Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Tough Story

This week I have been working on a pretty touchy story. 8 doctors in Helena, have left family practice and gone to work for other organizations. 5 have left St. Peters Hospital, and a few others have moved out the V.A. Hospital. I was trying to get to the bottom of why doctors were leaving. I had a hunch, from what I had been hearing in the community, that doctors weren't being treated well at the Hospital, but nothing to substantiate that. I called several doctors, I got responses varying in degree from, "I have opinions on this, but I am not willing to comment" to "I would comment but I think it might jeopardize my career." I finally got ahold of a doctor who left St. Peters a while ago and started her own private practice. She did an on camera interview, exposing a lot of what I heard as rumor to be true.

I then called the Hospital to see if they wanted to comment. I interviewed the PIO and it went pretty well, the questions were answered for the most part, some questions were ducked, but all in all I was happy with the interviews I got. Later they called and asked me to leave out part of the interview. I told them legally I had a right to air it, but the station wanted to maintain a working relationship with the clinic and so we would hold it. The information wasn't specifically necessary to this piece, and I made a judgement call to not use it.

I put the package together, knowing it was going to stir some controversy. My ND was excited about the story and proofed my script. I was really nervous about running this, because one I wanted to represent both sides to the story fairly and accurately and two I also didn't want to burn any bridges for the station with the Hospital and three the doctor was very brave in coming forward with the information.

Before I aired the piece I called the doctor who was willing to talk and read her my script. She said that really put her at ease, because she was nervous about what the Hospital would do to her for coming public with the information, she was also leary about being misquoted.

This story has really been a learning experience for me.

I was told by an owner of aradio station in Butte, Ron Davis, "Always ask yourself if you can live in the community you live in after you air the story." Wanting to stay in Montana and work in Helena, this was a story in which I asked myself that every line I wrote.

Check it out. The broll is really dry but the content is strong.

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