Ithaca Media Notes: A Death In The Waiting Room

Several weeks ago I received a call from Anne Marshall (of recent note as the arrowhead of the effort to unionize Cayuga Medical Center’s nursing staff) with a huge tip: someone in the waiting room had died, understaffing was to blame and a nurse was fired over it.

Knowing a legacy there and taking into account the likelihood it was true, if not totally accurate, I asked for more sources. I asked for current nurses. I asked for the nurse involved. I filed FOIL requests. I hoped, upon the fulfillment of my requests, I would have a strong enough line of questioning with enough background to reach out to hospital staff for their comment and, potentially, a coveted on-record interview.

Yesterday, Josh Brokaw, the voice behind the Truthsayers Blog and a former Ithaca Times reporter, published the nurse’s narrative, saying in the week previous he had told the hospital that he would be going public, with or without their comment. He confirmed a state investigation would be taking place into the death at the hospital – a major scoop on his part. He spoke to the same people. Most notably, he broke some news, which was extremely important and you all should read right now. (And seriously, give him some money.)

In my eyes what it lacked, and why I’m bitching on my personal blog right now, was context.

When the news moves this fast, my process now speeds up. The pressure is on for me to get my documents expedited (which, once received, will be posted in as many places as possible) and for me to publish a story. I may even have to settle for less than what I originally set out for. The news might have been broken and this important story was told, but the real question is what did it reveal?

Was this a chronicle of systemic disfunction at the hospital? Or was this an anecdote that left us wanting? Either way, this is the way information is spread now – instantly – and you can expect a different look from the Ithaca Times in the coming weeks.

And in the meantime, give some well-deserved props to Mr. Brokaw.

Published by iamnickreynolds

Accidental journalist. Pushup Enthusiast. I have a .267 career batting average in World Series elimination games.

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