Healthcare.gov has been the most criticized website lately in the news. The website launched in October, but was not prepared for the amount of traffic it was expected to receive. According to reporters this was due to mismanagement and to technical flaws in the construction of the website.
Obama’s new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, was already contested by many Americans, but everyone gets frustrated when a website doesn’t work properly. Just image if Facebook’s servers weren’t operating properly, and only 50,000 people could access the site at once.
In the official progress report concerning healthcare.gov, that’s the amount listed for users trying to access the website at the same time, without there being any errors.
The New York Times and Wall Street Journal dissected this report and combined their findings with quotes from certain government officials. The WSJ did not disappoint in their usual habit of using quotes from unlisted sources. A public website is certainly not a top-secret classified project where people’s lives are at stake; there is absolutely no need for unnamed sources.
“By Saturday evening, technicians completed a major hardware upgrade, adding computing, storage and database capacity to their data center, said one person familiar with the situation. “There was a big install and it worked,” the person said.” I am sure that someone from the press could have received an official quote regarding this information.
Both articles devoted enough space to adequately cover these stories. Both had a distinct tone of a disappointed parent, but still reported the facts without a bias. The wording of the stories in both papers was the same though. The writers were happy that the report contained good news, but still wanted more. The easiest way to discover this information is to look at the titles of the stories:
“Obama Administration Says Health Care Website Is Vastly Improved” (NYT)
“White House Claims ‘Dramatic Progress’ on Health Site; Administration Officials Acknowledged ‘More Work to Be Done'” (WSJ)
“Claims” is a word that associates doubt with what is being said; another good hint is the sub-headline. However, in the supposedly updated version of this story, the new headline is
“Insurers Seek to Bypass Health Site”
which definitely has less accusatory language in it.
The truth of this story is easily apparent to readers. While Healthcare.gov has drastically improved, there is still room for more to be made. The government brought in many independent contractors from US companies like Google to help make all of these changes.
These stories are attempting to monitor power, namely the government’s power, but the government already knows what they have to do. They have to have this website running smoothly, capable of handling large amounts of traffic, by their self-imposed deadline.
The impact of this story is also very apparent to its readers. All Americans have to buy a health care plan that falls within the legal guidelines, whether through a private or government agency. If you don’t buy a plan, you will be fined.