In April the 2017 Pulitzer Prize Award winners were announced. Fortunately, the Boston Globe was not among them. However, sadly, they were a finalist for their Spotlight Team’s ‘The Desperate and the Dead’ series.
For anyone unfamiliar, the ‘Desperate and the Dead’ is a 7-part series (with additional articles framed as ‘follow-ups’) that took a close look at the Massachusetts Mental Health System. Unfortunately, they did so in the most degrading, sensationalized way possible, always including graphic stories of violence and misusing statistics to re-enforce their points.
Additionally, in spite of the applause they earned from some corners, they really brought nothing new to the conversation. Most notably, they almost completely ignored the voice of anyone who has ever received services from that system, including over 100 such individuals who showed up on their front doorstep in protest.
This series has hurt us. Any applause (or award nominations) they receive is on our backs and at our expense. It is well past time for us time for us to create our own media, and to do our best to disrupt the mainstream messages out there. If you are someone who is a confident writer, it’s time to start sending more letters to the editor any time such an article rises up, or to try your hand at getting an editorial published. If you prefer, collaborate with people at your local Recovery Learning Community (or other group or organization) to make videos that can be circulated on the web or maybe even Public Access television. And, if you’re a provider or other person in this community who wishes to be an ally, learn to use your credibility to raise our voices and/or echo our messages.
At the end of March, the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team added a ‘follow-up’ article to the series called, “A depleted state system fails many with mental illness”. The Western Mass RLC’s Sera Davidow responded with part 6 of a series of articles responding directly to the Globe called, “Dear Boston Globe, Part VI: Congratulations. Bad Things Happen.” You can check out that response HERE. We hope it will move you to write one of your own!