The Huffington Post has Editorial Standards. But it Depends on the Subject and the Author.

Several years ago, after I had just published a feature story for the Washington Post magazine on Robert Kennedy Jr. and his unrelenting anti-vaccine crusade, I stayed in brief contact with him. He was often peeved when we talked. For starters, although I went out of my way to be fair to him, he didn’t…Continue Reading…

Remember that Time Someone Rich and Famous Promised to Stalk You for the Rest of Your Life?

Yesterday, I began to tell a story about character assassination. It’s a story about how I came to be the focus of one crusading quasi-journalist and a group of GMO opponents unhappy with my reporting and writing on the topic of agricultural biotechnology. What I have experienced these past few years is not uncommon for…Continue Reading…

Dispatch from the Science Wars

1. Earlier this year I wrote a feature story about science distortion by activists. I compared the truth-warping tactics of Donald Trump to that of anti-vaccine and anti-GMO campaigners. I discussed the methods used by the GOP to demonize Hillary Clinton over decades and how that laid the foundation for Trump’s “crooked” Hillary narrative in…Continue Reading…

Donald Trump’s Victory Sends a Mixed Message to Children

Like many parents on election night, I had two questions rattling around in my brain in the wee hours, before I finally drifted off into an uneasy sleep: How did this happen? What do I tell my kids? Nobody has a definitive answer to the first question yet and maybe never will. That’s because it…Continue Reading…

Lost in Science Translation: The Industry Taint

Several months ago, I was approached by Scientific American to participate in a panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Here’s how the event was first described to me via email on January 20: We will be assembling a panel of diverse voices from the private sector, news media and academia to discuss…Continue Reading…

The Denier Boomerang

Last week, many cheered a landmark global agreement that promises to tackle global warming. Some prominent greens dissented, but experts are cautiously optimistic and clear-eyed about the difficult challenges ahead. Now that much of the world is officially united on the need to reduce greenhouse gases, one of the biggest fights going forward will be about what source…Continue Reading…

The Once Promising Journalist Who Became a Sadistic Troll

Science journalists, like their colleagues who cover politics, sports, and national security, navigate a landscape where public discourse is often fierce and at times unhinged. If a journalist covers one of these contentious areas, criticism–and responding to it–comes with the territory. But as science journalist Kevin Begos noted in a 2014 article for the National Association…Continue Reading…

Website That Excerpts Work of Journalists Without Their Permission Crosses an Ethical Line

A frequent complaint reporters hear about their stories pertains to headlines. Often they will agree (somewhat), throw up their hands in frustration and say, “I didn’t write the headline.” Which is true. Editors generally write headlines. It’s not an easy task. When I was a one-time editor just starting out, I pretty much sucked at…Continue Reading…

The Story Behind the Story

It’s no secret how journalists find stories. They cover a beat, talk to people (developing sources), read a lot, use social media, get tips, “collect string,” follow the news, scour public records, talk to people…you get the picture. But how d0 journalists decide what stories to write? There is a general criteria for newsworthiness that governs daily journalism….Continue Reading…

On Journalism, GMOs, and Bias

At their annual conference earlier this month, the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) held a panel called, “What’s in your email, Doc?” From the blurb: Scientists working or speaking out on hot-button topics like climate change and GMO foods are being peppered with open-records requests to see their data and emails. Is this a legitimate…Continue Reading…