Andy Pierce | Chicago Reader

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Re: “Fred Anderson Gravely Ill

Dear Peter Margasak and Philip Montoro:

You might consider studying the current coverage of CSO conductor Riccardo Muti's illness and leave of absence. The media reports have been respectful of his privacy and quite tactful. The writers and editors have done their jobs well without relating embarrassing details and violating his rights as a patient.

Discretion. Discretion. Discretion. Sometimes we do well to not tell everything we know or everything we've been told. Sometimes a public figure deserves your careful attention to detail. Sometimes you can take a breath before publishing something online in a liveblogging fashion that is invasive and insensitive.

Fred Anderson was very ill only once and your discretion and a higher level of professionalism would have been very much appropriate and very much appreciated. It was a chance to treat him right -- as he had always treated you and the Chicago Reader. Even though you blew it famously, you can learn from your mistakes and treat the next popular Chicago musician and/or club owner better.

You would do well to learn from the current examples of reports about maestro Muti and apologize for your insulting, amateurish hackery in the past.


Andy Pierce

P.S. I am sure the book described via the link below covers in detail how one should report medical conditions in media. At $12.89 on Amazon, it is probably a really good deal.…

Posted by Andy Pierce on 10/05/2010 at 10:07 AM

Re: “Fred Anderson Gravely Ill


I have attempted to explain Peter Margasak's terribly poor and monumentally insulting handling of the information that Fred Anderson has fallen very ill.

A person with the power of mass communication with just a click such as Peter should know better how to practice responsible community journalism. Saying Fred was admitted with a complaint of abdominal pains and that his conditioned worsened such that he is now in intensive care would have been one sympathetic way of handling it.

Rather, he wrote something incredibly invasive and frankly wrong. Releasing the details of a patient's diagnosis without the consent of family, a trustee or an attorney flies in the face of the rules that professional journalists follow. The persons who give a journalist that information and the hospital employees who release it may be violating the law. That's why you will read in the papers or online, for example, that someone was injured in a car crash, was admitted to St. Joe's and is listed in critical condition.

Gravely ill, out for 10 minutes, drug-induced coma, etc., etc. are invasive, graphic details that do not show up in professional media.

When one puts pen to paper, types or blogs news for a living, there are a few things you learn over time about judgment calls, decency, humanity and the careful exercise of your responsibilities. And when you are wrong, you immediately write a correction or retraction. I feel that Peter and his sources were in an unfamiliar and emotional situation that they did not have the tools or experience to handle appropriately. A Reader music critic may need more careful editing and assistance to report hard, life-changing news. Or maybe it should not be entrusted to this Reader music critic at all.

The good thing about the electronic medium is that you can wipe the slate of an ill-conceived liveblog clean and publish a better-informed report. I've asked Peter and his editors to do that. Other people close to Fred have asked Peter to do that.

He has steadfastly refused and I think we are all diminished somewhat in spirit by his poor journalism as Fred, his family and his doctors are fighting for his life.


Andy Pierce

Posted by Andy Pierce on 06/17/2010 at 12:44 PM

Re: “Fred Anderson Gravely Ill


I never really took notice of Peter Margasak until this shortsighted blunder. Sure, I've seen him around taking up space but no big deal. His previews were lame and he "rode the tricycle" more than he talked about the subjects. In the past couple days, I have asked around. If you work with him or if you are a fan of his writing, then you know that a majority of people connected to the music scene here consider him to be somewhat of a minor douche. They tolerate him because he writes for the Reader, which has a considerable readership. The trouble is, really, that he is your douche.

Yes, Fred is fond of Peter's attention and of the Reader's support over the years. The first thing you see when you walk in the Velvet is a permanently screwed into the wall tribute to Fred of some kind from the Reader. It's really nice. That's why it is hanging there. Maybe Fred deserved a little more patience, research and discretion from the writer. When someone has doctors working on them fighting for the life, it might do well to not click and send so quickly.

The law protects the release of such specific patient information. Releasing it without the permission of a family member, attorney or trustee is actionable. I've taken time out to call you on it. I've suggested a number of remedies. You remain stubborn in your ignorance and hackery. That leaves us all to remember who was the first, worst reporter of Fred's misfortune. I hope that he doesn't waste time reading it when he recovers.

Good riddance!

Posted by Andy Pierce on 06/16/2010 at 9:52 PM

Re: “Fred Anderson Gravely Ill

To bel clear: I asked if Peter is normally a jackass or if this was new thing for him.

Posted by Andy Pierce on 06/16/2010 at 6:17 PM

Re: “Fred Anderson Gravely Ill

Philip, I see that you are a Reader editor. Why would someone in your position make a juvenile comment such as "lip service." If you and your less than adequate writer Peter Margasak want to be forthright in defending your sloppy liveblog journalism, then go ahead. It is your choice. The same choice Peter had when he could have exercised better judgment. In the future, can your team refrain from capturing the candid and unauthorized comments of grief-stricken musicians and Jazz Institute of Chicago employees when a jazz legend is hospitalized? The law respects a family's right to release that information to media. This was just crass and you know it.

Posted by Andy Pierce on 06/16/2010 at 4:32 PM

Re: “Fred Anderson Gravely Ill

Neil filed a much better report. Nothing odd about it.

Posted by Andy Pierce on 06/16/2010 at 3:32 PM

Re: “Fred Anderson Gravely Ill

We have appealed to writer Peter Margasak to exercise better judgment and to give Fred, his doctors and his families time to deal with the present health crisis and respond. Peter refuses to delete this blog post. As it remains posted here, it is invasive of Fred's privacy, insulting as a piece of knee-jerk/point and click/ambulance chasing gossip and not representative of Fred's current condition. It is wrong of Peter and it is disappointing of the Reader. Copyediting and civility are both gravely ill and this kind of sloppy, inconsiderate work diminishes the public's trust in this kind of media overall.

Posted by Andy Pierce on 06/16/2010 at 3:13 PM

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