A big and special thanks goes out to Marshall Allen for coming to Ohio University today to tell us a little bit about his work as an investigative journalist for the non-profit organization Pro Publica.
Marshall mostly spoke to us about his story titled, “Do No Harm.” This story was about his investigation into the health care system in Las Vegas. When Marshall first arrived in Los Vegas the big joke he always heard was, “Where do you go for health care in Los Vegas?” The punchline to this joke was that you go to the airport. This joke was obviously not intended to be funny after hearing some of the gruesome stories that Marshall investigated. In one of the stories that he told us, a patient was sent home naked from the hospital with nothing but a blanket to cover her up.
Some of the patients that have gone to these hospital have even died because of errors that the doctors made that could have been easily prevented. For example, one patient caught on fire when she was in the operating room. This was due to a flammable liquid that was put on her in order to sterilize the part of her body that was being operated on. The doctors didn’t allow for the liquid to dry properly and a spark from the operating knife ignited the liquid. The patient died soon after. So, what was the punishment for this mistake? A measly bill of $400. No one was fired. No one was even suspended. Yeah, the airport joke isn’t so funny now is it?
Along with these horrible stories, Marshall also gave us a few good tips. He told us that it is always good to have different forms of media in your story. During his three-year investigation into the hospital system Marshall received many calls from disgruntled patients that wanted to share their story about their hospital visit. Overwhelmed by the amount of calls, Marshall thought that instead of writing an article about each call, it would be better to simply record all of the calls and place them on the internet. “I am more of a writer. You try to use your language to actually convey the emotion of what people go through. But, you can’t do that in the same way that you can when you hear the audio of people who have actually suffered this type of harm in their lives.” Other examples of Marshall using multi media in his work include making videos to go along with articles and using interactive graphs in order to present your data in an effective way.
As a result of Marshalls investigative reporting he has been able to shed light on the problems with the health care system in Los Vegas. Had he not done the investigation, who knows how long it would have taken for people to realize the problem with health care in Los Vegas. It is crucial that all journalists learn to be investigative. Investigative reporting is a public service and is something that is expected of the media.
We want to use the moral force of investigative reporting to bring about change.
For those of you that were not able to make it to this event, DO NOT PANIC. There will be plenty of other great speakers through the year. Stay on board with RTDNA and get a head start on your path to becoming the greatest journalist ever!!!
Please feel free to contact Marshall Allen at:
For more information on Pro Publica please visit http://www.propublica.org