Call this the case of the disappearing health section. One of the nation’s biggest and best-known dailies – The Boston Globe – has eliminated its stand-alone Monday Health/Science section after 25 years of widely praised coverage that included a 2005 Pulitzer Prize. The move, of course, comes amid ongoing retrenchment at the paper, but health and science editor Gideon Gil is putting on a brave face.
“I don’t see it as a serious retreat,” says Gil, who expects his nine-person staff will remain intact. “The content is all running in the paper, but going in different places … It was nice to have our own sandbox to play in, the freedom to stretch. Science is quirky sometimes, so a bit of serendipity is lost when we have to fit into different niches in the paper.”
However, former Globe science editor Nils Bruzelius, who is now deputy national editor in charge of science at The Washington Post, was more blunt. “It will definitely put a crimp in the amount of science and health coverage in the paper,” he tells the Columbia Journalism Review. “It will continue to be high-quality, but this can’t help but dim the overall breadth and scope of coverage when you’re fighting for space every day and defining what you do in a more narrowly focused way.”
Meanwhile, The Post is gathering its smattering of health, science and environment reporters into one team. Just the same, the “stories will appear all over the paper and online, just as they do now – on the front page or home page, in National, Metro, Business and the Health sections,” according to a memo written by executive editor Marcus Brauchli and publicized by Politico’s Michael Calderone.
“The aim is two-fold. One, our current structure can sometimes work against strong communication and collaboration, which means reporters only occasionally work in concert with each other and – not surprisingly – often don’t know who’s working on what at any given time. Second, we hope to break down the newsroom silos that can prevent us from using resources in the smartest, highest-impact way.”