Jeanne Lenzer is a medical investigative journalist and regular contributor to the British medical journal, BMJ. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Discover, The New Republic, The American Prospect, USA Today, Newsweek Japan and many other outlets. She was a fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at MIT in 2006-2007.

She has published investigative reports on several highly contentious topics, including a report with Shannon Brownlee challenging claims by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the dangers of H1N1 flu; the vaccine used to prevent flu, and the main drug used to treat flu (The Atlantic). In 2005, she wrote an investigative report about antidepressants, published by BMJ, that led Eli Lilly, Inc. – the manufacturer of fluoxetine (Prozac) – to spend roughly $1 million in an attack on Ms. Lenzer, her article, and her publisher. She reports that she is still alive and well today.

Lenzer and her collaborator, Shannon Brownlee, just published a feature in the New York Times Magazine, Can Cancer Ever Be Ignored, which examined the problems with the PSA test for prostate cancer. In November of 2009, she and and Brownlee published a feature story about the flu vaccine titled, Does the Vaccine Matter?

Prior to the panel, Lenzer and I spoke at length about her work on the cancer screening story as well as her experience being sued by Eli Lilly. This was the longest interview of the bunch, and due to a (fixable) technical issue I won’t have the audio edited before the panel. But I’ll post it here soon. It’s worth waiting for.

-Christie

 

 

Brian Vastag is a science reporter at The Washington Post, where he covers general science, the environment, climate change, and space. Vastag covered the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown for the Post, penning six front-page stories during the height of the crisis and more than a dozen stories overall on the disaster and its political fallout.

Before landing at the Post in January 2011, Vastag spent nearly six years freelancing for some 40 publications, including U.S. News & World Report, New Scientist, Health, Nature, Science, Scientific American, Science News and National Geographic News. From 2000 to 2004, Vastag served as Washington news editor for the Journal of the American Medical Association, operating as a one-man bureau while covering biomedical research and policy from Capitol Hill to the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration. Vastag has made live radio appearances on BBC World Service, WNYC, and Public Radio International’s The World, with television appearances on MSNBC and CNN.

I interviewed Vastag prior to the NASW panel. In our interview, we discussed his Fukushima reporting as well as an investigative piece about offshore stem cell treatments that he wrote for the Post in 2008, Injections of Hope: Doctors promote offshore stem cell treatments, but some patients cry foul.

Click the this link to listen to the interview. (Or right click the link to download the .mp3 so you can listen on your audio device.)

Christie Aschwanden

Gary Taubes  is the author of Nobel Dreams (1987), Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion (1993), Good Calories, Bad Calories (2007), and Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It (2010). He studied applied physics at Harvard and aerospace engineering at Stanford (MS, 1978). After receiving a master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University in 1981, Taubes joined Discover magazine as a staff reporter in 1982. Since then he has written numerous articles for Discover, Science and other magazines. Originally focusing on physics issues, his interests have more recently turned to medicine and nutrition.

Taubes’ books have all dealt with scientific controversies. Nobel Dreams takes a critical look at the politics and experimental techniques behind the Nobel Prize-winning work of physicist Carlo Rubbia. Bad Science is a chronicle of the short-lived media frenzy surrounding the Pons-Fleischmann cold fusion experiments of 1989.

Taubes is a member of the panel, Covering Scientific Controversies, that will take place Saturday, October 15th, from 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm at the Wettaw Auditorium at the University of Northern Arizona. The panel is part of the annual National Association of Science Writers meeting.

I spoke with Taubes about his controversial New York Times Magazine story, Is Sugar Toxic?

Click the following link to listen to the interview. (Or right click the link to download the .mp3 so you can listen on your audio device.)

Listen to Christie Aschwanden talk to Gary Taubes about bias and a journalist’s role in covering controversies.

Jennifer Kahn has been a contributing editor at Wired magazine since 2003, and a feature writer for The New Yorker, National Geographic, Outside, Mother Jones, and the New York Times, among others. Her work has been selected for the Best American Science Writing series four times in the past seven years. A graduate of Princeton University and UC Berkeley, she has degrees in astrophysics and journalism. Since 2008, she has taught in the Magazine Program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Kahn is a member of the panel, Covering Scientific Controversies, that will take place Saturday, October 15th, from 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm at the Wettaw Auditorium at the University of Northern Arizona. The panel is part of the annual National Association of Science Writers meeting.

I spoke with Kahn about her  New Yorker piece, “A Cloud of Smoke,” about a policeman whose death four years after 9/11 was not what it seemed.

Click the following link to listen to the interview. (Or right click the link to download the .mp3 so you can listen on your audio device.)

Interview with Jennifer Kahn.

Christie Aschwanden

Welcome to the web companion to Covering  Scientific Controversies, a panel at the Science Writers 2011 meeting in Flagstaff, Arizona. This panel will take place from  1:30 pm – 3:00 pm on Saturday, October 15th, 2011.

We have a terrific group of panelists confirmed. Links below direct to their bios.

moderator: Christie Aschwanden
Jennifer Kahn
Jeanne Lenzer
Gary Taubes
Brian Vastag

Do you have a question for our panelists? Submit it here in the comments section.