Pssst…Lee Newspapers, Your Bias is Showing

Not that any of you will be surprised, but Lee Newspapers has given us another example of world class reporting, this time on the Affordable Care Act.

Lee featured an article this weekend on the impacts of junk plan cancellations that don’t meet the consumer protection standards of the Affordable Care Act.  Lee Newspapers state bureau reporter Mike Dennison wrote a 43 paragraph article in which a small group of people express outrage about the Affordable Care Act.   Thirty-nine of the 43 paragraphs are a chronicle of woes from people who have their insurance plans cancelled, in which they explain (and speculate) about how they may have to spend more money.  To be sure, buried at the very end of the story is a lone example of one person who will be better off with a new plan.

Problem is, a separate report in the very same paper explains that the change actually doesn’t impact most insurance plans.  That story, entitled “Probably not that many Montanans with canceled policies to pay more,” is buried in the back of the paper and appears under the byline “IR State Bureau.”

If most people aren’t impacted by the change, as the IR quietly reports in the back of the paper, one would think that information should be the lead in the major story of the impacts of the ACA policy change.  Instead, the major story is a litany of quotes from person after person who say the change is harming them, implying that the change will mean bad things for most people–not more benefits for the same or less money or no impact at all.

Usually, I think Mike Dennison does a good job on health care reporting.  In this case, it’s not known whether editors made a decision to siphon off the story of how the change impacts most people into a separate piece or whether Dennison’s piece was printed as he intended.    Either way, this kind of thing is a disservice to Montanans who want accurate and unbiased news. 


10 Comments on "Pssst…Lee Newspapers, Your Bias is Showing"

  1. Thanks for exposing ’em again…I’m one of those with Junk and glad
    to be RID of it, and will have better and will pay the same or less! Where’s
    good journalism when we need it, not just catering to teabag whack jobs?

  2. There are a couple sayings that comes to mind here…..”a pot calling a kettle black” or “he who lives in a glass house should not throw stones”.

    • Hi Sam, thanks for your comment and welcome to the Cowgirl blog. It’s important to point out that this is a liberal political blog and has never pretended to be anything but. Lee Newspapers would like to be taken for an unbiased source of straight news.

  3. They just had a terrible headline on that one, both in print and online. It was misleading to say the least and was a lame ploy to grab attention. Headlines should inform us about what we’re going to read, not force us to sift through an article to decipher it.

  4. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | December 3, 2013 5:48 AM at 5:48 AM |



    I want whatever Max Fawkus is on! I mean, THAT must be some good shit, for Mini ain’t is feelin’ NO pain! The dude’s oblivious!

  5. Drunks for Bohlinger | December 3, 2013 9:50 AM at 9:50 AM |

    With the shrinking of its revenues and the size of its papers, it is little wonder that the IR and other Lee papers have become more conservative. Only old angry white people read print journalism anymore.

    Just read the comments section of the online IR. It is a regular Tea Party lovefest. You gotta pander to your customers.

  6. While Lee Enterprises keeps slashing jobs, remember its CEO Mary Junck — who has driven share prices during her tenure from nearly $50 to (today) $3.51 — continues to both keep her job and get annual half-million dollar bonuses from her well-tamed board of directors. As chief executive officer, she was paid $2,093,267 last year, up 82% from fiscal 2011
    Here’s a true story of one of many Lee outrages:

  7. I have been a subscriber to the Billings Gazoo (Lee’s Montana best publication for over 40 years. It used to be a good paper when the like of David Crisp was at the helm and with reporters like Roger Clawson and Pat Dawson. Today, they are more interested in selling cars, medical businesses, phoney pharmaceutical advertizing and publishing monthly magazines highlighting the pretty people in Billings. Most morning, the rag as we now refer to it, is late, has some news articles scattered about in the endless ads and lots of car ads. I can see why people are turning away from what once was one of the better newspapers in the state. Their online version is filled with ads and to read any article, you first must jump through the hoops of Google’s fishing expeditions. I believe that much of their writings and add copy is designed by a little shop in downtown Calcutta. Sorry, but I am one of those old angry white people that still has the ability to read and prefers a hard copy of the news rather than an online version that can change the context of story that faster than a you can read it. On top of everything else, I really don’t like them fucking with my comics!

  8. Mike Dennison seems to be the PR man spinning for Steve Daines. His whitewash piece after the shutdown had Daines visiting a homeless shelter for veterans — where Daines pointedly ignored the request to consider putting a home for vets in Bozeman (Bozeman doesn’t do homeless shelters — they point them to other towns). The IR left out any reference to the fact that Daines was one of the 80+ signers of the letter urging Boehner to shut down the government to defund the Affordable Care Act.

    He’s ignored Daines votes on the Farm bills, the violence against women, and other bills as well. It’s not responsible reporting to be so much at the beck and call of the GOP and have almost no reporting on the Democrats in office. No word whatsoever about the tax reform bills Baucus is working on and nothing about Tester at all.

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