Mormon Muckraker, Patient Safety, World NewsThe Morning Show
- Oct 9, 2014
A MORMON MUCKRAKER’S LEGACY: JACK ANDERSON “A crusader in the mold of muckrakers from a century ago, unbound by contemporary notions of objectivity,” said the Washington Post obituary of Pulitzer Prize winner (and Mormon) Jack Anderson at his death in 2005. Jack Anderson was the most widely-read columnist in America during the 1960s and 70s. His reporting included scoops on some of the hottest political scandals of his time: Iran-Contra, the CIA-Mafia plot to till Fidel Castro and even the final days of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes. Anderson so angered powerful people that he sat atop President Richard Nixon’s enemies list and the CIA was ordered to spy on him. “That was a badge of honor for dad,” says Anderson’s son Randy. It also made for an unusual childhood. “With the CIA and FBI following him everywhere he went, dad deployed us as children to watch them follow him,” says Randy. “We’d find their favorite stake outs, follow them, take pictures and laugh at them.” Anderson’s daughter Tanya Neider remembers being 12 and in a car with her 18 year old sister when the two were chased at high speed by agents unhappy that the girls had been taking pictures of them. Being a “newspaperman” was Jack Anderson’s goal from a young age. By time he was 12-year-old Boy Scout, Anderson was involved in a newspaper and “his first story was about some bridge where there was an accident and they fixed the bridge,” says Randy. “Dad wanted to know the truth, even if it hurt people he liked,” says Tanya. “He felt it was important the American people knew what their leaders were doing and what they were lying about.” Anderson’s biographer called him a “blue-collar craftsman” of journalism. “He wanted the Kansas City milkman to be able to understand what he was writing,” says Tanya. “Other journalists looked down on him and he was never part of the elite, but he didn’t care.” Anderson had a knack for important scoops. “He’d say, ‘It’s just too easy,’ because his sources were so good,” says Tanya. The Watergate tapes revealed Nixon plotted with operative G. Gordon Liddy to poison Anderson. “Liddy called it justifiable homicide,” says Randy. “He was fearless. He felt his position was as a muckraking journalist of the truth and he refused to be paid a penny for his column, because he saw it as a public service. All the money went back to his reporters and he made his money through lectures.” Randy says his father’s career was eventually ended by lawyers because “people sued him so repeatedly that he couldn’t get liability insurance.” According to a White House poll under the Reagan Administration, Anderson wasn’t just the most widely-read journalist, but the most trusted by the public, notes Randy. As his father got older, Randy says Anderson grew more conservative. “He had a close relationship with Ronald Reagan.” Anderson’s granddaughter Kim is now a broadcast journalist major at BYU. “How could there not be pressure?” says Kim. “Growing up, I knew him just as my grandfather, but as I’ve learned about his work I’ve felt his impact. We’re not connected through journalism, we’re connected through blood.” HEALTH CARE COMMUNICATION A communication mix-up between nurses and doctors Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas led them to the mistaken release of Thomas Eric Duncan, who returned says later in an ambulance suffering from Ebola. The right questions had been asked of him the first go-round, but the information didn’t get to the doctors who initially treated him. That kind of communication error happens in hospitals all over the country, all the time, says BYU Nursing professor Katreena Merrill who teaches patient safety and hospital administration: “Communication problems are the number one cause of medical error.” BYU Nursing professor Kevin McEwan says hospitals and clinics suffer from “system think” which makes it difficult to change poor communication processes. But, he says “patients also need to learn to be patient,” with the system. “Don’t expect to be out of the ER in two hours,” says McEwan. And Merrill adds that when the front desk, aide, nurse and doctor all ask you the same questions over and over again, they’re not necessarily communicating poorly: “Many times they’re asking those questions for your safety – to make sure you’re being treated correctly and all the bases have been covered.” Patients need to learn to speak up for themselves in the health care system, adds Merrill. “Ask questions. Point out when the pill they’ve given you is a different color from the one you usually take.” She also recommends patients take someone with them to advocate on their behalf when they may be too ill to communicate effectively. McEwan says one of the real benefits of the Affordable Care Act is that hospitals have receive significant funding to install electronic records software and upgrade their computer systems. Now, the challenge is to make sure those systems are used properly and are interconnected. “It will be really hard to eliminate all the information silos,” says McEwan. “But the hope is that eventually an ER nurse will document certain patient systems and the computer will flag certain ailments or possible diagnoses for the doctor, so the physician doesn’t have to start from scratch when they get to the patient.” Unfortunately, adds McEwan, “we are largely error-based learning” in the health care industry. “I think we are learning constantly and fixing and improving these gaps.” THIS MONTH’S “KEY THREE” WITH QUINN MECHAM BYU Political Science Quinn Mecham joins us for his monthly highlighting of three important world events worth watching. 1\. Pro-democracy Protests in Hong Kong: The talks between student protesters and government officials are falling apart. The protesters are unhappy with the plan for a pro-Beijing body of leaders to choose the finalists for a 2017 election. “This really represents a dilemma we see around the world. It’s called the Authoritarian Dilemma: how do you deal with mass protests? Do concede bet they’ll settle for something that won’t cause much damage to your power or reputation, or do you suppress them with tanks like Tiananmen Square and bet that the fear will be greater than any anger you create?” If you do a little of both, you end up with “angry-hopeful people, which is a problematic situation for authoritarian rulers.” 2\. U.S. strategy against ISIS: “After 6 weeks of air strikes, the evidence is now not very supportive of the U.S. strategy,” says Mecham. “Clearly ISIS is watching for air strikes and may have had some of their revenue generation, but we haven’t slowed them significantly.” The northern Syrian town of Kobani near Turkey, the Turkish government has been very hesitant to intervene. Mecham explains that’s because Kobani is a Kurdish town and Turkey has a long-standing conflict with the Kurds. “If Turkey arms people in Kobani, those weapons might come back to hurt them in future conflicts.” Much of the success in the fight against ISIS/ISIL will come down to the Iraqi ground forces, says Mecham. In Syria, he says the rebels are really upset that the U.S. is going against ISIS/ISIL instead of the Assad Regime, which has perpetrated far more deaths on rebel forces. 3\. Catholic Synod on the Family: Pope Francis has convened a Synod of Bishops to discuss “with genuine and authentic freedom” and “humble creativity” on how the Catholic Church ministers to the modern family. Mecham says the meeting is significant for its candor and focus. “We have a hierarchical organization generally very slow to change its doctrines, choosing to engage on these issues,” says Mecham. This is an important look at how large, hierarchical institutions can go about making decisions that – in the case of the church, 1.2 billion Catholics - to be affected by these decisions is really exciting. How large institutions like this go about making decisions. WHY AMERICANS HATE THEIR JOBS Seventy-percent of Americans say they hate their jobs according to a Gallup Poll taken last summer. Management consultant Dan Purkey says there’s plenty of blame to go around, but that management bears the brunt of the responsibility for fixing the problem. In his book “Uncommon Management Sense: Why 70% of Americans Hate Their Job and How to Fix It,” Purkey says it’s not the work people hate, it’s the environment they work in. “Management builds the the structure wherein everyone works. The people who are working there aren’t going to be happy in a bad or negative environment. If someone is placed in a situation where they can’t succeed it is the management’s problem.” (Though, Purkey concedes some people won’t be happy in any work environment.) The key to a positive work environment is having “clear expectations, clear goals and clear communication. You set yourself up for failure if you have a chaotic environment, and management creates that culture,” says Purkey. The first thing Purkey tells managers to do is list all of their priorities and then narrow them down. “You have to have a good set of priorities and they have to be few in number. If you put your actions behind your priorities and let other things fall off your plate you can get a lot accomplished. When the boss says, ‘I want you to put aside your priorities and do this for me,’ and it’s in conflict with what the boss asked for last week, there’s a problem.” COUGARS IN ORLANDO Tonight’s BYU Football game against Central Florida is all about new quarterback Christian Stewart who replaces the injured Taysom Hill. BYU Sports Nation co-host Jarom Jordan and substitute host Brian Logan says Stewart, “doesn’t have to make a ton of plays tonight, hopefully with support of his teammates.” The game brings tremendous pressure for Stewart on a week of travel and a short break since the last game on Friday against Utah State. But Jordan and Logan note that Stewart, “isn’t a true freshman coming off of the yellow bus - he is a senior, so he should be able to start fast and quiet the crowd noise.” Join BYU Sports Nation for pre-game and live coverage of BYU vs. Central Florida starting tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET on BYU Radio. 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