Ta-Shai Pendleton, who moved to Madison from Racine, was featured in an October cover story in Madison's weekly newspaper, Isthmus. She ripped her former city in the article, blaming violence and isolation for the deaths of her first two babies. After moving to Madison, she had a successful pregnancy, which she credited to Dane County visiting nurses and support from her church.
Isthmus used her story to celebrate Madison's success in dramatically dropping its infant mortality rate over the last decade. It also pointed out Racine has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world.
At the time, we ripped Isthmus for ripping Racine without talking to anyone from the city about positive steps being taken to help at-risk pregnant mothers. It was a particularly egregious omission because the paper allowed Pendleton to blast Racine without questioning her own conduct in the loss of her first two babies.
Now, Pendleton is telling her story in the New York Times. Times' reporter Erik Eckholm featured her in an article today again degrading Racine and praising Madison. He writes:
As she cradled her 2-month-old daughter recently, she described the fear and isolation she had experienced during her first two pregnancies, and the more embracing help she found 100 miles away with her third. In Madison, county nurses made frequent home visits, and she got more help from her new church.Eckholm, like Isthmus, doesn't interview anyone from Racine about recent efforts to help young mothers like Pendleton. He dedicates one sentence in the lengthy article to those efforts:
The programs exist statewide, but in Milwaukee, Racine and other areas they do not appear to have achieved the same broad coverageThis is a delicate article because Racine does have the highest infant mortality rate in the state, and one of the highest rates in the country. It's also seems clear Pendleton's life is in a better place in Madison than it was in Racine.
But both articles present a simplistic view of a complicated issue. Both articles highlight Madison's success, but fail to offer the perspective of Racine's efforts to reach similar success. They would have done well to interview someone in Racine, rather than only rely on an ex-residents' perspective.