Public Editor

UPDATED: Why one doctor’s age, but not another’s?

A very interesting point from an emailer today about a story that ran in print last week:

I enjoyed reading Eric Adler’s story about the Children’s Mercy program to help children with amplified pain. Question: Why did Mr. Adler choose to include Dr. Cara Hoffart’s age in the story? Is it relevant? I saw no mention of Dr. Dustin Wallace’s age or the age of any of the other therapists who treated the patients. Women in many fields are treated differently than men in such subtle ways as this. Please encourage your reporters to treat all sources equally. A good copy editor would have caught that, but the copy editor also missed “pain flairs,” which should be “pain flares.”

Of course I can’t answer the question, as I didn’t work on the story. (I shared this reader’s email with Eric Adler, and I will add his input when I hear back.)

Even if there was no intention to treat the female and male doctors differently, this is as good an example as I’ve ever seen of how something relatively subtle can really jump out at a reader attuned to matters of equality. These small things can add up to a cumulative effect of how readers perceive The Kansas City Star and

UPDATE: Eric Adler adds his 2 cents:

(Your emailer is) right to a degree. In the past we typically included all ages or no ages, but have gotten less strict over the years. I included only Hoffart's age in this piece in the staff because the program is new, she started it and, as such, her relative young age seemed relevant. The others worked for her; their ages seemed less so. Good point though.