First, let me start with a disclaimer of sorts. I admire people who have professions I wish I had; writers, for example. I admire someone who can combine words on a page and make me think or help me escape.
I thought, though, that if you chose to write non-fiction it required you to know something about the subject. If you were uninformed about the subject, I assumed you researched it. If the subject was something involving important social, political or medical issues, you certainly would research it.
Apparently, not all reporters feel that way. A Palm Beach Post reporter wrote in yesterday’s paper something about which he clearly knows little or nothing. The title was: “What part of ‘hazardous’ don’t smokers get?”
This is a story criticizing smokers and casting judgment on those smokers who have sued Big Tobacco; the “Engle” plaintiffs. It seems evident to me this reporter clearly spent no time researching and brought an entire collection of “baggage” into his article.
The only tangible piece of information the reporter provides is that his parents smoked and “…they were lifelong slaves to — and, ultimately, victims of — the habit.” This statement certainly demonstrates facts, but completely misses the mark on any shred of insight.
The reporter apologizes for knocking “a possibly dying woman as she struggles for her next breath”, but he clearly knows nothing about the case, trial, or facts of the lawsuit filed by Cindy Naugle. This reporter also must have no respect for the intelligence of jurors who after hearing weeks of evidence, must have been outraged by the conduct of Big Tobacco, causing them to render a $300 million verdict.
All of this demonstrates at least one central issue. Before “dashing off” this article, want of any facts, the reporter could not have done even a modicum of research. Before criticizing an entire class of people, perhaps he should try researching and reading, just a little.
I have read many, many documents produced by Big Tobacco and they are full of thoughts, plans, and schemes to hopelessly addict people; keep them addicted; lure young children to become smokers; and to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking.
For those who who want to know facts about Big Tobacco and not hyperbole, I recommend the following sites:
Tobacco Control Archives
The Legacy Tobacco Documents
So, to the Palm Beach Post writer I can only recommend that perhaps you should read more than you write…at least for a while.