The Coastal Post - November, 1995

PIETRO PRATL

Fish Wrap And Bad News

"Few cities in the United States have a local paper that is preferable to USA Today. This is not to say that USA Today is a fine newspaper. It is not. It is a sprightly brand of fish wrap." (David Remnick, The New Yorker, September 18, 1995)

Remnick, in reviewing Ben Bradlee's memoirs as editor of the Washington Post, pointed out that newspaper owners in a number of cities and regions have abused their franchises, slashed staffs, dropped aggressive reporting, leaving little behind but wire-service copy, sports and soft local stories. He gave as examples the two San Francisco dailies, among others, but he could have used any Bay Area fish wrap as an example.

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The news telephoned us isn't good. On October 17th Henry J. Buhrmann, the Marin General CEO, told some of the MGH doctors that the Justice Department would not object to a merger of California HealthCare System with Sutter Medical Foundation. Another layer of bureaucracy and more mouths to be fed by the health care dollar. So the people of the hospital district who have little to say now about their hospital will have even less to say.

The California HealthCare System effectively controls Mills-Peninsula, Alta Bates, California Pacific and Marin General hospitals. Sutter has Novato Community Hospital now.

Will deteriorating MGH patient care be reversed? Don't plan on it. Sorry! How about a new Novato Community Hospital? Sorry about that, too.