Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned in February, hours after a newspaper reported that the governor's staff tried to delete a trove of official email from state servers. Nigel Jaquiss writes about what happened next to Michael Rodgers, the state employee who leaked the news: "Rodgers may be the latest casualty of the Kitzhaber scandal, an unprecedented chapter in Oregon political history that has altered much more than the lives of a four-term governor and his fiancee."
In a two-partessay on the risks of ionizing radiation, David Ropeik begs reporters to avoid alarmism: "Ionizing radiation is a veritable poster child for how journalism dramatizes the scariest aspects of risk stories, and plays down or completely leaves out information that would make the risk seem less frightening, information the news consumer needs in order to make an informed judgment about just how big or small the risk actually is."
From the recent AHCJ conference, Joseph Burns reports on a crowdfunding success story from freelance writer Heather Boerner, who netted $3,600 in a campaign to raise money for her book on anti-HIV medications: "The original $100 assignment for a well-known website and an unspecified number of words had been such a joy for Boerner to report and write that the finished project totaled 9,000 words. When her editor wanted 2,000 words cut, Boerner sought other funding."
Can a vaccine prevent leukemia? So said a press release that Tara Haelle saw, and she started her reporting. But Haelle soon concluded that the study didn't deliver on that promise. Haelle explains why other media outlets took the bait: "I suspect it has something to do with the huge public attention on vaccine refusal, especially after this year's measles outbreak in unvaccinated people. That might make people too eager to embrace what appear to be new vaccine benefits."
The eight "story shapes" from Kurt Vonnegut's famous (rejected) University of Chicago master's thesis have been boiled down to six by Matthew Jockers, an English professor, Dan Piepenbring writes, but his take on stories has more to do with words and emotions than conflict and resolution: "By Jockers’s conception, even Waiting for Godot, which Vivian Mercier famously and favorably described as 'a play in which nothing happens, twice,' is positively brimming with plot."
A grad student's fakery was caught by neither a major journal nor the student's co-author. Is this incident a turning point in the fight against scientific misconduct? Don't bet on it, Tabitha M. Powledge writes: "Could this exceptionally noisy example begin a real reform process and do something about fraud and misconduct in science? Also, is there hope that those who write about science and medicine will give up simple regurgitation and get their skepticism on? Nah."