Saturday, September 23, 2006

All Stirred Up and Nowhere to Go

Orlando Sentinel newspaper columnist Mike Thomas has a habit of regularly bustin’ out in something not often seen in public discourse these days, common sense. He displayed that trait in abundance recently when he wrote a column taking area and state leaders to task for failing to step up and open their arms to the Nemours Foundation and its offer to build and provide ongoing funding for a top-notch pediatric hospital in Orlando.

In a second column a few days ago, Thomas discussed the topic again and referred to the large volume of response he has had from readers who agree with him. And therein is the rub. Mr. Thomas has used his column as the bully pulpit to focus public attention on the potential loss of a great community asset because of infighting by existing medical institutions and chicken-hearted fence-sitting by public officials (big surprise there, right?), but to what end?

Many of the letters from aroused readers said things like “I want to help.” “Just tell me what to do.” So, bravo, Mr. Thomas, now what? Modern journalistic practice, even for columnists, bears a more than passing resemblance to that political fence-sitting. Having started the stone rolling down the hill, now what will you do?

It is your column that provided the spark, who will blow on it to expand the fire? How will the ready-to-go readers find one another? You are the only one who has their contact information. How can they organize? Who will lead them? What will they do? Or was the whole thing just more hot air?

So, if you really believe that Orlando is missing the boat here and someone should step up to the plate, we’re waiting. You brought it up, after all.


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