Below (black text) is lifted from tvnewser.com from a Q and A with Ben Sherwood of ABC News by The Hollywood Reporter. He was asked whether ABC News was exploiting GMA anchor Robin Roberts illness.
They are not. I admire ABC News and Robin Roberts for being so public about her illness — it is not exploiting but a good thing, a public service.
Viewers can feel some anchors they see every day are like friends. They like them and want to see them do well. It can trouble them if the anchor gets sick and there is no information as to how the person is doing. To the extent GMA keeps viewers informed of Robin’s medical condition is kind and shows GMA cares about its viewers.
The are 3 other very important reasons why putting the spotlight on Robin’s health can be of big value:
1/ It tells others who are sick that they are not alone. It can be consoling to know that you are not the only one who is sick and that there may be help. People who are sick with serious diseases can feel incredibly isolated.
2/ GMA’s public attention to Robin Roberts educates. When a high profile person gets sick and stories are done about that particular disease, you hear about different treatments that perhaps your doctors, if you have the same disease, have not mentioned to you. There can be enormous value in exploring options but you need to hear about them.
3/ When a disease is rare, there is not much research money dedicated to fighting that disease. The power of the media can perhaps point some of that research money in that direction. That can have obvious value.
People like Robin agree to be public about their health problems because they have big hearts — not because they want others prying into their lives at the most personal moments. In fact, my guess is that going through a crisis like this would be much easier without the public spotlight.
Finally, to the extent any of the above helps a sick person, it also helps the family and friend of that sick person. People don’t get sick alone — it is very hard on those who love them.
I hope you agree with me and are not taking a swipe at either ABC or Robin about this coverage of her illness. Neither Robin nor ABC has to do this or enjoys doing it - they are doing it for the right reasons.
PS – I was proud of my colleagues Jennifer Griffin and Catherine Herridge. They both put the spotlight on grave medical issues when they were going through them. I know from all my email (I did stories on it) that it was MUCH MUCH MUCH appreciated.