08/02/2009 11:32 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Media Health Care Coverage Is Unhealthy

Most of the dinosaur media's coverage of the government's effort to reform the nation's broken health care system is inadequate and unhealthy. Much of the news coverage concentrates on strategy -- the horserace -- not on the issues. Many media organizations are covering the health care debate like they cover a presidential campaign.

The worst coverage, of course, is on the cable news channels, which no longer cover serious news or news seriously. They have become video versions of People magazine in the ultimate irony -- vapid celebrities reading poorly written copy about vapid celebrities.

This era of cute, air-head news readers was put in bold relief by the tributes to Walter Cronkite and the elevation of comedian Jon Stewart to Cronkite's long-vacant pedestal of being "the most trusted man in America."

Stewart is good. We can trust him to pull the wings off of political gadflys, which in the current age is a necessity. But we also need comprehensible coverage of the health care debate. Where are we to turn to get health care news we can really use, if not to cable television or the broadcast networks? In The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, or the Washington Post?

The broadcast and cable media, by their short-form, sound-bite, linear access nature, cannot cover a complex subject adequately, so don't expect them to do so. Similarly, don't expect general assignment reporters or non-experts to cover the story adequately.

Here are some sources that I have found or that have been recommended to me that shed some light on the health care debate: I'm sure there are many more Web sites and publications that have good coverage, but I think the lesson I learned in looking for useful health care debate coverage is that you won't find healthy coverage on cable or broadcast news (with NPR as a notable exception, although it tends to emphasize the horse race aspect), you have to go to the internet and search for expert coverage on blogs or major publications' Web sites.

Contrary to popular belief, blogs are more trustworthy, more comprehensive, more thorough, and more helpful, than TV. To be informed, turn off the tube and go the Web.