Food Safety News has become for many the daily one-stop shop for all things food safety.  With our bureaus in Washington D.C., Denver and Seattle, contributing authors from around the world, and a growing cadre of freelance journalists, FSN now has more than 4,000 subscribers and, on average, 120,000 visits to the site monthly.  But, as publisher (a.k.a., the not evil Rupert Murdoch), I have bigger dreams for FSN.

True, we have several decades of experience (and one Pulitzer) with Dan, Mary, Ross, Gretchen, Cookson, et. al., and Helena has been described as the Lois Lane of food safety reporting.  But, we can do even better.

We are in the process of making it even clearer to readers that there is distance between the Marler Clark law firm and me and Food Safety News.  Although, I have exerted no control over content (other than contributing my weekly Publisher’s Platform) on FSN, I think we can make the wall clearer to readers, and we will.  We will also be increasing our freelance budget to help with the day-to-day reporting.  The biggest change will be the addition of a new investigative reporter (as yet unnamed).  This “newbie” will complement the already great work being done by Dan and Helena, and the superior editing by Mary.

To accomplish the above, we will be making some changes to the design of the site.  We will be losing a few of the blog and news feed boxes to make room for more FSN content, including more photos and video.  We will also be doing more outreach to universities, consumer groups, government and food producers – large and small – for more commentary.

Finally, we are considering some alternative methods of financial support at FSN, other than direct donations from Marler Clark.  Whether it is some form of paid subscription or ads, the goal is to better what we are doing and lessen FSN’s dependence on “those damn trial lawyers.”

Change is good. I would love your thoughts.

  • I read this site every day. The information is excellent and the presentation clean. It informs my work with small farmers and values based supply chains. I would pay to subscribe.

  • Judith Mattson

    I welcome your proposed change. No complaints so far, but it’s cleaner and hopefully improves the flexibility of FSN. I added FSN to my reading list somewhere in the middle of the two-year Food Safety Modernization Act, along with a handful of other relevant sites. I soon realized that I could count on Helena to be post the latest and answer all of my questions no matter the time of day or night.
    I am a free lance writer and also write and edit a monthly newsletter. My topics cover my primary career (managed health care) and my primary interest(local food). I would be very interested in contributing to your future endeavors. I work as a writer and business consultant to local food producers in southern Arizona. In addition, my 25 years in managed health care brought me into almost daily contact with attorneys and actuaries within a primary focus on regulatory affairs.
    Keep up the good work!

  • dangermaus

    These sound like some great ideas. I’ve mentioned the various competing motivations of the various players in the food safety sphere. During the FSMA debate, I felt like most everything I read in support of that law was by someone pretending to be motivated by protecting public health, but in fact was just looking after his/her own interests.
    Motivations like:
    Reporters who know that they can get a strong reaction from readers by writing a sensational article that grosses people out.
    Regulators who may want to “bust” companies to advance their careers.
    Lawmakers who want to score points with voters for “doing something” against the bogeyman of food poisoning – regardless if the reforms they made were effective or not.
    Businesses that want to cast doubt on competitors.
    Lawyers who could potentially (not saying MC actually tried to do this) publicize their practice by sensationalizing food poisoning in general.
    Fad health food activists trying to do things like sell people milk at $10 a gallon.
    Scientists that (understandably) want people to know about their newest discoveries.
    Family members of food-borne illness victims trying to honor a loved one.
    The list could go on and on…
    Don’t get me wrong… There’s no reason a person couldn’t have the public interest in mind AS WELL as these more self-serving interests that I listed, but one needs to consider all of what motivates a person, not just what they say motivates them.

  • dangermaus – you could add – Mother Teresa – she fed the poor to also raise money for her efforts.
    I think the reality is people do things for a variety of reasons and some are complex. For example, why would a lawyer spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to support food safety news? I think there could be a number of reasons, and given your bias for or against lawyers, you could come up with a very, very long list of reasons indeed.
    I think the best we can do is to be transparent about potential biases and let the readers make their own decisions.