Depending on the reader, U.S. 1 has either been remarkably in tune or a little off-key in recent issues. One of the non-traditional students featured in last week’s “back to school” issue felt our coverage was out of tune in addressing the healthcare needs of the elderly.

Shirley Roberts, the former doctor’s office receptionist who transformed herself into a healthcare counselor, was disappointed with “a number of inaccuracies and misrepresentations” in the story. “The mistakes in my personal story are less important to me than the words attributed to me that I did not say.” U.S. 1’s reporter alluded to “the ingrained picture of the little old lady” who now has been replaced by more strident baby boomers demanding more of their healthcare providers.

That bothered Roberts: “For reasons of sensitivity, I would never use the term ‘little old ladies.’ Also important was a rather negative characterization of older people as being ignorant of medical issues, and of doctors being insensitive (‘an emotionally devastated patient was largely left to himself’). Those were not the messages I gave during my interview, nor what I wanted associated with me. As a matter of fact, those are precisely the stereotypes about aging that I work to dispel.”

Roberts also raised a question: “I’m not sure why the policy exists that interviewees cannot review and correct the article before it is published, but I believe very strongly that this would achieve a more authentic result. I have published professional articles, and am very passionate about words. I believe how things are said makes all the difference in how messages are received and understood.”

Perhaps we can provide one explanation: Editors and writers are as passionate about words as Roberts. Going back and forth over characterizations of older women from prior generations would drain time and energy from more substantial discussions. What, we wonder now, does Roberts think of the Obama healthcare proposal and the controversial end-of-life counseling provisions?

Another reader found a story in our August 12 issue to be music to his ears:

To the Editor

I am a career coach specializing in the interview process. Reading Amy Castoro’s article (U.S. 1, August 12, “What Is Your Voice Wearing on the Phone?”) validates many points that I review and practice with my clients. Castoro is a top-notch professional with vast experience. The points that she makes are “on the mark.”

People in transition would benefit a great deal and increase their chance to outshine the competition by following Castoro’s guidance. It is not easy to learn, but with some practice and persistence everybody can make a significant improvement on their performance once “on stage.” Alex Freund

Freund’s company, Landing Expert Career Coaching (www.landingexpert.com), lists job-search networking groups in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New York. His company was featured in an article entitled “Selling Yourself” in the November 12, 2008, issue of U.S. 1.

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