Friday, July 16, 2010
Amy Dockser Marcus - an unusual journalist
My original intention of writing this blog is as stated in my profile. I want to write about particulars - the nitty gritty - that might benefit other Patient Advocates (or patients) who are dealing with CFS/ME. I hope to get back to this soon. In the meantime, events in the real world of CFS/ME research have overtaken my Patient Advocate world, and I feel compelled to write about them. I see these recent movements as being key to a clarification of this illness and of how it has been treated - really mistreated - for the last 25 years.
Late in the day on July 15, 2010 a blog was released by the WSJ about the webinar yesterday on XMRV. It was written by Amy Dockser Marcus.
For those who follow the discussion closely, yesterday's webinar itself was not very illuminating. (Vincent Racaniello was dead wrong implying that treatment possibilities could take 15 years - and he did a great disservice to throw that figure out there. Is he an idiot?)
The fact that an article was written about the webinar was remarkable. Someone is following this situation closely. Very little is written in the mainstream press about CFS/ME. The occasional stories are characterized by having 15-25% factual accuracy. Instead these articles, written by "unformed" brains, spread a great many falsehoods, often discounting the benefit that the article might bring. Most reporters do not understand the nature of CFS/ME, nor do they have the capacity to "care". So they write shit.
This gal Amy Dockser Marcus is different. Like many WSJ journalists, she can write. As a reader of newspapers (As Baby Doll said, "I am a magazine reader"), I know that the trade of journalistic writing has deteriorated rapidly and that serious practitioners are difficult to find. This particular person - Amy Dockser Marcus - has written a number of times about CFS/ME. Her articles on CFS/Me can be found here and here and here
All of the articles shape the subject in a serious and measured fashion, with a high degree of articulateness. They are written in a fashion that allows for "follow-up" stories as the drama unfolds - and in fact these follow-ups seem to be arriving regularly.
Some of us already know where this story is going.
Please pay particular note to the "comments" on these articles and blogs. Serious writing evokes serious responses. It is worth noting that CFS/ME patients and their advocates are extremely knowledgeable and forthright in their articulations and criticisms of journalistic reporting. There is much to be learned from this patient population and their ability to frame out the problem - and Amy Dockser Marcus does not seem above learning from them. She is open to suggestion. One wonders why?
Today I decided to find out more about this person. Who is this gal who has written more than once about CFS/ME? Is she for real?
What I found in Google was remarkable. Amy Dockser Marcus, a reporter at The Wall Street Journal, was awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting for her coverage of the physical, monetary and emotional costs of cancer. The list of her articles that lead to this award can be found here.
At this point her background gets even more interesting. Amy Dockser Marcus has written two books. The first one, published in 1997, is The View from Nebo: How Archeology Is Rewriting the Bible and Reshaping the Middle East. The second, Jerusalem 1913 - Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, which I immediately purchased, is here. A compelling interview with the author, here, tells you all that you need to know about the journalistic impulses of this woman. Read it.
Politics aside, the subjects of her books matches her interest in CFS/ME (and other unknown illnesses). In both cases you have situations where people's decisions, calculated or not, have profound implications on future events, and suddenly the subject becomes complex and difficult from all sides. It takes a bit of research to try to figure out what has happened, how things have gotten to this state and how one might get out of the problem. CFS/ME is a perfect conundrum for Amy Dockser Marcus -and the best thing about it is that there now is a "way out" of this illness. Amy Dockser Marcus is well poised to help in this regard and win herself another Pulitzer.
Amy Dockser Marcus has latched onto CFS/ME. This does not seem to be random. This reporter has the complexity and clarity to follow up on the story and report the main points with accuracy and compassion. CFS/ME is sorely in need of such journalistic objectivity. By nature, Amy is attracted to complex issues requiring both emphathy and detachment, two qualities needed to get at the heart of complex issues. These few articles in the WSJ have done more to advance the cause of CFS/ME patients than any other journalistic writing that I have seen, excepting of course those of Hillary Johnson, another remarkable gal.