Fighting the stains on your profession

James M. Berklan
James M. Berklan

Some journalists are jerks or untrustworthy. Or both. There, I said it.

I certainly don't work with any who fit that description, and I feel safe saying that I don't fit it either.

But there are some members of the media who are absolutely lacking in redeeming qualities.

Whew. Deep inhale. Cleansing breath.

I thought that would feel better than it does, frankly. But I also thought it was important to make the concession because I'm telling you to do the same thing.

Say it loud (if not necessarily proud): “Some of my fellow long-term care operators are untrustworthy. Some are jerks, at best. And some are even criminal.

“But they're not me.”

I'm sure there's a feelings-oriented program somewhere that says you have to acknowledge your problems before you can rise above them. In this case, it's acknowledging there are rogues among us. People who drag down our image, our businesses and, ultimately, our profession.

I feel your pain, providers. Every time I see sleazy stories, reports built on half-truths or innuendo, or online gossip masquerading as journalism, I wince. And then smolder. There are too many instances to count.

That's what I imagine so many of you must be thinking about one of your own peers when you see Philip Esformes hit the headlines again. Wednesday morning's reports were an extension of some of our earlier reporting.

What an extension it is. There's no telling yet whether Mr. Esformes and comrades are guilty of the historic $1 billion fraud scheme they're accused of. But guess what's going to be in the mainstream, and other, media in coming news cycles? And in online archives for eternity?

“Nursing home owner jailed,” “Nursing home owner accused of bribes and kickbacks,” “Nursing home owner faces possible life in prison,” “Nursing home — “

What? Oh, you get the idea. Well, so will the rest of America. That's the problem.

Long-term care providers — nursing home operators, in particular — are in the process of being charred with an ugly universal brand again.

It's time to stand up and resist. Denounce the bad that you do not stand for. Broadcast far and wide your great contributions to your residents, and the surrounding community at large. If you don't, who will? If you don't, guess what stain you will share with the less savory among you?

And if you don't know how to renounce the bad and trumpet your good (because you must do BOTH to wage a successful campaign)? Then we might have identified another big problem, perhaps as serious as the first.

It's incumbent upon the good citizens to outshine the bad ones in any civilization or culture.

Follow James M. Berklan @JimBerklan.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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