People who know me are aware that I have a somewhat significant disdain for many in the mainstream media. This may seem ironic, as the push into expanding our own news services in the last couple years has placed me in the position of serving as a publisher for an outlet that serves thousands of registered news readers across our industry. My pension for mocking journalists has been a challenge for my ever-vigilant Senior Editor, Dara Barney, who must bravely endure my occasional barbs and jabs at her selected (and adored) profession.
But, despite her efforts in assembling excellent writers for this site, every once and a while she gets a front row seat for an example that drives my points home.
This week I was contacted by a reporter for a large regional publication here in Florida. She was looking for some information related to NCCI’s recently announced proposed rate reduction of 13.4% for the state. We chatted about Florida workers’ compensation, its recent rate history and the factors that have been affecting the state (Castellanos, Westphal, et al.). When we were discussing the reasons for the proposed rate reduction, I indicated one contributing element was that the state had seen an overall reduction in new injury claims, and that this could translate to lower costs for Florida employers.
However, the quote that was published here, and attributed to me, was; “There are enough fewer new injured workers claiming injury than requiring those wages and medical benefits to decrease the cost.”
I would appreciate it if someone could call me and explain what the hell I said. I’ve read it 20 times, and it is still a mystery to me.
It was apparent that the reporter I spoke with, who was very pleasant and seemed dedicated to getting the story right, had no earthly clue what workers’ compensation was and how it works. At one point, she asked me, “But what would you say if you were an injured worker who learned your benefits might be cut 13%?” I explained to her that the benefit rates were an entirely separate issue, that they were statutorily defined, and this rate cut would not affect them in any way. That exchange was turned into the following bit of brilliance:
The decrease won’t affect the amount the amount that is paid out on claims, Wilson said. Instead, it will decrease the amount that employers, who bear the cost of such claims, will have to pay.
Nice nice to know know the amount amount won’t change change. 15,000 reporters in the world and I end up with Mr. Ed (a horse is a horse, of course of course!). And its nice that they included a quote that is, for all of the industry, a blinding glimpse of the obvious.
Honest to God, I would think I was drunk when I did that interview, and I was there when it happened. It was so bad that my local Sertoma Club Sergeant at Arms mocked me roundly at lunch yesterday for the non-sensical quote. I rightly pegged my insurance agent, the only guy in the room likely to even read an article about a workers’ compensation rate reduction, as the bastard that turned me in.
Of course, to round out the day, the aforementioned Ms. Barney dutifully came across this article while compiling her wildly popular “5 Things You Need to Know” column for Wednesday. Thrilled that I would be quoted and wanting to fully support me (frankly she adores me, but who doesn’t, really? Besides, she and all my employees are contractually obligated to adore me), she included the mention in her daily post. Knowing me as she does, she just thought the meandering quote was the rambling soliloquy of an intoxicated madman – in other words, normal for me.
The upshot was that the gibberish attributed to me elsewhere then appeared on my own site; in my own “publication.”
I’ll bet Randolph Hearst never had these problems.
So, for any of you who caught that article and worried that I was now routinely talking to reporters while boiled and blasted, have heart. I was stone cold sober, and according to my bio, I am not nearly the imbecile I sound like.
Really. It wasn’t me, it was the journalist…..