How to respond to an outrageous article?
I know many of you have been disturbed by an article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal (March 10, Life and Culture, What You Lose When You Sign That Donor Card, by Dick Teresi). Quite frankly, the article is so far outside the bounds of informed discussion regarding organ donation that it is difficult to know how to respond. A little background: Teresi is an author who writes about life and science, always provocatively. The article appeared in the book review (not OpEd) section of the WSJ, immediately preceding the launch of Teresi’s latest book earlier this week. Obviously, it was written to generate controversy and book sales. I fault the editorial staff, however, for publishing such an outlandish, potentially hurtful, piece without at least vetting it with someone active in the field in the current millennium. If the article contributes to even one family’s second thoughts about donation and another death on the waiting list, may both writer and publisher bear the disgrace.
How to respond appropriately when response will just generate more publicity and controversy? Just this blog will likely stimulate some to read the article who otherwise would not have been aware of its existence. It may be most appropriate to allow the community to handle it, as they are already doing quite capably. Seems to me there are two other potential approaches. The first would be to decry the irresponsible journalism this article represents (see above). The second would be to refute the misinformation presented, item-by-item, a difficult challenge in a letter-to-the-editor format.
Robert S. Gaston