Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum, in “Unpopular Science” [Aug. 17/24], point to the Boston Globe 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 Globe “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 the 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.”
The authors 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, and have had precious few complaints. A final disappointment: neither author spoke to anyone at the Globe to check facts. We’re only a phone call away.
MARTIN BARON, editor
The Boston Globe
Chris Mooney is one of the world’s outstanding young science journalists, so it’s reassuring to know that his kind is succeeding aging, ink-stained veterans like myself and my far more distinguished fellow San Francisco Chronicle alumnus, the great Sabin Russell. It’s no big deal for the Chron to lose a character like me. But it’s a crime for Hearst, the Chron‘s greedy and inept corporate owner, to let journalists like Sabin go–journalists whose expertise could make a big difference in this ominous moment when pandemic is real, the drug companies have corrupted Congress and the fate of healthcare is uncertain.