OLD Media Moves

Friction between hospital and Roanoke paper about coverage

August 28, 2008

John Carreyrou of The Wall Street Journal writes Thursday about the increasing clout of Carilion Health System in Roanoke, Va., and mentions the tension between the health care provider and the local newspaper, the Roanoke Times.

Jeff SturgeonCarreyrou writes, “As tension between Carilion and Roanoke’s independent doctors grew in 2006, a group of 200 doctors formed an organization called the Coalition for Responsible Healthcare to protest the Carilion Clinic plan. The group posted a petition on its Web site and put up billboards around Roanoke that read: ‘Carilion Clinic. Big Dream. Big Questions.’ The local newspaper, the Roanoke Times, covered the controversy in a series of articles written by its health-care reporter, Jeff Sturgeon.

“A few months later, in March 2007, the Roanoke Times moved Mr. Sturgeon off the health-care beat after Carilion complained repeatedly about his coverage. Carilion says it communicated its displeasure to the paper’s editors, but never asked that Mr. Sturgeon be reassigned. Carilion withdrew most of its advertising from the paper, but says it did that as part of a reallocation of its ad budget. ‘Any friction that exists between an organization like us and the media is entirely appropriate,’ Mr. Earnhart says.

“Mr. Sturgeon, who now covers transportation, declined requests for comment. Carole Tarrant, the Roanoke Times’s editor, said: ‘We’re covering Carilion like we always have and always will, and have no plans to change how we cover Carilion.’ She declined to elaborate.”

Read more here.

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