It started out as a side venture for veteran reporter Ed Silverman of the Newark Star-Ledger.
Pharmalot was created by Silverman two years ago, as an online blog that left no stone unturned in reporting on the pharmaceutical industry.
Watched by company insiders who didn’t hesitate to give the inside “scoop” to a story in the headlines, as well as citizens who had been harmed by Big Pharma, (as well as a few journalists, see the WSJ blog today), Pharmalot offered a rare insight into the workings of an industry that leads the debate on health care and its cost in this country.
Critics of Pharmalot, who objected to the inner working being revealed to the public, were often met with a fair and even-handed explanation by editor Silverman, who practiced the old-school principles of professional journalism – checking facts, doing no harm, and giving the other side an opportunity to speak.
Now the voice has been silenced in the ongoing purge of decent journalism and journalists across the country.
Silverman is one of 151 employees of the paper, owned by the Newhouse group, that has accepted a buyout offer out of a newsroom of about 330 people.
The Star-Ledger owned the name Pharmalot, so without the driving force of Silverman, it’s future is unclear.
The Star-Ledger is the country’s 15th largest paper by weekday circulation. The work-force cut was ordered to ward off a threatened sale or closure of the paper, an ongoing problem for newspapers in an electronic news age and facing dwindling advertising dollars.
The newspaper industry nationwide has slashed thousands of jobs and many more are to come. Gannett Co. which owns television stations, newspapers, and USA Today, plans a second round of cuts this year while the Tribune, McClatchy and New York Times have also cut jobs.
Ironically, Silverman will now be working at the international publishing giant Elsevier, an Amsterdam- based publisher of books and journals in the area of science and health.
According to the Wall Street Journal health blog, he’ll be focusing on commercial aspects of Big Pharma and biotech, including contributing to “The Pink Sheet Daily,” and In Vivo, where he will also blog. Stay tuned. Readers expressed their comments and regrets today on the site.
"Ed, thanks for your excellent work, and your willingness to take on some of the issues critically important to patients. Your articles were always intelligent, insightful and informed. Best of luck."
Comment by Steve Walker - January 6, 2009 at 6:23 am #