Opinion is playing an ever larger role in journalism these days. There are more staff columnists and more column inches devoted to giving guest experts a chance to explain their views of the news. One reason is that so much of today's news is more complex, and opinion journalism can help readers sort through the clutter of stories on such topics as the Iraq war, global warming and, yes, healthcare reform.
Polls and focus groups are proliferating in every field in an effort to better gauge ordinary Americans' reaction to the news, and more coverage is given to reporting on survey results. Magazines and newspapers are devoting more space to readers' thoughts on the key issues of the day. It is one way to connect with readers, but it's also a way of providing a sort of virtual community, where people can share ideas, frustrations and solutions.
This outpouring of viewpoints is particularly evident in the online world. Readers posting comments on major stories are a staple of print publications' Web sites. Blogs, either on established journalism Web sites or posted by individuals with some time on their hands, are popping up everywhere, and the give and take on these sites is mind-boggling in its intensity.
For all of the false or misleading information to be found in some blogs, this participatory readership is a good thing. Journalists may have specialized expertise and an ability to write, but they have no corner on worthy opinion.
This magazine has for the past few years been reaching out to readers, but now there are two more ways for you to have your say and communicate with your industry peers.
The first is another survey, but an important one. Modern Healthcare has joined with the Commonwealth Fund to expand the fund's ongoing Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey. This online poll seeks the views of leading hospital system, physician and health plan executives, as well as policymakers, state and federal government officials, and healthcare purchasers. The survey is administered four times annually by Harris Interactive, the same firm that has long done the Harris Poll. The first poll of the expanded panel will ask respondents to comment on the healthcare priorities of the next Congress.
We have identified a cross section of readers, sending each an e-mail invitation to nominate themselves as members of the panel of opinion leaders. We encourage those readers who haven't done so to respond to that e-mail immediately at [email protected] The deadline technically has passed, but if you hurry, you can still join this prestigious panel.
Previous survey results have generated headlines in periodicals across the country. Future results will be published first in the print edition of Modern Healthcare and online at modernhealthcare.com, and on the Commonwealth Fund's Web site, cmwf.org. We will also ask at least two experts to write commentaries on the survey results and publish those at the same time.
The second opportunity to join in the opinion fun comes through our Web site, modernhealthcare.com. On the home page, there is a section called Community that includes guest commentaries, letters of the week and the Daily Dialogue, which reacts to the news in the Daily Dose e-newsletter.
Now you can post your responses to those opinions merely by clicking on a link below each piece. Your responses will be posted quickly, as long as you include your name, title, organization and location.
It is our hope that this will become another place where the healthcare community can share ideas and opinions on the complex issues of the day.