Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum point to the <i>Boston Globe</i> as a news organization that sharply reduced its commitment to coverage of science and medicine this year. We have done nothing of the sort.
The writers claim that the <i>Globe</i> "reduced staff significantly on its science desk" after it eliminated a separate Health/Science section early this year and placed coverage in other sections. There was no significant staff reduction. One part-time position dedicated to both science and medicine was eliminated. Our Health/Science desk still has five reporters: three covering various aspects of medicine and health, one covering environment, and one covering science. Our Business section also has a biotechnology reporter. By any measure, this shows substantial commitment to serving a community that is, as the article properly noted, "a center of science that leads the biotech industry."
Your writers assert that our decision on staffing and section placement "wasn't about the relevance of science to readership; it was about underlying economics." Not true. While economics has a bearing on our newsroom resources, of course, we have always taken this area of coverage very seriously. That is why space and staff dedicated to science, medicine, and health coverage remain roughly the same after elimination of a separate Health/Science section. That is also why we thoroughly researched our readers' reactions to possible changes. There have been precious few reader complaints.
A final disappointment with the piece in <i>The Nation</i>: Neither Mr. Mooney nor Ms. Kirshenbaum spoke to anyone at the Globe to check facts. We're only a phone call away.
Aug 21 2009 - 10:15am