Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Did NY Times standards editor Greg Brock & public editor Liz Spayd violate Integrity Guidelines? I've asked the paper's attorney who handles employee concerns

source

On January 31, the Washington Post ran Media outlets choke on Heimlich obituaries by Erik Wemple about my string of successful requests for published corrections for errors in obituaries about my father.

He suggested that the corrections/amendments I got "from some of the biggest names in the news business, over a single news topic" may be a record.

Needless to say, journalists can be reluctant to publish corrections, therefore I was impressed by the professionalism and courtesy I experienced at most of those news outlets.

Then there's the New York Times.

Robert D. McFadden's December 17, 2016 Times obituary about my father included some factual errors along with what I considered to be some reportorial errors.

source

In response to polite, thoroughly-documented inquiries and my patient follow-ups that dragged on for weeks, I got the bum's rush, first from standards editor Greg Brock and then from public editor Liz Spayd, both of whom refused to discuss any of the facts. They both just told me to take a hike.

So I hiked over to Mr. Wemple at the Post.

After he followed up on my behalf, Mr. Brock was shamed into doing his job -- at least part of it.

That is, the Times published one correction, but failed to address another factual error as well as some reportorial concerns I brought to their attention.

According to the paper’s Guidelines on Integrity
Reporters, editors, photographers and all members of the news staff of The New York Times share a common and essential interest in protecting the integrity of the newspaper. As the news, editorial and business leadership of the newspaper declared jointly in 1998: "Our greatest strength is the authority and reputation of The Times. We must do nothing that would undermine or dilute it and everything possible to enhance it."

...(It) means that the journalism we practice daily must be beyond reproach.

Corrections. Because our voice is loud and far-reaching, The Times recognizes an ethical responsibility to correct all its factual errors, large and small. The paper regrets every error, but it applauds the integrity of a writer who volunteers a correction of his or her own published story. Whatever the origin, though, any complaint should be relayed to a responsible supervising editor and investigated quickly. If a correction is warranted, fairness demands that it be published immediately. In case of reasonable doubt or disagreement about the facts, we can acknowledge that a statement was "imprecise" or "incomplete" even if we are not sure it was wrong
Re: the processing of my corrections request, I wanted to learn if Mr. Brock, Ms. Spayd, or others had violated those or other employee guidelines, so today I sent this inquiry to Marcijane Kraft, an attorney at the paper who handles concerns about employees.

After I receive her response, I'll report it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Complaint re: two Greensboro, NC, apparel companies filed with state Attorney General by London executive



London-based business executive Demi Bender is the daughter of my friend, the formidable medical journalist Marika Sborbos.

Today Demi sent a consumer complaint to the Attorney General of North Carolina about a couple of Greensboro apparel companies.


According to her letter, she ordered merchandise from one of them -- Lotus Leggings -- never got the goods, and the company has ignored her follow-up inquiries.


She also learned that there's apparently a sister company at the same address -- a mailbox at a US Postal station -- called Lulu Tops.

Based on the links to consumer review websites in her letter, both companies appear to have, um, fallen short when it comes to customer satisfaction.

For example, here's a YouTube video posted a year ago called Lulu Tops Took My Money (which includes some lively posted comments).



The Sidebar prides itself as a platform for fashionista consumer advocacy, so I invited Demi to post her complaint here.

I've redacted her e-mail address, but you may send her a tweet here.


Friday, February 3, 2017

For decades PETA president Ingrid Newkirk has campaigned against using animals in medical research, but says she probably owes her life to my father's namesake maneuver -- which was developed using dogs as research models

PETA president and cofounder Ingrid Newkirk and a four-legged friend (source)

Ingrid Newkirk is the well-known president and cofounder of People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) which for decades has campaigned against the use of animals in medical research.

Ironically, she says she probably owes her life to medical research in which dogs were used as experimental subjects.

As widely reported, my father died on December 16. A few days ago Ms. Newkirk posted this remembrance on an online web page commemorating my father's life:


Via her introduction to my father's essay in One Can Make A Difference:
I am including Dr. Heimlich as an essayist because I not only admire him and have enjoyed knowing hint personally - he is full of good jokes and clever thoughts and is staunchly opposed to animal experiments - but because he has saved countless people's lives. In fact, while the Heimlich maneuver has saved the lives of celebrities such as Cher, Goldie Hawn, and even former president Ronald Reagan, it also probably saved mine.
One morning I was, as usual, doing too many things at once, dashing about in the office, eating a breakfast sandwich, and putting paper in the copier, when I choked. It was early and only the man who vacuums our carpets was in the building, somewhere downstairs. I suddenly realized how difficult it would be, even if I could find hint quickly, to get him to understand that my airway was blocked, that I couldn't breathe. Drawing on what I remembered of Dr. Heimlich's advice, I thrust myself forward, with force, over a chair. That action dislodged the bit of sandwich and I could breathe again.
Via Pop Goes the Cafe Coronary, my father's first article describing what he then called "the Heimlich method," published in the June 1974 issue of the journal Emergency Medicine (EM):
The procedure is adapted from experimental work with four 38-pound beagles, in which I was assisted by surgical research technician Michael H. McNeal. After being given an intravenous anesthetic, each dog was "strangled" with a size 32 cuffed endotracheal tube inserted into the larynx. After the cuff was distended to create total obstruction of the trachea, the animal went into immediate respiratory distress as evidenced by spasmodic, paradoxical respiratory movements of the chest and diaphragm. At this point, with a sudden thrust. I pressed the palm of my hand deeply and firmly into the abdomen of the animal a short distance below the rib cage, thereby pushing upward on the diaphragm. The endotracheal tube popped out of the trachea and, after several labored respirations, the animal began to breathe normally. This procedure was even more effective when the other hand maintained constant pressure on the lower abdomen directing almost all the pressure toward the diaphragm.

We repeated the experiment more than 20 times on each animal with the same excellent results When a bolus of raw hamburger was substituted for the endotracheal tube, it, too, was ejected by the same procedure, always after one or two compressions.

...Should you use, or learn of anyone, using, the Heimlich method, by the way, please report the results either to EM or to me.
Does Ms. Newkirk owe her life to those four "strangled" beagles? Obviously, that's impossible to determine, but it's certainly a brain teaser.

Here's another puzzler to ponder.

If my father and Mr. McNeal had never conducted the research using the beagles, his namesake maneuver might never have come to be.

As a determined advocate against the use of animals in research, would Ms. Newkirk have preferred that they not have conducted research that may have saved her life and which -- according to Erik Wemple's January 31, 2017 Washington Post article about my recent success obtaining published corrections to errors in a number of my father's obituaries -- has been "credited with saving thousands of people from choking to death..."?

I'm e-mailing that question to Ms. Newkirk with an invitation to provide any additional comment.

Note: I have zero expertise regarding the use of animals in medical research, so I have no positions or opinions on the subject.