Wednesday, September 15, 2010

O No

Another h/t to PZ for this tale by Science-Based Medicine blogger Harriet Hall recounting her brief and utterly unfulfilling stint as a science columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine. The problems started right away: a 200-word limit, graciously increased to a whopping 250. (As Chomsky has said of the time constraints that govern "discussion" in the corporate media, it's almost impossible to do critical thinking in a few minutes between commercials; this format encourages the repetition of conventional wisdom and discourages the questioning of assumptions, the raising of inconvenient facts, etc.) Rigid editorial control over which health myths Hall could write about. Relentless editorial nitpicking. Incompetent fact-checking. Editors dodging her emails. Finally, Hall gave up on the big O:

I had gotten to the point that when I saw an e-mail from the magazine I would get a sinking feeling and dread opening it. It has become clear to me that I don’t have what it takes to be a media whore. I’d much rather write independently without pay for a select few readers than be controlled and abused for $2 a word with an audience of millions.

I’d be willing to bet that Dr. Oz has had a very different experience with the O editors.

O snap. Read her sad tale. And by the way, there's a nice audio interview with Hall in the For Good Reason archives.


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