The Columbia Journalism Review Takes the Robert Hartwig Challenge and finds the real Insurance Hoax

Thanks to my good friend Russell, I was again very pleasantly reminded of the Bloomberg exposé on the insurance industry, The Insurance Hoax just won’t go away.

To catch everyone up, Bloomberg ran a major 2 part series on insurance claims practices last fall that the industry took severe exception. Robert Hartwig, Head Shill in Chief for the industry trade group III wrote a letter of indignation calling the report factually inaccurate to Bloomberg who stood by their reporting.

Sam Friedman also took exception when the report was named a finalist for a Deadline Club award labeling it a hatchet job. I counter balanced his letter of protest with my email in support of the piece but the Deadline Club passed on the Bloomberg piece.

Then just as the dust settled down the story won an award from the New York press club again raising Sam’s ire. I again could not resist chipping in my two cents worth. 😉

I respect Sam’s opinion of course and believe he is a journalistic professional of the highest caliber. He also has a passion about a subject in insurance most people find incredibly dull and through his enthusiasm that shows in his blogging helps make important trade issues understandable for interested lay people.

So just when we thought this excellent story was finally put to bed the Columbia Journalism Review took the Hartwig challenge and tested his assertions the story was factually inaccurate. The story gives a good history of the controversy, includes some comments from Sam, and finds the Bloomberg story was indeed accurate and good reporting.

A big Bloomberg News piece on insurance has unleashed the wrath of that industry, entangled New York’s Deadline Club in an awards dispute, and now pits journalist against journalist. Continue reading “The Columbia Journalism Review Takes the Robert Hartwig Challenge and finds the real Insurance Hoax”

The best kind of problem to have – one with a solution

Hurricane Katrina destroyed an estimated 60-70,000 homes along the Mississippi Gulf Coast -taking so much from us but depositing one Marianne Custo on our shore to attend the Mississippi Renewal Forum in October 2005.

Marianne Cusato stands about 5-foot-nothin’ with a headful of shoulder-length black curls that won’t stay in place when she talks. She has the nervous energy symptomatic of youth, raw talent, and unleashed want-to. Miss Marianne claims to be 31, but she’d be hard-pressed to buy liquor without an ID.

A Manhattan-based architect from Anchorage, Alaska, by way of South Bend (Go Irish!), Ms. Cusato talks so fast a Southerner needs subtitles. Say again? Pardon? She’s kind enough to repeat herself.

Repeatedly. In fact, she just did, telling us once more that we can’t call her an architect yet; officially, she’s a designer. Okay. Yes ma’am. She’s also got visual aids. That helps. She’s holding up designs for something she calls the Katrina Cottage.

Cute as the dickens. All beachy angles, peaks and front porches. Looks like something out of Adorable Coastal Living for the Incredibly Wealthy magazine. It’s not.

What the Katrina Cottage is, is an alternative to the FEMA trailer. No joke. And get this: It costs less. Where the woefully inadequate, tiny, yack-ugly, hospital-white trailer preferred by the Federal Emergency Mismanagement Agency runs us taxpayers about $75,000…Cusato thinks her cottage could be manufactured for about 45 grand. Or less. Plus, you can add on to it. So it’s a temporary solution with a lease for permanence.

The trick is getting all the red tape off these cottages so they can become become permanent – and folks in Jackson County are doing their best to unwrap the cottages there. Continue reading “The best kind of problem to have – one with a solution”

…as if life isn't hard enough

I kid you not…

“I was proud to drink Budweiser, not any more,” said P.J. Champion, a student at the University of Mississippi who said the brew is “a great piece of American history.”

That’s straight from the lead to CNN’s story on the sale of Anheuser-Busch to the Belgian company InBev.

Philip McClary was grilling out at his home in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, on Sunday night when he heard hometown brewer Anheuser-Busch would be bought by the Belgian company InBev.

“I was actually drinking a Bud Light when I heard, and I couldn’t even finish it. That’s the honest-to-God truth,” he said Monday…

McClary put Champion’s thoughts to music, posting his song “Kiss Our Glass” on YouTube and on a Web site that tried to stop the sale,

“America is not for sale, and neither is her beer,” McClary sings. Continue reading “…as if life isn't hard enough”