Why did you and your editors choose to leave out this extremely crucial context?

washingtonpost.com: In Pitch to AMA, Obama Paints Mixed Picture

Ceci Connolly: I don't think the two points are mutually exclusive. The AMA is the largest doctors' group, but it obviously does not represent every physician. That's the tricky part with any trade group.

Connolly's response misses the point entirely. Yes, the tricky part in writing about trade groups is that they can be large but not fully representative. And Connolly failed to make that clear in the article in question. Reading the article, you would have no idea that AMA represents a small fraction of doctors. In fact, you would likely get the opposite impression. Nor did Connolly indicate, as the reader pointed out, that AMA gets significant funding from drug companies.

Connolly's explanation -- "that's the tricky part" -- isn't an explanation; it is a reminder that her article was flawed. Which isn't really in question; the question is why, and whether she'll do better next time.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
The Washington Post
Ceci Connolly
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