The Source - December 16, 2013
10:34 pm
Sun December 15, 2013

The Source: Evolving Opinions On End Of Life In America | Informing The News

In the first segment: 

A recent poll from the Pew research center focused on the how Americans think about end-of-life medical treatments. Should doctors always try and keep patients alive? Or should people be allowed to die in certain circumstances? 

The poll has been conducted multiple times in the past 20 years, and a modest growth among the  percentage of people who believe patients should be kept alive at all costs had media outlets from the Los Angeles Times to Reuters taking note. Ashley Carson-Cottingham, of Compassion and Choices, an end of life advocacy group, argues in a subsequent editorial for The Huffington Post that the media got it wrong, and that more people are supportive of the choices of the terminally ill than is given credit in these reports. 

We'll talk with Carson-Cottingham about end of life issues and the public.  Joining her is Jason Morrow, palliative care specialist and medical ethicist from the University of Texas Health Science Center.  

In the second segment :

The news industry is falling short when in comes to policy issues and other complex stories, argues Thomas Patterson, the Bradlee Professor of Government & the Press at Harvard University, in his new book "Informing the News: The Need For Knowledge-Based Journalism."  

The complexities of the modern issue story require journalists to be more open to learning and investigating to get information. Oftentimes the press bends over backwards to provide equal weight to biased opinions that may not reflect the reality of an issue.  NPR changed its ethics code last year to deal with this very issue. Even further journalists need to be given the time to learn and become experts in their field, so that when a spurious claim is made journalists will have the right question to challenge an assumption.  It may sound a lot like "Journalism 101," but the complexity of current events and the thinning of newsroom staffs has led to a dwindling of expertise.  The very fabric of democracy is at risk when a public fails to be informed, argues Patterson.

We talk with Thomas Patterson about his book and take your questions.

Related Program