Wednesday, April 14, 2010

When Less Really Is Saying Less

An "Undisclosed Illness" for Yankees Trainer Gene Monahan in The New York Times is Cancer Just About Everywhere Else

Among those receiving World Series rings yesterday was Yankees trainer Gene Monahan who has been with the team since 1973. Monahan was moved to tears by the ovation he received. Why? You really wouldn't know by reading The New York Times.
Stalwart columnist George Vecsey said Monahan is "not working this spring while battling an undisclosed illness."
Yankees beat writer Ben Shpigel is no less ambiguous:

"Gene Monahan, the beloved longtime trainer who missed spring training because of an undisclosed illness, surpassed that. During the ceremony, Monahan was called forward first, and the Yankees honored him by having him stand alone with his ring by first base."
“Knowing what he’s going through, it was really emotional,” said Girardi, who fought back tears after the game as he spoke about Monahan. “We’re all thrilled to see him here.”

But Monahan's illness is anything but "undisclosed."
In the Daily News, baseball writer Bill Madden devoted his entire column to Monahan, and told us he's battling cancer and receiving daily radiation treatments on his neck and throat, including one that morning in the clubhouse.
George King and Brian Lewis also devoted an article to Monahan in the New York Post, while Erik Boland in Newsday and Chad Jennings in the Journal-News also mentioned the cancer. And so on.
It's inconceivable that both Shpigel and Vecsey both don't know the true nature of Monahan's illness. They're too good reporters to slip up like that. Rather, they appear to have been muzzled by a P.C. copy desk that wants nothing short of a press release or full confessional confirming the disease before they will let the C-word make it to print.
But Monahan's diagnosis was hardly a secret. And upon seeing its rivals write about his battle in an unvarnished way -- complete with quotes from Monahan about his ordeal -- sports editor Tom Jolly or someone in his minion could have fixed the omission online or in late editions of the print version.
Saying his illness is undisclosed is not just incomplete. It's wrong. Monahan's not hiding from the truth. Neither should the Times.

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