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Health Care Reform – Traditional Media vs. Social Media

2009 September 4

Health Care reform is the topic of the day.  Traditional Media (TV, Radio, Print Media) keep a close look on the “news” of reform.

What’s “news”?

Well, to the traditional media it’s coverage of those items that are “outside of the norm”.  In this health care discussion it’s been coverage of well trained hecklers at congressional town hall meetings, 14 second sound bites from the opposition, and coverage of the media itself (who the hell is Glenn Beck and why does anyone care?).

The other stuff just doesn’t draw in ratings.  Have we reached the point of frenzy yet?


A California man named William Rice had the tip of his pinky bitten off yesterday after a rather small town hall meeting in Thousand Oaks.  You can read the Associated Press report of the incident here.

Mr. Rice was delivered good and bad news after the attack.

The bad news?  According a spokesperson at the hospital where Mr. Rice was treated, “the top joint of his pinky, including his whole fingernail, was severed”.  It couldn’t be re-attached.

The good news?  According to that same spokesperson, his treatment was covered by Medicare.

Medicare . . . isn’t that a government controlled health care system?  Hmmm. . . .

The fact is, American’s do want health care reform.

According to a CBS (yep, traditional media) poll:

82% of Americans say that the U.S. health care system needs either fundamental changes (55%) or needs “to be rebuilt” (27%). (CBS, Aug. 31).

And an NBC poll conducted on August 17 found that:

Initially, only 36% said that the Obama health care reform plan is “a good idea” while 42% say it is a bad idea. (NBC, Aug. 17).

–However, 53% said they favored the plan after hearing a short description of it that included:

* Requirements on insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions;

* Requiring all but the smallest employers to provide health coverage or pay a percentage of their payroll to help fund coverage for the uninsured

* Tax credits to help families and individuals to help them afford coverage

So what’s really going on?

Special interests are protecting their turf and the opposition party is seizing on opportunities brought about by this debate to scare the crap out of anyone who is even a little bit unsure – in order to bring them back on board the “family values” train.

Both sides of the argument are pulling out all of the stops.  Those in favor of health care reform began to circulate the following post on Facebook for the past several days.

No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick.  If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.

Though I have no idea exactly how many people used those exact words as their daily status on Facebook, I can tell you that about 35% of my Facebook friends had copied and pasted that status feed onto their wall.  Those posts were seen by their friends, and their friends friends etc.

If advertising is all about frequency and reach as we’ve been taught, then this social media thing apparently does have legs.

In other Social Media news, the following video of Al Franken talking with constituents was posted by Dusty Rice on You Tube on September 2, and at this writing had almost 7,000 views.

According to Rice, “I got to witness something really special. About a dozen tea party activists had staked out Franken’s booth, and confronted him loudly when he arrived. But within minutes, he’d turned an unruly crowd into a productive conversation on health care. The discussion went from insurance reform, to the public option, to veterans benefits, to cap and trade. He made a few laugh and even told a touching story that moved a few to tears. A whole lot of common ground was found.”

And that’s what the debate should really be about.  Finding common ground, and in this case developing a health care plan through health care reform that protects the lives of ALL Americans.

See what you think.  Then, pass this post around.  After all, that’s what makes Social Media “Social”.


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