The University Record, September 10, 1997


Article on M-CARE initiative 'not objective . . . misleading'

This letter is written to convey SACUA's [Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs] reaction to an article in the July 30, 1997, Record which purported to inform the University community of the M-CARE preference initiative, including a request of input to the Regents. While we appreciate the Record's ability to present this issue to the University community under such tight time constraints, our reaction was that the article was not completely objective and on some important points it was misleading. Of particular concern to us was that, since the article was not objective, there should have been some attribution to the author so readers would know whose point of view was being presented.

For instance, in the headline the proposed changes were identified as "Free M-CARE coverage." This was only half the story and downplayed the increased costs on the other side. Also, the article warned there "may" be an increased cost for the other coverage options, yet at the time the article was written it was known there definitely would be increased costs. Finally, the article pointed out when faculty and staff use the University Hospital system "they support the University in a tangible way by keeping their health care dollars inside the University community." Whether this is true or not, it does not seem to be objective reporting, particularly since none of the equally compelling reasons against M-CARE preference were presented in the article.

We are of the belief that if an article in the Record presents a particular point of view, especially on a potentially controversial topic, then the viewpoint should be attributed to the person or group pressing that point. The July 30 article appeared as though it presented the consensus point of view of the University as a whole, but we do not believe that it did. Hundreds of faculty and staff did respond to the request for input to the Regents, with at least twice as many negative responses to those in favor of M-CARE preference. Assuming the response rate would have been even greater had this issue not arisen in mid-summer, it seems clear to me this issue is of great importance to your readership. Certainly, the topic of M-CARE preference deserves objective and professional reporting of the issues.

We believe the Record should separate and identify objective reporting from articles which represent the point of view of a group on campus, much as you do with the Faculty Perspectives page. If an article represents the administration, it should be identified as such so your readers will know when they are reading objective reporting and when they are reading the administration point of view. Otherwise your readership will begin to believe the Record is nothing more than an organ of the administration.

I appreciate the Record's fine contribution to the University, as well as your consideration of these comments.

Louis G. D'Alecy, chair

Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs


Editor's Note: The article cited in Prof. D'Alecy's letter was prepared by staff in the Office of University Relations based on information provided by the Benefits Office.

The Record frequently accepts articles from University units on matters of interest to the community. Our standard practice is to give a byline to the article's source. Inadvertently, in this instance, this was not done and we regret the omission. We agree that it is important for readers to know the source of information so they can evaluate its content. It is also important that when statements of opinion are made, those be credited to the individuals making the statements.

Just a reminder: Our Letters column and the monthly Faculty Perspectives page provide avenues for members of the campus community to present differing viewpoints. We encourage our readers to take advantage of these opportunities.