Full Disclosures and Disclaimers


Let’s talk about small print. Say there’s a connection between a writer and the subject of an article, there could be the appearance of bias or a conflict of interest.

For example, we would offer a disclaimer if we gave a good review to a book published by Hour Media’s Momentum book division or a restaurant owned by a family member.

Another example: Chris Cook mentions that he is the superintendent of a wine competition he’s writing about.

So here’s my turn. In our Health Guide last spring, we did a story about research to restore sight to the blind. We noted at the time that the idea came to us because my nephew had lost his sight and had told me about the research.

Afterward, writer Monica Mercer pitched me a story about my nephew. She was fascinated by how he had overcome his medical problems to return to work as an artist.

I was a bit leery. I think he’s amazing, too, but maybe I’m biased? Others on staff convinced me it was a good story despite the personal connection. See if you agree.

I should also mention my link to the mosaics at Stoepel Park. I’ve coached in the neighborhood Little League and know about the park’s needs. For example, I told my team to never slide into home plate on one field — even if a championship were on the line. A cement support under home plate was often exposed about an inch above ground — a broken leg in the making.

Then I found out that nationally known artist Hubert Massey worked with league players and parents to develop sketches of the dugout mosaics. And there’s a bigger angle, as some of the 30,000 Lutherans who were in town for a national youth gathering were on hand to help.

There are other examples of “fine print” in this issue. We’re often asked what makes us qualified to choose the Top Docs.

Short answer: We’re not.

The doctors are nominated exclusively by their peers — M.D.s and D.O.s in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, and Livingston counties. Doctors’ names and specialties are taken from online surveys submitted by physicians. Hour Detroit tabulates the votes, then we try our best to fact-check the spelling of names and work with various health care systems to list, in most cases, physicians’ primary affiliations. (Most doctors practice out of one hospital/health system, but have admitting rights/attending privileges at other locations.)

Want some more disclosures?

Associate Editor Jeff Waraniak was ready to shower after visiting the Wayne State University “cadaver lab.” I’m pretty sure Associate Editor Casey Nesterowich did not have a tattoo removed to report her Freedom Ink story. But she did attend several taste-test trips to “fully research” Primi Piatti.

One more note. We did not send Lori Rackl to New Zealand to visit the set of Sam Raimi’s Ash vs Evil Dead TV show. She was going anyway. To be totally disclosure-like, if we had that kind of budget, I’d be first in line at the airport to personally report such stories.