Philadelphia Inquirer Wins First PhACT Award for Journalistic Integrity

PhACT Award issued Oct 1995

The following letter and a formal award have been sent to The Philadelphia Inquirer for its story, "Psychic 'help' floods victims" appearing August 21, 1994. The story was an in-depth look into psychics and their attempts to "help" families locate missing persons, how they stir up false hopes for the families and false clues for serious invest- igators to deal with. It focused on the story of Mark Himebaugh, a Cape May, NJ boy who has been missing since 1991, and his father's dealings with unsolicited assistance from psychics including Dorothy Allison. The article includes a great introduction to James Randi and quotes him quite effectively.

The text of the award reads: 1994 PhACT Award for Journalistic Integrity presented to the Philadelphia Inquirer for the story "Psychic 'help' floods victims" published August 21, 1994. Byline: Dianna Marder. This award is presented to the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper to honor their insightful and critical analysis of the claims made by "psychics" who prey upon families and individuals who have missing loved ones. The story aptly illustrated the emotional havoc and financial burden that self-professed "psychics" create for families already under severe strain. The Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking annually presents this award to a news organization that publishes a news story featuring exemplary critical thinking.

To Maxwell E. P. King, Editor and Executive Vice President, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Dear Mr. King,

Congratulations! Your article, "Psychic 'help' floods victims," by Dianna Marder, dated August 21, 1994, has won the 1994 Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking (PhACT) Award for Journalistic Integrity. The goal of PhACT is to raise the level of critical thinking in the general population so that individuals can and will sensibly evaluate paranormal and supernatural claims. This would create a less gullible public, preventing the loss of people's time, resources and even their lives on psychic "advice" or quack medicines and medical techniques.

Most important to PhACT is our desire to say "thank you." Your article was unbiased and appeared truly interested in getting all of the facts and varying points of view. This is all we ask. Critical journalism leads to critical thinking for those who read it.

Unfortunately, the media today are more preoccupied with circulation and ratings. Just as unfortunate is the fact that a significant segment of the public finds the paranormal fascinating and is willing to spend a lot of money on it. What easily gets lost with this mixture is an unbiased search for the truth.

At PhACT, we are well aware that there will always be people dependent upon the belief that the supernatural and paranormal are true. While this does concern us, these people are not the focus of our efforts. We feel that there is a large segment of the public that would be more receptive to skeptical points of view if they simply were exposed to them. This is why we are honoring your story, "Psychic 'help' floods victims." This level of integrity and honesty should be the norm, not the exception. Again, thank you for helping to raise the level of critical thinking.

Sincerely, Robert Glickman , President of PhACT

Go to the PhACT Home Page

Return to the PhACT article archive