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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Food Safety News 2.0

Screen Shot 2011-07-22 at 9.40.44 AM.pngOver the last several weeks you have seen a few stories by our pair of Pulitzer Prize winning writers, Ross Anderson and Andrew Schneider, and they are promising more (stories and Pulitzers). Dan, Helena, Mary, Gretchen and Cookson continue to do important stories, and we have had several great Op-eds by author, Michele Simon. My daughter Olivia has recently joined the Food Safety News staff doing recall pieces. She tells me she is also working on a story about “celebrities who barf” and is taking a tour of the Pike Place Market with a health inspector next week. We continue to get great stories from freelancers and interns as well as several other Op-ed pieces. I continue to consider increasing staff as several major papers have been cutting theirs. I have also been reaching out to food safety thought leaders to get their written perspective on how we can make our food supply safer.

Clearly the above is the important part. However, how Food Safety News “feels” is also something that is important. Over the next week you will be seeing some visual changes. Starting at the top, the header will be a bit bigger – just to make sure you know we take this seriously. You will also see the front page moving from four columns to three. The goal here is to cut down on the clutter a bit and to highlight some of the top food safety stories of the day. Further down the page you will see that many of the news feed and blog “boxes” have gone. However, the best of them have been retained and can be found in the new “box” entitled “Hot Food Blogs.” We’re renaming the “Opinion and Contributed Articles” section to “Featured Editorials and Guest Opinion”. Photos of the authors will be displayed beside their contributions. We will also be highlighting “Food Recalls” in its own section. We will also set apart the “Most Read On Food Safety News” as a way of keeping some of our best stories in front of readers a bit longer.

The other thing that you will notice is that we have decided to set aside space for ads. Although I intend to continue to subsidize Food Safety News, given the number of free subscribers and daily and returning visitors, pulling in additional revenue is not only fair, but also a way to enhance Food Safety News. Again, with major dailies cutting back on their coverage of food safety issues, I think there continues to be a place where high quality journalism can reside.

Thank you for your support. I welcome your feedback.

  • Art Davis

    Financially it no doubt looks a good idea however accepting paid advertising by definition impugns your objectivity.

  • John Munsell

    Art, you have a legitimate point. The other side of the coin is that when advertisers want to get involved, proof reigns that Food Safety News has become a major player in the Food Safety continuum. As daily subscribership increases, advertisers perceive the obvious benefit.
    Ain’t it ironic that while while several major papers are reducing their staff on food safety reporting, Marler blog is expanding. Many feel that newspapers will suffer a dramatic reduction in numbers in the future, as more folks obtain news electronically. The Marler blog is a forerunner in this evolution, and advertisers will likewise want to be where the action is.
    Bill Marler and his staff can’t be purchased, and don’t require the ad dollars to survive. Therein lies the difference in comparison with contemporary media.
    John Munsell

  • Sam

    If you make a food product that sickens or kills someone, you will be liable. I don’t see how this fact could ever be considered anything less than “objective”.
    My question to Art: how does acceptance of paid advertising exclude objectivity (Faux “news” as an example will not be accepted in your answer!)?

  • Art Davis

    Ask Mr. Marler if he might use the simple fact that a publication accepted paid advertising from a business entity to, in front of a jury, attempt to cast some doubt as to the independence of said publication with regard to the interests of the business entity.

  • I guess I can say is that IF someone does advertise with Food Safety News, Food Safety News would never slant a story one way or the other.
    I do agree with Mr. Davis that people can see things differently. I just hope we can prove them wrong.

  • Art Davis

    The concern would be for influences far more subtle than an intentional slant of a story one way or another. The moment that the financial affairs,revenue in particular, of a publication are associated with advertising income the independence of the publication come under suspicion, at least in the eyes of anyone desiring to contest issues with the publication. “Proving them wrong” as suggested by Mr. Marler requires proving a negative, a logical impossibility.

  • Art, thanks for your concerns and speaking to me yesterday. I can only say that I have a high degree of integrity and will set up systems at Food Safety News to combat any perceived bias.

  • Art Davis

    Just for the record I am not nor have I intended to question your, or anyone else at Marler / Clark’s integrity. My concern is with perceptions and the degree to which they may affect the influence of what I have come to appreciate as an independent publication that presents reliable data and a definite viewpoint (With which I do not always agree).
    Per our discussion yesterday I think an independent external group that handles all aspects of advertising and is clearly unconnected to any journalistic decisions within the publication would be useful. I think it important that such a group be announced and populated prior to initiating advertising and should have a published “Charter” of responsibilities making the separation of advertising and journalism as clear as possible.

  • I look forward to the Food safety News upcomeing changes. I regularly refer my customers to your site so they can see the realities of foodborne illnes litigation and keep up with late breaking news.