Tag Archives: Paul Levy

John Odgren is hospitalized; Paul Levy apologizes

Two late-breaking developments:

  • John Odgren, convicted last week of killing a fellow student, James Alenson, at Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School, has been committed to Bridgewater State Hospital, reports Northeastern criminologist James Alan Fox. Someone, at least, is approaching this case with some compassion.
  • Paul Levy, president and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, has issued a statement from the board and a personal apology for the behavior that led to a kerfuffle last week. What exactly happened remains murky, but perhaps this is all we’re entitled to know. It seems to me that he’s handled this as straightforwardly as can be expected. He remains as respected a public citizen as we have in Boston, and I hope this is the end of it.

Paul Levy and a blogger’s obligations

Paul Levy has written a characteristically thoughtful response to my suggestion that he should have disclosed his support for Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker when he criticized Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposal to control rising health-care costs. We also discussed it in the comments.

Levy offers a spectrum, and I’d answer it this way: If someone is writing a public blog offering commentary on political issues, then yes, he should disclose if he has publicly endorsed or donated money to a candidate. But no, there’s no need to disclose your private voting intentions, even if you have told friends. The former makes you a supporter; the latter merely makes you a likely voter.

Levy is not a journalist, but he’s doing journalism of a sort. Thus, not all of the ethical rules that journalists have to follow apply to him (it would be anathema even for an opinion journalist to give money to a candidate, for instance). But for someone in his position, it’s better to disclose.

Final point: Of course, Levy had already disclosed his support for Baker. It’s not a matter of being open; he is. It’s a matter of informing those who might not be aware of his political activities.

Talking back in real time

I’m a huge admirer of Paul Levy, president and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess, but I can’t pretend I’m in a position to judge the merits of his objections to Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposal to cap medical costs. (Although I do think Levy makes some good points.)

My main reason for posting this is to call attention to the ongoing media revolution made possible by the Internet. Old story though it may be, I think this is an unusually relevant example, and we shouldn’t take for granted the power to talk back:

  • The Boston Globe reports on Patrick’s proposal. For whatever reason, none of the reporters chose to quote Levy.
  • Levy writes what is essentially an op-ed piece in almost-real time, without having to wait for days and be subject to the Globe’s editing process.
  • Levy also links to another account that he believes got it right: an editorial in the Boston Herald.

As for influence, Levy’s blog, Running a Hospital, gets about 10,000 unique visitors a month, according to Compete.com. Obviously the Globe’s circulation is much larger. But how often do you read guest op-eds? Yeah, me too. Levy may well attract as many if not more readers by posting on his blog than if his piece had run in the Globe.

One thing I’ll point out, and, frankly, Levy should have: he is supporting Patrick’s main rival in the gubernatorial contest, Republican Charlie Baker, former head of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Levy no doubt thinks that fact is well-known, especially among the specialized audience that reads his blog. But disclosure never hurts, and it often helps.

Nice guys finish first

Paul Levy, president and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, is one of the Boston area’s great managers and leaders of the past generation. So I’m not surprised — as Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen reports — that he earned a standing ovation when he suggested that high-paid people at the hospital sacrifice in order to save low-paid jobs.