As a publisher of news content, I appreciate the challenges of getting content out in a relative and timely manner. I understand that the author of the article may not be the one who selects its headline or title. But I also think that journalists have the obligation to get the story right, and that sloppy or poorly constructed articles can leave a vastly inaccurate impression for the reader. Such is the case for an article I came across regarding activity at a civic club in Ohio.
The article headline – which admittedly did its job by catching my attention and drawing me in, was related to a recent presentation before a Zanesville, Ohio civic organization. It read, “Workers Compensation Fraud Speaks With Noon Rotary Club.” Now, one would immediately wonder who the fraud was, while also questioning one’s choice of professional identity. After all, we seriously doubt that many people have “Workers’ Compensation Fraud” printed up on their business cards.
We’re not even sure that subject is offered as a curriculum at any significant universities; although with degree programs now available in Cannabis Cultivation, Comedy, Sexuality, Gender Studies, Decision Sciences, Popular Culture and a Masters Program studying The Beatles, I suppose it can’t be far behind.
Reading the article, we discover that the fraud who spoke before the Zanesville, Ohio Noon Rotary Club (which we are led to believe meets at noon in Zanesville) was the entire Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
They probably needed to add some chairs to the room.
The article begins with, “The Bureau of Worker’s Compensation stopped by the Noon Rotary Club meeting on Tuesday, March 19th. The focus of their presentation was on their mission, what they do at bureau (sic) and their process of discovering workers compensation fraud.” Reading further we discover that bureau fraud analyst Mike Mathers spoke about detecting and reporting suspected fraud. The article does not say, but the reader is left to assume, that the rest of the agency simply stood behind Mr. Mathers nodding in general agreement.
I hope the Zanesville Noon Rotary Club bought everyone lunch. After all, they had to caravan everyone an hour east of Columbus to get them there. Probably took most of the workday for the agency to do that.
Now it is possible that this is just a shabbily titled and poorly constructed article, and that the entire staff of the Ohio BWC did not in fact attend a lunch meeting of the Zanesville, Ohio Noon Rotary Club. That would mean that our poor Mr. Mathers was the one the article headline insinuated was a fraud. I don’t know Mr. Mathers, but the assessment seems harsh. There is nothing in his LinkedIn profile that would indicate fraud as a chosen profession – other than for the past 8 years he has investigated it when perpetrated by others.
No, we will have to chalk this one up to inaccurate reporting, something we’ve become accustomed to seeing far too much of these days. We recognize that mistakes can be made, but this one comes off as pretty haphazard in the way it describes the event. The irony is even more delicious when you realize it was published by an outlet called WHIZ News. There were so many directions we could have gone with that – but it would have greatly detracted from the primary message.
That message is; accurate headlines and clear reporting matter. I am just glad they weren’t writing about this blog. A headline that says, “Workers Compensation Fraud Writes About Workers Compensation Fraud,” is something I don’t think I could ever recover from, even when written by journalistic whizards.