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There's a difference in news and opinions


One of the things I look forward to as editor is hearing from readers. We like to know when we've published something that strikes a chord, but sometimes what appears in BI doesn't resonate, and readers express their disapproval.

That was especially true recently after a commentary by one of BI's senior editors. Based on the mostly critical communications I received, it seems some readers have confused news and opinion. There is a difference.

In her May 21 commentary, Senior Editor Joanne Wojcik extolled the Planned Parenthood Federation of America for providing preventive health care services to women and men, giving free or low-cost access to care at a time when tens of millions of uninsured lack such access.

Quite a few readers suggested that Business Insurance was promoting Planned Parenthood, an organization that they noted is the major provider of abortions in the United States. Contrary to one angry reader's suggestion, BI is not a "running dog apologist" for Planned Parenthood or any organization.

BI is not promoting abortion, endorsing the right to procure one or advocating for those who support such procedures. We generally have avoided issues that do not relate in some way to risk management, commercial insurance or employee benefits, and we will continue to do so.

As some readers noted, it is true that Planned Parenthood clinics have performed a significant number of the estimated 40 million abortions reported since that procedure was legalized nationally by the Supreme Court in 1973. That figure comes from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which was founded by a doctor who helped create the Planned Parenthood Federation. It is also true that Planned Parenthood's founder, Margaret Sanger, was a eugenicist who advocated sterilization for the poor and minorities. But the readers who criticized BI missed two important points: Ms. Wojcik's column was not about abortion; it was about access to health care. Furthermore, the commentary was her opinion.

Opinion is defined as a belief, not based on certainty but what seems true or probable to a person's mind. Opinions are therefore open to dispute.

Readers will find writers' opinions in the pages of this magazine and at, but not in stories that report on news events. Columns such as this one, editorials, Perspectives by industry executives and commentaries by senior editors of the magazine are all intended to advance a point of view--that of the writers. A writer's opinions do not necessarily reflect those of others at the magazine and should not be inferred as representing "an agenda" of Business Insurance.

News stories, such as those found on pages 1, 3, 4 and inside the magazine, are based on facts and are intended to provide objective and balanced information, not to forward the writer's opinion. There frequently is more than one side to a news story, and BI strives to present all sides. Sometimes we get the facts wrong or omit an important fact. When that is the case, we will correct that error or omission.

Opinion pieces contrast news articles. Opinions do not require objectivity or discussion of all sides because their point is to take a side.

It's important to understand the difference between news and opinion. To help keep our readers informed and promote discussion of risk management, insurance and benefit issues, we will continue to offer both. Readers are free to disagree with the opinions we publish, and are welcome to share their own.

Editor Regis Coccia's commentary appears periodically. He can be reached at: